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Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers NCERT Text Book Questions and Answers
Before you Read
Q.What does the title of the poem suggest to you? Are you reminded of other poems on tigers?
Answer:The title, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, suggests that the poem is about Aunt Jennifer’s knitted tigers that, with their chivalric, ferocious, bright and carefree attitude, become an alternate world of her creation. The tigers are the only means of free expression in her life, which is otherwise burdened by fear and struggles of the married life.
There are many other poems written about tigers, some of which are given below.
“The Tiger” by William Blake
“Tiger” by Alec Derwent Hope
“Tiger Drinking at Forest Pool” by Ruth Padel
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Think it out
Q1. How do “denizens” and “chivalric” add to our understanding of the tiger’s attitudes?
Answer:Unlike their creator who sunk into the background, the tigers were described as “bright topaz denizens”. The tigers were energetic and free to “prance” or run around in the jungle, and in their creator’s imagination. The tigers were created bright, like “topaz”, and they inhabited a world that is green. The “bright topaz denizens of green” evoke a mental image of majestic tigers not bound by the whims of another being. They are in their natural environment. The tigers are conceived as inherently male, they are chivalric, hence tied to the long tradition of male authority and power. However, their “chivalric certainty” is a representation of the power envisioned by Aunt Jennifer for herself. This idea is then contrasted with Aunt Jennifer’s reality where she in turn was dominated by male superiority.
Q2. Why do you think Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering through her wool’ in the second stanza? Why is she finding the needle so hard to pull?
Answer:Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering through her wool’ because she is an old lady on whom age has taken its toll. The fluttering of Aunt Jennifer’s fingers also signifies her oppressed mental condition which makes it difficult for her to even pull an ivory needle while embroidering.
Q3.What is suggested by the image “massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band”?
Answer:The struggle for existence in a harsh world, the deep conflicts of bondage and freedom and gender conflict is portrayed through the use of the evocative image. The genders are polarised. Aunt Jennifer was victimized by the absent Uncle, represented only by his wedding band, while he is representative of the oppression of custom and law.
Q4. Of what or of whom is Aunt Jennifer terrified with in the third stanza?
Answer:Even after death, Aunt would carry her fear of her domineering husband as she would yet bear the burden of the wedding band on her finger. The ordeals faced by her in an oppressive marriage would continue to terrify her.
Q5. What are the ordeals Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word “ringed”? What are the meanings of the word “ringed” in the poem?
Answer:The word “ringed” has a double association. It indicates not only the ring that “sits heavily” on her hand, but the difficulties in her life that would continue to surround her.
Even in death, she is seen to conform to the patriarchal society in which she lived. The ring on her finger symbolised the weight she had to bear, dead or alive. Just as she created and controlled her needlework, society and gender roles created and controlled her.
Q6. Why do you think Aunt Jennifer created animals that are so different from her own character?
What might the poet be suggesting, through this difference?
Answer:The timid and fearful Aunt Jennifer creates an alternative world of free and fearless tigers to express her longing for freedom, a medium of escape from her grim marriage.
The ironical contrast underscores a warning by the poet against acceptance of subjugation by women as it crushes their dreams, individuality and a full life.
Q7. Interpret the symbols found in this poem.
Answer:Adrienne Rich uses a number of similes and symbols in the poem to convey her theme. The tigers, of course, symbolise the freedom of spirit which Aunt Jennifer dreams of attaining but never achieves except in her dreams and her art. Aunt Jennifer represents of her gender rather than any one individual.
The tigers are symbolic of the true nature of the freedom that a woman’s soul represents. They also display in art the values that Aunt Jennifer must repress or displace in life: strength, assertion, fearlessness and fluidity of motion. The image of the tiger is both inspiring and destructive. And the poem’s conclusion celebrates the animal images as a kind of triumph, transcending the constraints of their maker’s life.
The word ‘ringed’ has a double connotation—indicating not only the ring that “sits heavily” on her hand, but the difficulties in her life that will continue to surround her.
Q8. Do you sympathise with Aunt Jennifer? What is the attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer?
Answer:Yes, the character of Aunt Jennifer wins our sympathy as a reader. Her ordeals and sufferings move the reader. Even the speaker in the poem shows sympathy and pity towards her. The speaker says that even after Aunt Jennifer’s death, she will be terrified of her husband and the ordeals of her marriage.
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Extra Questions and Answers
Q1.What are the characteristics of the tigers?
Answer:The tigers have a striking appearance as they are described as “bright topaz”. They are energetic and prance about. They enjoy their freedom and hence run across the screen. The majestic tigers are not dictated by the whims of others. They are fearless and chivalrous. The elegant tigers are confident of themselves.
Q2. What do you learn about Aunt Jennifer?
