En Route to America: Summary Meanings Answers

‘En Route to America’ is lesson from class 8: Question Answers, summary, meanings and a video tutorial are a part of this post here for class 8 students studying Wind Chimes English Textbook.

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It is a story set in pre-partition years of India. The author and her sister are sent to America by their parents. They went on a troop ship at the height of the war. So, they are led to the ship in the guidance of their aunt. Both the sisters are new and have never travelled on their own in the ship. While the author initially gets sea sickness but eventually enjoys the company of the fellow passengers on the ship. The ship had no facilities for recreation and it seemed drab, dull and there was always a possibility of an attack by an enemy submarine. The author further goes on informing that the ship had two classes of passengers, officers and troop. The author eventually gets used to the sea-sickness and often went to the deck for fresh air. She also started enjoying food. The sisters feel the first inkling that the route was chilly when they shivered as they had not brought warm clothes. They were not prepared to get chills at the end of May. They eventually found that they were approaching Australia. However, they could not go ashore as it was not allowed for the civilians. As the author stood on the deck, she was approached by a young soldier who had not been home for a long time and knew the horrors of war. He and the author exchange information about her country and they eventually leave the deck go inside the ship as it was getting dark.


perpetually – continuously

baffle – bewilder, confuse making you not able to understand (हैरान करना)

troop – soldiers in large group

circumstances – situations, condition (हालात एवं परिस्थितियाँ )

rush through – try to complete any work in a hurry

entail – require as a necessary part or accompaniment or consequence

apprehensive – worried and concerned (आशंकित)

efficient – good at doing things without wasting time and energy (कुशल एवं परिस्थितियों के अनुसार निपटने की छमता) sage

advice – a very good advice based on experience

recreation – pleasant activities that one enjoys doing during spare time (eg. a sport or hobby) (मनोरंजन)

amenities – something that makes a place comfortable to live in (सुख-सुविधायें)

dispirited – lacking enthusiasm, losing liveliness unconcerned – not worried or caring about

exhilarated – very happy and excited, feeling lively and spirited

lay ahead – going to happen in coming times

mingle – to get involved or mixed-up with (घुलमिल जाना)

missionary – a person on religious mission from a church

furlough – to give somebody permission to leave their duties for a period of time

porthole – a rounded window in the side of a ship or an aircraft

hilarity – moments of great merriment, joy and happiness

reeked – smelled strongly unpleasant (दुर्गंध, बदबू आना )

inkling – a vague idea or hint or slight understanding of something happening (अंदेशा)

slacks – loose fitting causal trousers flimsy – weak, light and thin or inadequate (हल्का, पतला एवं अपर्याप्त)

clad – wearing and covered in clothes marvel – express wonder or amazement (ताज्जुब करना)

souvenir – anything that reminds one of a place or people or occasion (यादगार निशानी)

register – here it means to show or express a feeling

curtly – replying briefly and to the point withering

reply – a reply intending to make somebody feel silly or ashamed unabashed – not ashamed

occur – to happen, (occur to somebody – to come into mind)

bewilder – to confuse or puzzle completely laugh

up one’s sleeve – to laugh secretly by hiding it

good-humouredly – in a cheerful way

inquisitive – curious and asking too many questions

Pacific War – the World War II in Asia-pacific region

abrupt – talking in a rude and sharp way

a while – for a short time

Textbook Solutions


A. Answer these questions briefly.

  1. What was in the carved wooden box and why did the girl’s, aunt give it to them?
  2. What was the state of mind of the aunt when she was sending off the girls?
  3. ‘Lekha and I were totally unconcerned about these warnings.’ What were these warnings?
  4. What were the two categories of passengers on the ship?
  5. What did the military friend bring for the girls from Australia?
  6. Why did the narrator feel ashamed while talking to the young soldier?
  7. Why did the soldier think that the narrator was not an Indian?


1. The carved wooden box contained Indian soil. She had given it to make children remind of their homeland and it would also help them in the situations of homesickness.

2. The aunt was very worried and concerned about leaving the children alone on a trip amid war situations.

3. The warnings were – the ship would not have any of the peacetime amenities and there was danger of an enemy submarine attack.

4. There were two categories – the officer and the troop.

5. The military friend brought a metal kangaroo and boomerang as souvenir.

6. She was ashamed to admit to a stranger that she was feeling homesick.

7. It was so because she spoke English very well.

B. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

  1. I could never send my children away from home so confidently and fearlessly in such circumstances.
    a. Who does the narrator have in mind when she says, ‘so confidently and fearlessly’?
    b. Which event in her life is she referring to here?
    c. What does she mean by ‘such circumstances?
  2. ‘The thing to remember,’ she said, ‘is to look helpless but be efficient.’
    a. Who says this to whom?
    b. What did she mean by this advice?
    c. At what point does the speaker give this advice?
  3. But I was delighted at even this small glimpse of land.
    a. Who says this and at what point in their journey?
    b. What can be inferred by ‘but’ and ‘even’?
    c. What land did she have a glimpse of?


  1. a. It was her parents she was talking about.
    b. She and her sister travelling to America alone in 1943, in a troop ship during the second world
    war is the event she is talking about.
    c. She meant that the war was on.
  2. a. The girls’ aunt, Krishna Hutee sing said this.
    b. If they looked helpless, someone would help them. If not then they would be efficient enough
    to take care of themselves.
    c. When the sisters were about embark the ship.
  3. a. The narrator says this when their ship reached Australia.
    b. It can be inferred that it was cold and foggy on the deck. She had been on the ship for long
    and was homesick, so even a glimpse of land cheered her.
    c. The city of Melbourne.

