A House is Not a Home, Class 9 English Chapter 8 Explanation, Summary, Question Answer
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A House is not a Home Summary | NCERT Class 9 English Chapter 8 Explanation, Video, Question and Answer
A house is not a Home- Class 9 English Moments lesson summary, detailed explanation notes of the lesson along with meanings of the difficult words. Also, the Summary is followed by detailed explanation of the lesson. All the exercises and Questions and Answers given at the back of the lesson have also been covered.
CBSE Class 9 Moments Lesson 8 - A house is not a Home
By Zan Gaudioso
Introduction to the Lesson
The story highlights the thin difference between a house and a home. While a house is a building where people live, a home is a place where a family lives together sharing the unique bond of love and oneness. The narrator’s house gets destroyed by fire and he gets a new house. Then he realizes that his home is the one built by the love and affection of his family and loved ones. Love and affection of one’s family is precious.
Lesson and Explanation
MY first year of high school felt awkward. After leaving junior high at the head of my class with all the seniority the upper grade levels could afford me, it felt strange starting over as a freshman. The school was twice as big as my old school, and to make matters worse, my closest friends were sent to a different high school. I felt very isolated.
Freshman: a student in the first year of high school, college or university
As the narrator entered high school, in the first year he felt strange. In the junior school, he had been the head of the class and had enjoyed the privileges given to a senior. It was uncomfortable to be a fresher at the high school. The school was twice as big as the old one and to make matters worse, his friends had got into other schools. So, he was lonely too.
I missed my old teachers so much that I would go back and visit them. They would encourage me to get involved in school activities so that I could meet new people. They told me that in time I would adjust and probably end up loving my new school more than I had my old one.
Video Explanation of Lesson 8 A House is not a Home
They made me promise that when that happened I would still come by and visit them from time to time. I understood the psychology in what they were saying, but I took some comfort in it nonetheless.
He would go back to his old school to meet the teachers because he missed his old school. The teachers would encourage him to meet new people in the new school and to get involved in new activities. They said that after some time he would adjust to the new surroundings and would love the new school more than the previous one. The teachers at the old school made him promise that he would visit them even when he got settled in the new school. The narrator tried to feel comfortable with these words of his teachers.
One Sunday afternoon, not long after I had started high school, I was sitting at home at our dining-room table doing homework. It was a cold and windy fall day, and we had a fire going in our fireplace. As usual, my red tabby cat was lying on top of all my papers, purring loudly and occasionally swatting at my pen for entertainment’s sake.
Purring: sound made by cat
Swatting: to hit something
One Sunday afternoon an accident occured. Zan was sitting at the dining table, doing his homework. The day was cold and windy and a fire was up at the fireplace. The narrator’s pet cat was lying on top of the sheets of paper. It was making a purring sound and was hitting on his pen just for amusement.
She was never far from me. I had rescued her when she was a kitten, and somehow she knew that I was the one responsible for giving her ‘the good life’.
As Zan had saved the cat, it remained close to him as he protected her.
My mother kept stoking the fire to keep the house nice and warm. Suddenly, I smelled something strange, and then I noticed it... smoke pouring in through the seams of the ceiling. The smoke began to fill the room so quickly that we could barely see. Groping our way to the front door, we all ran out into the front yard. By the time we made our way outside, the whole roof was engulfed in flames and it was spreading quickly. I ran to the neighbours to call the fire department, while I watched my mother run back into the house.
Stoking the fire: feeding and tending the fire
Groping: to search blindly
Engulfed: flooded, surrounded by
Zan’s mother tended the fire to keep the house warm. There was smoke filling the room from the ceiling. Within a few seconds, it filled the room and they could hardly see. They made their way to the front door and escaped into the garden. The roof had caught fire which spread quickly. Zan ran to the neighbours to call the fire department while his mother ran inside the house.
My mother then ran out of the house carrying a small metal box full of important documents. She dropped the case on the lawn and, in a crazed state, ran back into the house. I knew what she was after. My father had died when I was young, and I was certain that she was not going to let his pictures and letters go up in flames. They were the only things that she had to remember him by. Still I screamed at her, “Mom! No!”
Zan’s mother came out of the house, holding a small box full of papers. She threw it on the lawn and ran back. She was trying to save important things. As Zan’s father had died when Zan was small, she had to save his pictures and letters which were the only memories of his that they had. Zan screamed at her not to go inside the burning house.
