|The Cold Within|
(i) Which figure of speech is used in the line "In bleak and bitter cold"? What special significance do the adjective bleak and bitter have?
Ans. Alliteration is used in the line "In bleak and bitter cold". Six humans are caught against their will in "bleak and bitter cold", but none of them uses the wooden stick each one has.
The cold is bleak and bitter because these six humans are not warm or friendly with one another. The atmosphere is bleak because there is no hope for anyone to survive.
(ii) Who are the people referred to in the above extract? Why do they need logs?
Ans. The six people who are different from each other on the basis of races, envy, revenge, etc. are referred in the above extracts. They were need the logs because they needed logs of wood to keep the fire burning.
(iii) What character traits would you associate with "the first one" and "the next" man? Why?
Ans. The first person who is a woman is prejudiced when she notices that one of the faces around the fire is black. She, therefore, hold her log back.
The next man is a bigot who on seeing that one of the men in the group does not belong to the same church (i.e. religion community) as his. This fact prevents himself from using his log to renew the fire.
(iv) What does the first one hold back and why?
Ans. The first person holds back her log because she was guided by her prejudiced attitude towards the black man. So she does not use the log to prevent the black man from getting its warmth.
(v) State how the following line is connected with the theme of the poem:
Their dying fire in need of logs
Ans. Metaphorically, it can be understood as the fire of compassion in their hearts that is dying. To keep it burning what they need is a log of wood, but they do not use it, Thus, by the end, each one of them dies from "the cold within". The outside cold could have been taken care of only if they were not cold from within.
(i) What is meant by ‘tattered clothes’? What does this expression symbolise? Why does the ‘third one’ give his coat a hitch?
Ans. Tattered clothes means tore or racked clothes. It symbolises that person is a poor man. To protect himself from freezing cold he gives his coat a hitch. He does not use his log to prevent the reach man sitting there from getting warm.
(ii) The "third one" doesn't want to use his log to warm the rich. Why?
Ans. The man seems to be a victim of discrimination based on the economic standard of different individuals. He is envious of the rich man consider him as 'idle'. He is prejudiced and thus does not use his log to prevent the rich man sitting there from getting warm.
(iii) What thoughts preoccupy the rich man’s mind? What does it say about him?
Ans. The rich man, obvious to reality, thinking that how to safeguard the wealth he possessed from poor man who is considered as lazy and aimless. It reflects the thinking of rich people toward the poor and it also refect the class bias of rich man.
(iv) What prejudice the black man has from whom?
Ans. The black man is filled with revenge for the white man. Based on the colour of the skin, the racism he considers the white man different from himself.
(v) Explain the following lines:
For all, he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
Ans. It means that the black man's face looks revengeful and the only thing visible to him in his stick is a chance to harm the white man.
(i) Explain the phrase "forlorn group". Which figure of speech is used here?
Ans. It is ironical and sad that these six people sitting together in a group are "forlorn". Their cold-heartedness invites death in the end and they die which their logs held tight in their hands. the figure of speech is used here an 'oxymoron' in which opposite ideas are put together.
(ii) What game is the poet referring to while mentioning the last man of the group?
Ans. Poet referring the game of "selfishness"(give and take). The last man of this lonely group does nothing except something for his benefit, was seemed to be a selfish business. He gives only to those who give him something back in return.
(iii) What "proof of human sin" is being referred to here? Explain.
Ans. Their logs being held tight in their hands invite death. It is nothing but proof of human sin. The poem ends with a note that these six people die not from the freezing cold outside but of the cold within them, lack of humanity, and treatment of discrimination.
(iv) The port says that the characters "died from the cold within". What does he mean?
Ans. Owning to their prejudices against one another, it becomes difficult for them to put their stick into the fire. Discrimination, racism and bigotry prove futile as none of the six people says alive by the end. Each perishes, not because of cold outside but of the cold-heartedness within each.
(v) What message is the poet trying to convey in the poem? How does he succeed in carrying out his task?
Ans. The message that the poet tries to give is that discriminatory attitude and bigotry that humans have against one another on the basis of race, class and religion is futile. It is self-destruction. The six-person in the poem can be seen as representative of the whole human race. It is said that these people are overtaken by the feeling of revenge, spite and anger to such an extent that eventually these prejudices lead to their death. Warmth and compassion for each other are not seen in them.
James Patrick Kinney is an American poet who wrote this poem in the I960s. Although it was first rejected as being too controversial, it gained popularity rapidly after it had been read out at a council meeting of all religions.
The poem describes the tragic death of a group of six who stand around a fire - each holding on grimly to a log of wood. Allowing their selfishness, prejudice, malice and suspicions to dictate their actions, they refuse to share the log to fuel the dying fire and keep each other warm. Eventually, the fire dies out and in the morning all six of them are found frozen to death, each clutching, even in death, a log that could have so easily saved their lives if only they had overcome the petty barriers of class, race and religion that divided them.
The poem is a simple yet powerful reminder that if we selfishly hold on to the world's resources, and the wealth that it has to offer, if we persist in discriminating on grounds of race, religion, caste, gender and ethnicity, we are all lost!
The article, The Cold Within Summary is a brief account of the poem ‘The Cold Within’. It begins with the lady who didn’t want to protect a black man in the group. This shows the attitude based on racism. This attitude will backfire the person at last.
The other man saw a person of a different religion. Thus, he didn’t help him. This shows there was discrimination in his mind based on religion.
The third one was a poor man. He was dressed in rags. He was jealous of wealthy people and called them lazy. Thus, he pulled his coat to warm himself but hold back his log.
Furthermore, the wealthy person didn’t want to offer anything to the poor. He thought that the poor did not deserve anything. There was a black man too. He was filled with the feeling of revenge against the white person. Moreover, the last man was full of selfishness. He used to help only on finding something beneficial for him i.e. he should be able to gain something out of it.
Each one trapped in the cold was sinful. The logs in their hands represented their prejudices. None of them was willing to give up the same. They were unaware that these feelings would end up killing themselves. He or she was committing sins of racism, jealously, arrogance, revenge. It appears as if the sticks they held tightly in their hands were the signs of revenge and hatred. They lacked the quality of being a human. They all acted in an ungrateful manner. Thus, they all invited death for themselves due to their selfish behaviour. The feelings of revenge and hatred are termed as the coldness of their hearts.
However, the fire is used to symbolize common good. It carries a message that each one should give up their feelings of enviousness, selfishness and hostility towards another race or caste and help each other. This is the only way in which people can achieve salvation. When people fail to respect each other, have ill-feelings and discriminate each other, they become victims of their own downfall.
This article, the Coldness Within, the poet tries to explain the effect of prejudices in one’s life. People have to pay the price when they let their prejudices control their actions. These prejudices make us insensitive towards other people and we tend to behave inhumanly. We regard other people as inferior or hostile and lose compassion. We end up losing everything.
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