|The Blue Beads|
(i) What were sleepers? What made the timber float down the river?
Ans. Sleepers are rectangular pieces of timber, stone, or steel on or near the ground to support a superstructure, or keep railroad rails in place.
Timber is less dense than water, and the strong flow of water in the river made the timber float down the rivers.
(ii) What is meant by dislodge? How can the sleepers be dislodged?
Dislodge is an act of forcefully removing something or someone from its place or position.
Sleepers that are lying stuck in the stones can be dislodged by delivering sufficient force, manually or mechanically, to the sleepers using a lever like a contrivance. Also, floods can lift them and jostle them along.
(iii) From where did the crocodile come? Why did he come? What was he doing in the shallow waters?
The crocodile came from the deep black water of the river where the flowing streams produced whirlpools.
He came to rest in the glassy shallows, among logs and balanced there on tiptoe on the rippled sand, so that only his eyes and nostrils out of the water to breathe in the fresh sunny air.
(iv) Why did the crocodile raise his eyes and nostrils out of water? The author says, "Now nothing could pierce the inch-thick armoured hide". What does she mean by the sentence given above? Why does she say so?
Ans. The crocodile raised his eyes to get a clear sight of the area around the stepping stones and raised his nostrils to breathe in the fresh sunny air.
The author means to say that the skin of the crocodile was an inch-thick and very strong. The author is suggesting that even the bullets could not tears it if anybody would shot it, it would bounce off.
(v) Who encountered the crocodile later in the story? What did she do to the crocodile and why?
Ans. Later in the story, a little girl named Sibia encountered the crocodile. She killed the crocodile with her hay-fork. She did so in order to save the life of a Gujan woman, whom the crocodile attacked on her leg and wanted to drag her deep into the river.
(i) What is a mugger crocodile? Give its three characteristics features.
Ans. The mugger crocodile is a species of the freshwater crocodile of the Indian subcontinent.
The crocodile was twice the length of a tall man. It had a tail with unimaginable and irresistible power which could propel the strongest flow of water. His mouth, running almost the whole length of his head, was closed and fixed in that evil bony smile, and where the yellow underside came up to it, it was tinged green
(ii) Give Meaning of –
a) antediluvian saurian: It means a large reptile which is very old as if it belonged to the times before the biblical flood.
b) Prehistoric juggernaut: A very ancient animal which is very strong and powerful.
(iii) Describe the appearance of the crocodile. What made him move?
- He was having a throbbing throat.
- The crocodile with a huge tail was twice the length of a tall man.
- It was blackish-brown on above and yellowish-white on the under.
- His armoured hide was one inch thick and nothing could pierce it.
- He lay motionless and able to wait forever till food came.
- The crocodile used the unimaginable and irresistible power of his huge tail to move in the water.
(iv) How can you conclude from the extract that the crocodile was a strong and dangerous animal?
Ans. The crocodile is described as "an antediluvian saurian, a prehistoric juggernaut, ferocious and formidable, a vast force in the water, propelled by the unimaginable and irresistible power of the huge tail", suggests that he was a strong and dangerous animal.
(v) How does the crocodile form an important component in the development of the plot? Give reasons to support your answer.
Ans. The mugger crocodile lived in the river where the villagers used to work and take water. One day while Sibia was taking a short break along with two other Gujjar women, she saw a lady struggling and screaming having been caught by a crocodile.
She immediately rushed to her help and stabbed the crocodile. The crocodile immediately released its grip on the lady who was saved by Sibia. The crocodile is important in the building of the plot because Sibia later finds a blue bead that she always wanted. The story thus entails that Where There is a Will, There is a Way.
(i) What is said about the birth of the crocodile? How can you say that the crocodile was very active even before he was fully hatched?
Ans. The author says that it may be possible that the crocodile was born a hundred years ago, since when it was hatched. The crocodile was very active because as soon as he managed to get his head out of his shell he was looking around ready to snap at anything even before he was fully hatched.
(ii) What is meant by brainless craft and ferocity?
Ans. It means making use of one's craft and ferocity guided purely by natural instinct. The young crocodile could escape from predators by instinctively using his skills and fierceness.
Brainless Craft: brainless, guided by instinct.
Ferocity: the quality or state of being ferocious
(iii) What were the dangers facing the young crocodile?
Ans. The young crocodile faced the dangers of getting eaten by birds of prey and great carnivorous fishes who fed on baby crocodiles.
(iv) How did the young crocodile get the food? How did they store it? What did the big crocodile feed on?
Ans. The young crocodile caught all the food he needed and stored it in holes in the river bank till putrid. The big crocodile fed mostly on fish but had also caught deer, monkeys, ducks, pi-dogs full of parasites, or a skeleton cow. He also went down to the burning ghats and fed on half-burned bodies of Indians caste into the stream.
(v) How is the body of the crocodile strong enough to protect him? How was he vulnerable to an attack?
Ans. The body of the crocodile is protected with an inch thick layer of armoured hide on the above, and nothing can pierce it, even rifle bullets would bounce off.
His eyes and the soft underarms made him vulnerable to an attack.
(i) From where did the little girl come? What did she wear? What was she eating?
Ans. The little girl came from a shrill noisy village above the ford. She was wearing an earthen color rag which she had divided into two, one for a skirt and one for a sari. She was eating chapattis on which she had spread green chili and rancid butter.
(ii) Describe the physical appearance of the little girl.
Ans. The girl was about twelve years old. Her complexion was oily brown. She was thin and dark-colored. Her eyes were big and her hair was black. As she was eating her food her straight white teeth were visible.
(iii) Give evidence to prove that girl was from a poor household.
Ans. The girl belonged to a poor household as she lived in a mud house and wore an earthen color rag, which she divided into two, one for a skirt and another for a sari. Her family could not afford the meal of the day properly. She had never owned even one anna- not a pi, to buy anything from the bazaar.
(iv) Why was the little girl known as a child-woman and born to toil?
Ans. The little girl was known as a child-woman and born to toil because the circumstances had made the girl to sacrifice all her wishes and to tolerate the conditions like a mature woman. She had to do very much hard work, she used to pull off the corn, gathering the sticks, making the cow dung dry, cooking, fetching water, and cutting the fodder for animals.
(v) Describe the strange object found near the crocodile. Justify why the story is named after the object.
Ans. A glimmering blue bead was found near the crocodile. It was a sand-worn blue glass that was perforated right through the middle and was perhaps the neck of the bottle. When Sibia found this, her happiness in killing the crocodile was subsided. So, the title of the story was appropriate.
(i) Where was the bazaar? How did the girl know about it?
Ans. The bazaar was near the railhead in the little town. Very often Sibia had gone to the bazaar with her parents and brother walking all the way through the forests, and hence she came to know about it.
(ii) What had she seen and heard while passing through the bazaar?
Ans. She saw the milling people, and dogs and monkeys full of fleas, the idling gossiping bargaining humanity spitting betel juice. She had heard the bell of a sacred bull clonking as he lumped along through the dust and hubbub.
(iii) What was her experience at the sweetmeat stall? What did she sometimes taste at home?
Ans. She had paused, amazed, before the sweetmeat stall, to gaze at the brilliant honey confection, abuzz with dust and flies. They smelled wonderful, above the smell of drains and humanity and cheap cigarettes
(iv) Describe what Sibia saw at the cloth stall. Did she like the stall? Why?
Ans. She saw a cloth stall stacked with great rolls of new cotton cloth stamped at the edge with the maker’s sign of a tiger’s head. Yes, she liked the stall as it was smelling very wonderful of dressing, straight front from the mills. The smell was so nice that she could have stood there all day.
(v) Was there any significance in Sibia's life of the things sold in the bazaar? What was she marked for from her birth?
Ans. The significance in Sibia’s life of the things that they collect and sell in the bazaar is that it shows the hard way of living their lives. Her family works very hard day today to make a living.
Sibia was marked for work from the time she was born. Since she was ac child, she was put to work. Her work as a child started from picking up sticks, cooking, and other household chores.
(i) Mention any three of the wonders Sibia had seen in the bazaar.
