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The Grandmother : Summary, Questions And Answers, N0te

The Grandmother

Writer: Ray Young Bear


“Grandmother” is written in a nostalgic tone. In the poem, the poet has tried to manifest his intimate relation with his grandmother. The love and affection that she showed towards him in his childhood (it is obvious she is no more with the poet), is still imprinted on his mind and heart. To depict the closeness of their relation the poet has successfully utilized two new tools in the poem –
a) conditional sentences, and
b) sensuous images.

The poet boasts that he was so intimate to his grandmother that if he got even a glimpse of her from miles away, his sense of sight would immediately recognize that it was his grandmother by observing her purple scarf and the plastic shopping bag. He was so familiar with her that he could also distinguish that the “warm and damp” hands that were put on his head were of nobody else but of his grandmother. It was not that he could only use his sense of sight or sense of touch to identify his grandmother. His sense of smell and sense of hearing was also equally capable of recognizing her. He could recognize his grandmother from “the smell of roots” that her hands gave off.

Most importantly, the words of his grandmother were a source of inspiration for him. When he used to hear her words, it used to flow inside his body and revive his lost strength and vigour. He has compared its effect with stirring the ashes of sleeping fire to regenerate fire. Fire is the source of energy, light and clarity. Similarly, when the poet used to hear her words it used to fill him with new energy, hope, and erase all his confusions. In other words, she advises were a source of motivation for him.

Important Questions and Answers:

1. What images do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and Fox (Mesquaki) Indian tribe of North America? To what senses do these images appeal?
There are various images used in the poem, for example, ‘purple scarf’, ‘plastic shopping bag’, ‘warm and damp hands with the smell of roots’, ‘voice coming from the rock’ and ‘a sleeping fire at night’. All these images are closely related to the activities and lifestyles of Mesquaki tribal people. Most tribal people do not have the opportunity to enjoy a fairly rich and luxurious life. They buy ordinary stuff in a small amount. As they have to survive on natural plants, it is natural that their hands smell roots which they use as food. Similarly, rocks and night flies are also inseparable parts of tribal life. All these images used in the poem are very much appealing because they provide a rural and rustic setting to the poem. These images give a realistic impression and make the poem very much life-like.

2. How does the speaker have to feel towards his grandmother? In what words or lines does he make his feeling clear?
Ans: The speaker has an affectionate and respectful feeling towards his grandmother. He describes his grandmother in such a way that she becomes the source of love and inspiration to him. He expresses his warm and intimate feeling to her through the words like feeling her ‘warm and damp hands’ and ‘her words would flow inside me like the light’. Here, the grandmother’s words are compared with the light of sleeping night fire which lightens the darkness when it is recovered by removing the ashes. This means that her words lighten the darkness of his life and show the right path to truth, love and goodness.

3. The speaker in “Grandmother” seems to be emotionally attached to his grandmother how?
Ans: The speaker has a positive feeling towards his grandmother. He finds his grandmother all loving and all inspiring. He shows great love and respect towards her. His grandmother is the source of inspiration for him. She is dead now but her image is still in his mind as fresh as before. The words coming from her tomb flows inside him like the light. Here, the speaker wants to flow her every activity because they give him the right path of true love. In this way, the speaker in the poem seems to be emotionally attached to his grandmother.

4. What impression of grandmother does the speaker give in the poem “Grandmother’?
Ans: The speaker has shown great respect and love towards his grandmother by composing the poem ‘Grandmother’ itself. Although she is dead now, her every activity is still in his mind. The speaker still remembers her shape, her purple scarf, her plastic shopping bag, her warm and damp hands, her voice etc. He would feel her words flowing inside him as the light coming out of a sleeping fire at night against the darkness. He says that her voice would be a source of inspiration in this way the speaker gives the impression of love, respect, honour in the poem ‘Grandmother’.

5. What is the main idea of the poem “Grandmother’ by Ray young Bear?
Ans: The poem “Grandmother is the outcome of the speaker’s love and respects towards his grandmother. The poet emphasizes that even the dead person can be the source of inspiration. The speaker’s grandmother is dead but he is following her every activity to succeed in his life. The speaker says that the words coming from her tomb flows inside him like the light, to sum up, the main idea of the poem is that the speaker feels a deep sense of intimacy towards his grandmother and finds her inspiring and loving.

6. What are the four things that Ray young Bear remembers about his grandmother?
Ans: The poem “Grandmother is the outcome of the speaker’s love and respects towards his grandmother. The four things that the poet still remembers about his grandmother are:
a) He remembers her shape.
b) He remembers her purple scarf and a plastic shopping bag.
c)He remembers her hands on his head.
d) He remembers her voice coming from a rock.

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