NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poem 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

Page No: 92

Before you Read

Q1. Have you ever visited or seen an elementary school in a slum? What does it look like?

Answer:- Yes, I have visited an elementary school in a slum. The school was in a pitiful state. Its dingy and neglected classrooms were devoid of even basic amenities like fan and lights. Every single window was broken and bore marks of rust. How the students in the classroom dealt with the outside noise or the winters was anybody’s guess. The ceilings too were full of cobwebs. The furniture was broken and almost unusable. The walls of the classrooms were as shabby, malnourished and disinterested as the students sitting in their enclosures. Even the teachers seemed to have lost their concern both for the students and their education. Moreover, I was shocked to know that the usage of toilets was restricted to the school staff.

Page No: 93

Think it Out

Q1. Tick the item which best answers the following.

(a) The tall girl with her head weighed down means the girl __________.

(i) is ill and exhausted
(ii) has her head bent with shame
(iii) has untidy hair

(b) The paper-seeming boy with rat’s eyes means the boy is __________.

(i) sly and secretive
(ii) thin, hungry and weak
(iii) unpleasant looking

(c) The stunted, unlucky heir of twisted bones means the boy __________.

(i) has an inherited disability
(ii) was short and bony

(d) His eyes live in a dream. A squirrel’s game, in the tree room other than this. This means the boy is __________.

(i) full of hope in the future
(ii) mentally ill
(iii) distracted from the lesson

(e) The children’s faces are compared to ‘rootless weeds’. This means they __________.

(i) are insecure
(ii) are ill-fed
(iii) are wasters


(a) (ii) is ill and exhausted
(b) (ii) thin, hungry and weak
(c) (i)has an inherited disability
(d) (iii) distracted from the lesson
(e) (iii)are wasters

Page No: 94

Q2. What do you think is the colour of ‘sour cream’? Why do you think the poet has used this expression to describe the classroom walls?

Answer:- Sour cream indicates the colour cream or dirty white. The poet has used this expression to describe the poor dull and ill-equipped environment of the classroom. The walls were painted long ago by donations and since then no attention has been given to them. We see the neglect these children face. It adds to the dull ambiance.

Q3. The walls of the classroom are decorated with the pictures of ‘Shakespeare’, ‘buildings with domes’, ‘world maps’ and beautiful valleys. How do these contrast with the world of these children?

Answer:- All these totally contrast with the world of the children in the slum. They get half education, the value of education for the children is minimal and to have these pictures which are symbols of high quality education is incongruous here. The buildings with domes are examples of a civilised world, the world unknown to them. The world map is irrelevant to them because the slums, their world cannot be located by them. Finally, the beautiful valley with rivers and capes is meaningless to them. They just have the polluted sky to watch from the broken window panes. These children are deprived of natural beauty.

Q4. What does the poet want for the children of the slums? How can their lives be made to change?

Answer:- He wants the children of the slums to venture into the outside world, beyond the boundaries of their slums, and experience a better present and future life.
The elementary school in the slum does not serve any purpose with its poor infrastructure and disinterested students. The poet feels that the governor, inspector and visitors should take initiative to bring about a real change in their situation. To ensure a better way of living for them, they need to be given proper education and freedom from their present confines. They need opportunity, encouragement and optimism to be able to live life with purpose and zest.

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Extra Questions and Answers

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Short Answer Questions

Q1. How does the poet describe the classroom walls?

Answer:- According to the poet, the walls of the classroom are discoloured and have a faded look which looks like sour cream. The poet compares the faded walls to that of the faces of the children who look pale.

Q2.“So blot their maps with slums as big as doom,” says Stephen Spender. What does the poet want to convey?

Answer:- The poet is requesting to provide a clean atmosphere. The world maps create just an illusion. He is telling that the teachers and rulers must take these children out in the open green fields and golden beaches.

Q3.What does the poet want for the children of the slums?
What does Stephen Spender want to be done for the children of the school in a slum?

Answer:- The poet wants the children of the slum to get rid of the dull and morbid state of affairs of the school. They should be provided with basic civic amenities, proper educational infrastructure, and great accessible opportunities to explore the world outside with its gifts and bounties. The poet wishes good education for the children of the slums as he thinks that it is only education that can free these children from the shackles of poverty.

Q4. In spite of despair and disease pervading the lives of the slum children, they are not devoid of hope. How far do you agree?

Answer:- The burden of poverty and disease crushes the slum children physically. They are denied basic amenities of food, shelter and education. Despite living in deprivation, these children fight the battle of life courageously. They still dream and hope for a better future.

Q5. The poet says, ‘And yet, for these children, these windows, not this map, their world…’ Which world do these children belong to? Which world is inaccessible to them?

Answer:- In these words, the poet wants to convey that the slum children have never gone out of the slum, so the world map was meaningless in the classroom. It was only through the open window of the classroom, that they could see the world outside. So he wants the window to be made bigger and the children should be able to come out and see the outside world for themselves.

Q6. What is the theme of the poem, ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’?

Answer:- The poem, ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’ highlights the theme of social injustice and class inequalities in the society. The meaninglessness of having such schools in the slums is brought out. The poet wants meaningful education for the slum children which will liberate their minds and pave a way for them for a better future.

Q7.MWhat is the irony in ‘run azure on gold sands?’

Answer:- Gold sands refer to the sand of deserts while azure is the colour of the nature in spring season. Nothing grows in the desert. The world of the poor children is also like the desert sand. The irony in the expression is the impossibility of spring in the desert land.

Q8. Explain; ‘From fog to endless night.’

Answer:- It describes the miserable life of the slum children. From morning till night, these children make desperate attempts to live life despite all odds. Their life is full of misery, hopelessness and suffering.

Q9. What is the message that Stephen Spender wants to convey through this poem?
What message does Stephen Spender convey through the poem, ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’?

Answer:- The need is to free these children, liberate them and bring them into the mainstream by bringing meaningful changes to improve the standard of life and education in the slums. The poet deals with the theme of social injustice and class inequalities. There are two different worlds. Art, culture and literature have no relevance to the slum children. They live in dark, narrow, cramped holes and lanes. Unless the gap between the two worlds is abridged, there can’t be any real progress or development. The children will have to be made mentally and physically free to lead happy lives.

Q10. How does the poem, ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’ portray the children?

Answer:- The slum children in an elementary school look pathetic. They are undernourished and diseased. Their unkempt and dull hair has been compared to rootless weeds. One of the girls is apparently burdened with the miseries of poverty. Another boy has inherited his father’s diseases and has stunted growth.

Q11. How is ‘Shakespeare wicked and the map a bad example’ for the children of the school in a slum?

Answer:- Both represent a beautiful world and high values which the slum children will have never experienced. Since the slum children cannot relate to these things, there was no point in giving such examples.

Q12. What does Stephen Spender want for the children of the slums?

Answer:- Stephen Spender wants that slum children should be taken care of by providing them facilities to make their survival fit and to gift them the fruits of literacy. He urges people to help these slum children come out of poverty and oppression of the power.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Others Chapter

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Prose

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poetry

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Vistas

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