Ans. Sibia had seen many wonderful things in the bazaar. She had seen the satin sewn with real silver thread, tin trays from Birmingham. A sari which had got chips of looking-glass embroidered into the border. She had also seen a Kashmiri traveling merchant showing dawn-colored silks that poured like cream, and he'd got a little locked chest with turquoises and opals in it.
(ii) What did the Kashmiri merchant sell?
Ans. The Kashmiri merchant sold dawn-colored silks that poured like cream, a little locked chest with turquoises and opals in it, and a box which when been pressed, a bell tinkles and a yellow woolen chicken jumps out from the box.
(iii) Describe the box having the best of merchant’s goods.
Ans. The best of all was a box which, when pressed, tinkles a bell, and a yellow woolen chicken jumps out of it.
(iv) How did Sibia used to spend her time since her childhood?
Ans. Sibia had spent her time doing the household work. Sibia worked to earn for her livelihood since her childhood. She had husked corn, and gathered sticks, and put dunk to dry, and cooked and weeded, and carried, and fetched water, and cut grass from the fodder.
(v) What does Sibia's life show about the life of the people living in the vicinity of forests? How was Sibia's life different from the Gujar women's?
Ans. For the people residing in the vicinity of forests, life is full of hardship. The mud house lacks even the basic amenities. Sibia's life is more difficult than the Gujar women as she not only had to do the household work but also had to go up the mountains to cut the paper grass to make a living.
She appears out a hard-working and adventurous girl in the Gujar community. She is the specimen of intractable will power, in sharp contrast to the Gujar woman.
Norah Burke was a well-known English novelist and non-fiction writer, famous for her descriptions of life in India during the early twentieth century. Her father was a forest officer in India and her early childhood was spent travelling through the Indian forests, often on elephant back. She drew inspiration for her writing from these early experiences.
In 'The Blue Bead', Burke paints a vivid graphic picture, rich in detail, of an exciting jungle adventure - an encounter suspense and detailed visual images that make the story come alive for the reader.
The story ends on a note of dramatic irony when Sibia exclaims, "Something did! I found a blue bead for my necklace, look!"
This story the Blue Bead Summary is centred around a young girl Sibia. She was marked for work. Since her childhood, she had been involved in husking corn, gathering sticks and drying of dugs. Also, she uses to cook food and cut grass for fodder. In the story, she went with her mother and others to obtain paper grass from the cliffs above the river. They use to sell it to an agent who despatches it to the paper mills.
The women followed a dusky path towards the river. They passed a Gujar encampment of grass nuts. There lived nomadic graziers. The Gujars were junglis. Sinai, too, was born and bred in the forest. As women reach the river, they started shouting. Noise frightens crocodiles. Thus, the big the crocodile did not move. All the women crossed to the other bank safely. Further, they climbed a still hillside to get the grass women to have to cross the river one more time to reach back home.
However, Sibia delays intentionally. She searched for the cave where she had kept her own handmade clay moulded cups and saucers for drying. When she was wandering around, looks at a Gujar woman who has come to collect water in her container. Suddenly, a crocodile rises out of the black water. It grabbed the woman’s leg between his sharp, uneven teeth.
The woman tries to grab onto a rock for saving her life. However, she fails in her attempt as the crocodile was very ferocious. On looking at this, Sibia, without wasting time, acted wisely to save the woman. She throws her hayfork at the crocodile. It wretches right in its eye. Groaning in pain, the crocodile leaves the woman. Sibia lifts the woman back onto the bank, away from the stream. She stops the blood through the sand. Also, she binds a rag tightly over the wounded area. Then, she assists her to the nearby Gujar encampment from where a man carries her to a hospital.
Then, Sibia going back into the jungle to bring her grass, sickle and fork. The fork was lying near the rock. However, she comes across an already pierced, pretty blue bead while picking up the fork. She plucks it out of the water and was full of happiness. Sibia returned home happily. Her mother was searching for her. She was worried if something wrong has happened to her daughter. However, Sibia narrates the whole incident and shows the blue bead to her mother.
Conclusion of The Blue Beads
The story conveys a very powerful message that if a person has a strong determination to attain something and also has the patience to wait for the same and work for it then you will receive it. Also, it shows the life of rural people who find happiness in the little things.
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