C. Answer these questions.

  1. What question baffled the narrator and why?
  2. How did the aunt help the girls before their journey?
  3. Explain in your own words the phrase: ‘the ship’s heaving rhythm.’
  4. How did the narrator entertain herself on the ship?
  5. Describe in your own words the wide assortment of passengers on the ship.
  6. Compare and contrast the personalities of the two sisters. Give examples from the text.
  7. Describe the experience of the narrator on the ship before she started enjoying the trip.
  8. What precautionary drill was held on the ship every day?
  9. How did the narrator prepare herself for the drill and how did her sister react to it?
  10. Describe in your own words the encounter between the narrator and the young soldier.


1. The question that baffled her was that her parents had the courage and confidence to send her and Lekha on a troop ship to America amid war.

2. She helped them with shopping and various other arrangements seeing them off at the dock.

3. It means regular up and down movement of the ship.

4. She went out on to the deck and enjoyed the spray of ocean water on her face.

5. It was a troop ship and people from many countries were aboard the ship.

  • People from 11 nationalities
  • Maori army officer
  • A thin English man who complained about the weather
  • Tall Dutch officer who entertained them
  • A quiet Chinese student

6. The narrator -Nayantara gets homesick and she is very concerned about her appearance. Lekha – the efficient one, had a sense of humour, offered moral support to the narrator, more practical.

7. She fell sick due to the motion of the ship and the cabin was very stuffy, there was foul smell in the airless cabin. She also rolled down from her bunk

8. The drill was that the command “all hands abandon ship” was broadcast loud and everyone had to run to the deck.

9. Nayantara was also concerned with the look of her appearance. During the drill announcement she would prefer to go to cabin and comb her hair before coming to the deck. Lekha was more practical and thought it was foolish to do so when it was a life and death question.

10. Nayantara was initially did not like the young soldier asking too many questions. She felt angry at his remark if her parents were missionaries. She also did not take it comfortable when he showed his ignorance of political activities in India. Later on, she became more amiable when she came to know that he was also fighting for his own country and was out of his country for one year.


A. From the text, make a list of words or phrases related to:

  1. the ship                         2.  the people (their looks, personality or traits)


1. the ship – amenities, seasickness, deck, cabin, messroom, bunks, voyage, porthole, heaving rhythm, submarine, disciplinary exercise.

2. people – apprehensive, helpless, efficient, rumbling laughter, gazed soulfully, companionable, ragamuffin, thoughtful, shy wiry etc

B. Now make sentences from the text using these words or phrases to bring out their meanings.

Answer:  Do yourself

C. Explain these phrases and expressions in your own words. You may use a dictionary.

  1. uncontrolled hilarity
  2. The airless cabin reeked of stale odour.
  3. There was zigzag ocean in full view to taunt me.
  4. to make Hitler laugh up his sleeve
  5. think of the ocean in poetical terms


1. laughter which cannot be controlled

2. stuffiness in a small, smelly cabin

3. Out on the deck due to the movement of the ship the waves went zigzag. These appeared to tease the narrator who wanted fresh air and freedom from motion.

4. Hitler would have laughed secretly at the idea of fighting for freedom. He did not allow any such thing.

5. The narrator would have to think of the ocean like a poet not to be frightened of it.

D. Certain expressions used by the narrator are contrasting in nature. Choose any one such expression and explain why you like it.

For example:  ‘…flimsy protection against the powerful ocean breeze’
You may notice the contrast in this phrase.

Answer: Do it yourself


A. Combine these pairs of sentences as directed.

  1. It was a beautiful scene. It was very refreshing. (simple)
  2. My father likes gardening. It is his pastime. (simple)
  3. It was my brother’s first journey by plane. He was very nervous. (compound)
  4. I like walking in the park. The breeze feels so cool on my cheeks. (complex)
  5. I don’t like playing tennis. I like playing table tennis. (compound)
  6. He was late for the exam. He was allowed to do the paper. (complex)
  7. Eat your lunch. Come back from school. (complex)
  8. I got up from sleep. I heard a loud noise. (simple)
  9. My mother makes tea for everyone in the family. She does not drink it. (complex)
  10. Rattan finished his homework. He watched television. (compound)


1. It was a beautiful and very refreshing scene.

2. My father likes gardening which is his pastime.

3. It was my brother’s first journey by plane and was very nervous.

4. I like walking in the park as the breeze feels so cool on my cheeks.

5. I don’t like playing tennis but I like playing table tennis.

6. Although he was late for the exam, he was allowed to do the paper.

7. Eat your lunch after/when you Come back from school.

8. I got up from sleep when I heard a loud noise.

9. My mother makes tea for everyone in the family though She does not drink it.

10. Rattan finished his homework and watched television.

B. Fill in these blanks with appropriate reporting verbs given in the box.

warned explained asked enquired ordered
informed advised suggested exclaimed told

B. Fill in these blanks with appropriate reporting verbs given in the box.

informedadvised suggestedexclaimedtold
  1. The teacher …………………………… us that she would be on leave for a few days.
  2. Our neighbour …………………………… the police about the theft in his house.
  3. The General …………………………… the troops to move forward.
  4. The doctor …………………………… the patient to take medicines regularly.
  5. Ritesh …………………………… me what time the meeting was going to start.
  6. The small boy …………………………… excitedly that the painting was beautiful.
  7. Ahmed …………………………… that it would be easy to work in a group.
  8. The boy …………………………… that he was late as he did not hear the alarm in the morning.
  9. The tourist from the receptionist what time the bus would leave.
  10. The traffic policeman …………………………… the scooterist that it was dangerous to ride without a helmet.


1. told 2. informed 3. ordered 4. advised 5. asked 6. exclaimed 7. suggested 8. explained 9. enquired 10. warned

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