I was about to run after her when I felt a large hand hold me back. It was a fireman. I hadn’t even noticed that the street had already filled with fire trucks. I was trying to free myself from his grasp, yelling, “You don’t understand, my mother’s in there!”
Zan tried to run after her but was stopped by a firefighter. The street was full of fire fighter trucks. Zan tried to free himself and tried to explain that his mother had gone inside the house and he wanted to bring her back.
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He held onto me while other firefighters ran into the house. He knew that I wasn’t acting very logically and that if he were to let go, I’d run. He was right.
The firefighter did not let him go because he knew that the very next moment, Zan would run into the house.
“It’s all right, they’ll get her,” he said.
He said that the other firefighters would bring her back.
He wrapped a blanket around me and sat me down in our car. Soon after that, a fireman emerged from our house with my mom in tow. He quickly took her over to the truck and put an oxygen mask on her. I ran over and hugged her. All those times I ever argued with her and hated her vanished at the thought of losing her.
In tow: behind
The firefighter wrapped a blanket around Zan and made him sit in their car. A fireman came out of the house with Zan’s mother behind him. He took her to the fire truck and put an oxygen mask on her mouth. Zan ran to her and hugged her. The thought of losing his mother aroused affection in Zan’s heart and all thoughts of dislike vanished from his mind.
“She’s going to be okay,” said the fireman. “She just inhaled a little smoke.” And then he ran back to fight the fire while my mother and I sat there dazed. I remember watching my house burn down and thinking that there was nothing I could do about it.
The fireman calmed Zan and said that she’d be fine. She had inhaled smoke. Then the fireman ran into the house to bring down the fire while the mother - son duo sat there wondering on what had happened. Zan still remembers how he saw his house burn and felt helpless about it.
Five hours later, the fire was finally out. Our house was almost completely burned down. But then it struck me ... I hadn’t seen my cat. Where was my cat? Much to my horror, I realised that she was nowhere to be found. Then all at once it hit me— the new school, the fire, my cat— I broke down in tears and cried and cried. I was suffering loss, big time.
It took them five hours to control the fire. The house was totally burned down. Then Zan realized that his pet cat was missing. He could not find it. He got sad and depressing thoughts like difficulty adjusting to the new school, the burning of the house and losing his pet cat; made him cry. He thought that he was suffering many loses.
The firemen wouldn’t let us go back into the house that night. It was still too dangerous. Dead or alive, I couldn’t imagine leaving without knowing about my cat. Regardless, I had to go. We piled into the car with just the clothes on our backs and a few of the firemen’s blankets, and made our way to my grandparents’ house to spend the night.
They were not allowed to go into the building as it could be dangerous. Zan wanted to know about his cat but he had to leave. They got into the car with none of their belongings. All they had were the few blankets given by the firemen. They spent the night at Zan’s grandparent’s house.
The next day, Monday, I went to school. When the fire broke out, I was still wearing the dress I had worn to church that morning but I had no shoes! I had kicked them off when I was doing my homework. They became yet another casualty of the fire. So I had to borrow some tennis shoes from my aunt. Why couldn’t I just stay home from school? My mother wouldn’t hear of it, but I was totally embarrassed by everything. The clothes I was wearing looked weird, I had no books or homework, and my backpack was gone. I had my life in that backpack! The more I tried to fit in, the worse it got. Was I destined to be an outcast and a geek all my life? That’s what it felt like. I didn’t want to grow up, change or have to handle life if it was going to be this way. I just wanted to curl up and die.
Destined: future developed as per a predestined plan
Outcast: a person rejected by society
Geek: an unfashionable or socially inept person
Zan went to school the next day. It was a Monday. At the time of the fire, he was wearing the dress that he wore to the church on Sundays. He was not wearing his shoes. He had removed them and kicked them off when he sat to do his homework. They were burnt in the fire too. So, Zan borrowed tennis shoes from his aunt. He did not want to go to school. But his mother forced him to go. He was embarrassed because his clothes were unusual, he did not have his bag, books and homework. He thought that God wanted that he should live like a person who was different from others and did not fit well in the society. Zan was so upset that he wished to die.
I walked around school like a zombie. Everything felt surreal, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. All the security I had known, from my old school, my friends, my house and my cat had all been ripped away.
Zombie: a dull and apathetic person
Surreal: unreal, strange, bizarre
Ripped away: torn apart
Zan walked around the school like a dull, lifeless person. He felt insecure as all his belongings, his old school, old friends, pet cat and his house had been snached from him.
When I walked through what used to be my house after school that day, I was shocked to see how much damage there was— whatever hadn’t burned was destroyed by the water and chemicals they had used to put out the fire. The only material things not destroyed were the photo albums, documents and some other personal items that my mother had managed to heroically rescue. But my cat was gone and my heart ached for her.
On his way back, he walked through his burned house and was shocked to see the extent of damage that had been caused by the fire and the water that had extinguished it. The only things that were safe were the ones that his mother had rescued - the papers, photos and some personal items. Zan had lost his cat too.
There was no time to grieve. My mother rushed me out of the house. We would have to find a place to live, and I would have to go buy some clothes for school.
Zan could not grieve the loss of his cat because they had to rebuild their life. They had to arrange a place to live in, clothes, etc.
We had to borrow money from my grandparents because there were no credit cards, cash or even any identification to be able to withdraw money from the bank. Everything had gone up in smoke.
They had to borrow money from his grandparents as they did not have their credit cards, cash or any identity proofs to withdraw money from the bank.
That week the rubble that used to be our house was being cleared off the lot. Even though we had rented an apartment nearby, I would go over to watch them clear away debris, hoping that my cat was somewhere to be found. She was gone. I kept thinking about her as that vulnerable little kitten. In the early morning when I would disturb her and get out of bed, she would tag along after me, climb up my robe and crawl into my pocket to fall asleep. I was missing her terribly.
Vulnerable: weak, easy to influence
After some days, the workers were removing the remains of the burned house. They were living in a rented apartment nearby but Zan would visit his old house and see the workers. He wished to find his cat there. He had lost her but kept thinking of the poor soul. How it would wake up when Zan disturbed it and then followed him, climbed up his gown and would fall asleep while sitting in his pocket. He missed her.
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It always seems that bad news spreads quickly, and in my case it was no different. Everyone in high school, including the teachers, was aware of my plight. I was embarrassed as if somehow I were responsible. What a way to start off at a new school! This was not the kind of attention I was looking for.
Plight: sad story
Zan thought that bad news spread faster because everyone, including all the teachers knew about his sad story. Zan felt embarrassed as if he was guilty for all that had happened. He was getting attention for all the wrong reasons.
The next day at school, people were acting even more strange than usual. I was getting ready for gym class at my locker. People were milling around me, asking me to hurry up. I thought it strange, but in the light of the past few weeks, nothing would surprise me. It almost seemed that they were trying to shove me into the gym — then I saw why. There was a big table set up with all kinds of stuff on it, just for me. They had taken up a collection and bought me school supplies, notebooks, all kinds of different clothes— jeans, tops, sweatsuits. It was like Christmas. I was overcome by emotion. People who had never spoken to me before were coming up to me to introduce themselves. I got all kinds of invitations to their houses. Their genuine outpouring of concern really touched me. In that instant, I finally breathed a sigh of relief and thought for the first time that things were going to be okay. I made friends that day.
Milling around: moving around aimlessly
Shove: push hard
The next day at school was unusual. Zan was changing for the gym class when students gathered around him and asked him to hurry. Zan was accustomed to strange happenings and so, did not react much. The students pushed him into the gym and he realized the reason when he reached. There was a table full of articles like notebooks, clothes, stationery items. It felt like Christmas time. Zan got emotional. He made new friends. They invited him to their houses. He was moved by their concern for him. He felt relieved because it was for the first time that he felt something good was happening to him. He made new friends that day.
A month later, I was at my house watching them rebuild it. But this time it was different— I wasn’t alone. I was with two of my new friends from school. It took a fire for me to stop focusing on my feelings of insecurity and open up to all the wonderful people around me. Now I was sitting there watching my house being rebuilt when I realised my life was doing the same thing.
After a month, Zan visited his house as it was being rebuilt. He had two friends with him. The incident transformed him. He came out of the negativity and made new friends. He realized that just like his house was being rebuilt, similarly, his life was also being rebuilt.
While we sat there on the curb, planning my new bedroom, I heard someone walk up to me from behind and say, “Does this belong to you?” When I turned around to see who it was, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A woman was standing there holding my cat! I leapt up and grabbed her out of the woman’s arms. I held her close to me and cried into that beautiful orange fur. She purred happily. My friends were hugging me, hugging the cat and jumping around.
Curb: edge of the pavement
They sat on the pavement and were planning Zan’s new bedroom. Someone walked up to Zan from behind and asked if the cat that she was holding belonged to him. Zan grabbed his pet cat, held her close and cried. On union with her master, the cat made a happy sound. Zan’s friends shared his happiness and jumped around.
Apparently, my cat had been so freaked by the fire that she ran over a mile away. Her collar had our phone number on it, but our phones had been destroyed and disconnected. This wonderful woman took her in and worked hard to find out whose cat it was. Somehow, she knew this cat was loved and sorely missed.
Freaked: behaved irrationally
Due to the fire, Zan’s pet cat behaved strangely and ran almost a mile away. Although their phone number was written on her collar, but as their phone had been destroyed in the fire, the lady could not contact them. She made efforts to trace their address through the number and thus, reached them. She could make out that the cat was being missed by her master because the cat was also sad and missed him.
As I sat there with my friends and my cat curled up in my lap, all the overwhelming feelings of loss and tragedy seemed to diminish. I felt gratitude for my life, my new friends, the kindness of a stranger and the loud purr of my beloved cat. My cat was back and so was I.
Diminish: fade off
When Zan sat with his cat and his friends, the sadness disappeared. He was happy and thankful for getting a new life which got him new friends, a kind woman who returned his cat and his pet cat. He got a new life.
A House is Not a Home Summary
The story revolves around Zan. He was sad as he got into a new high school. He did not have his old friends and was a junior there. He missed the old school and would visit it often. He had enjoyed being a senior there. To add to his miseries, one Sunday afternoon, his house caught fire. Other than a few papers and photos of his father that were retrieved by his mother, they lost everything. Zan did not even have a pair of shoes. His pet cat was also missing.
Zan got depressed and did not want to attend school. He realized that he could not soak up in his sadness as they had to rebuild their life. They needed a new house, clothes, books, etc. They did not have any cash, credit cards or identity proofs and had to borrow money from his grandparents.
One day at school, Zan was astonished to see a table full of things - books, stationary items, clothes, etc which had been collected by his classmates. They were helping Zan. Zan was overwhelmed and made friends. He came out of the depression and realized that life was beautiful. Zan saw his house being rebuilt and felt that same was happening with his life too.
A kind woman returned his cat which had run away on being scared of the fire. Zan became full of life when he realized that life was not about material possessions but about love, affection and being with one’s loved ones.
A House is Not a Home Question and Answers
1. What does the author notice one Sunday afternoon? What is his mother’s reaction? What does she do?
A. While he was doing his homework, Zan saw smoke coming in through the ceiling. The room was full of smoke in a few seconds. They rushed out of the house and saw that the roof was on fire. Zan’s mother ran inside and rescued some documents. She went again to get his father’s photographs and letters which were his only memories with them.
2. Why does he break down in tears after the fire?
A. Zan felt that everything was going the wrong way. He was in a new school, did not have his friends. Now, the fire snached all his possessions, namely, his house, clothes, books and even his pet cat.
3. Why is the author deeply embarrassed the next day in school? Which words show his fear and insecurity?
A. The author was embarrassed because he did not have his shoes, his clothes were unusual. He did not have his school bag and books. The words showing his fear and insecurity are - I was totally embarrassed by everything. The clothes I was wearing looked weird, I had no books or homework, and my backpack was gone. I had my life in that backpack! The more I tried to fit in, the worse it got. Was I destined to be an outcast and a geek all my life? That’s what it felt like. I didn’t want to grow up, change or have to handle life if it was going to be this way. I just wanted to curl up and die.
4. The cat and the author are very fond of each other. How has this been shown in the story? Where was the cat after the fire? Who brings it back and how?
A. The cat and its master, Zan were attached to each other. Every morning Zan would disturb the cat and wake it. The cat would follow him, climb up his robe, sit in his pocket and sleep there. The cat would remain with Zan all the time. While he studied, it would hit its tail on his pen for entertainment.
5. What actions of the schoolmates change the author’s understanding of life and people, and comfort him emotionally? How does his loneliness vanish and how does he start participating in life?
A. Zan’s classmates were sympathetic and understood his situation. They arranged all necessities for him like clothes, books, stationary items. They invited him over to their place. All this comforted Zan. He came out of the negativity and made new friends. He realized that he was getting a new life.
6. What is the meaning of “My cat was back and so was I”? Had the author gone anywhere? Why does he say that he is also back?
A. “My cat was back and so was I” means that just like Zan got his cat back, similarly, he also got a new life. He came out of the gloom that had surrounded him. No, he had not gone anywhere. He says that he was back which implies that he got a new life which was full of affection and warmth.
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