Answer:Aunt Jennifer was a weak woman with fluttering fingers. She was terrified of Uncle and found it difficult to manoeuvre the needle. Thus, implying that she was oppressed by a burdensome marriage where she was subjugated by Uncle.
Q3.What does Aunt Jennifer’s creation of the tigers symbolize?
Answer:Aunt Jennifer’s creation of the tigers symbolizes her desires. Her fingers flutter to create the beautiful image of the tigers. By creating those tigers, she lets loose her inner aspirations. The wedding band sits “heavily” on her hand and keeps her from the only sense of expression she has—her needlepoint.
Q4. What does Aunt Jennifer’s death signify?
Answer:In the last stanza of the poem, the poet gives us a surprisingly truthful look at the reality and the end of Aunt Jennifer and women in her position all over the world. Aunt Jennifer is a subjugated even in death; she must conform to the norms of the patriarchal society. The ring around her finger symbolizes the weight she must bear dead or alive.
Q5. What are the ‘ordeals’ Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word ‘ringed’? What are the meanings of the word ‘ringed’ in the poem?
Answer:Aunt Jennifer has been living her life in accordance with the rules laid down by her husband. Her life lacks expression and is overburdened by the demands and duties of her married life. Although old and weak, she still has to face oppression by her husband. These are the ordeals that the poet talks about.
The use of word ‘ringed’, in the poem, is significant and appropriate because it correctly represents the vicious circle from which Aunt Jennifer is unable to free herself. The word ‘ringed’ not only indicates that she is wearing her wedding ring but also that she is bound by the responsibilities, fear and oppression of her marriage for entire life and, probably, after it too.
Q6.What is the theme of the poem?
Answer:“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” clearly reflects the gender struggle that women across the world are subject to. It is a feminist poem in which the poet criticizes the male-dominated world. Aunt Jennifer is left no option than to create an alternate world of freedom. Aunt Jennifer is a woman trapped by the social and cultural expectations and demands of her time.
Q7. Who do you think is the speaker of the poem? Why do you say so?
Answer:The speaker of the poem is the niece; the word “Aunt” shows her relationship with the speaker. The point of view here would seem to be that of a woman, indicating that the speaker is the niece of Aunt Jennifer’s. The niece voices a woman’s struggles with expression, rebellion, and a society where power is defined as masculine. The poem deals with a woman’s representation of Aunt Jennifer’s dreams, reality and the future.
Q8.Interpret the following symbols found in this poem.
Answer:(a) The tigers symbolize the freedom of spirit which Jennifer dreams of attaining but never achieves except in her dreams and her art.
(b) Aunt Jennifer is symbolic of women as a whole rather than one individual.
(c) Aunt Jennifer’s embroidery may exist forever as the work that she leaves behind; in life, she was nothing like the tigers in her embroidery.
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Value Based Question
Q1. How does the poet advocate gender sensitisation in the poem?
Answer:The poem reflects the gender struggle; Adrienne Rich criticizes the male-dominated world for terrifying and oppressing women as symbolized by Aunt Jennifer, leaving her with no alternative but to create an alternate world of freedom for herself with her sewing. The embroidering of tigers on the panel, her only form of expression, underlines a woman’s struggles with expression, rebellion, and a society where power is defined as masculine. The poet depicts the pain of a woman who is living with a husband who dominates her. Her hidden, vibrant inner life is in sharp contrast to the outer image of the terrified, trapped woman.
The poem is almost a tragedy relating the plight of women trapped in an unhappy marriage. The poet makes her stance clear by using the figure of independent and fearless tigers as a telling symbol of an ideal that women like Aunt Jennifer seek to approximate. Adrienne Rich yearns for freedom and equality for all women.
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NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo
- Class 12 English Chapter 1 The Last Lesson
- Class 12 English Chapter 2 Lost Spring
- Class 12 English Chapter 3 Deep Water
- Class 12 English Chapter 4 The Rattrap
- Class 12 English Chapter 5 Indigo
- Class 12 English Chapter 6 Poets and Pancakes
- Class 12 English Chapter 7 The Interview
- Class 12 English Chapter 8 Going Places
NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poetry
- Poem 1 My Mother at Sixty-six Class 12 English
- Poem 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Class 12 English
- Poem 3 Keeping Quiet Class 12 English
- Poem 4 A Thing of Beauty Class 12 English
- Poem 5 A Roadside Stand Class 12 English
- Poem 6 Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Class 12 English
NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Vistas
- Class 12 English Chapter 1 The Third Level
- Class 12 English Chapter 2 The Tiger King
- Class 12 English Chapter 3 Journey to the end of the Earth
- Class 12 English Chapter 4 The Enemy
- Class 12 English Chapter 5 Should Wizard hit Mommy
- Class 12 English Chapter 6 On the face of It
- Class 12 English Chapter 7 Evans Tries an O-level
- Class 12 English Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood