CBSE Class XII Core Course Book Flamingo Poetry Solutions for the Poem “My Mother at Sixty-Six”. The answers to textbook questions are as per CBSE standards for full marks scoring. To help students develop more insight, some questions carry more than one answer.
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My Mother at Sixty-Six Textbook Solutions
Think it Out
1. What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?
Ans. The poet feels a pain and ache of realising the ageing and mortality of her mother. She initially tries to push away the thought of her mother’s advanced age, but upon seeing her again at the airport, the poet is struck by the sight of her mother’s pale and wan appearance, which brings back a childhood fear and ache. Despite this, the poet puts on a brave face and smiles as she says goodbye to her mother, expressing her love and affection.
The poet is anguished to witness her mother’s pallid, corpse-like countenance, which evokes a sense of nostalgia for the days when she was vibrant and youthful. The poet is overwhelmed by the fear of losing her mother and is torn apart by the possibility of not seeing her alive again. She decides to visit her hometown, but the pain, insecurity, and fear of her childhood return with a vengeance, rekindling her apprehension of losing her mother.
2. Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’?
Ans. The young trees are described as “sprinting” to create a visual image of their growth and vitality. The word “sprinting” suggests rapid movement, energy, and enthusiasm, which are qualities associated with youth and vitality. The poet is juxtaposing the image of the young and lively trees with the image of her ageing mother who is dozing beside her. This contrast highlights the transience of life and the inevitability of ageing and mortality.
As the car speeds down the road, the poet observes the young trees sprinting by, their swift passage creating the illusion of motion. This contrast sharply with the poet’s depiction of her aged, ashen mother, who has weakened with the passage of time. Additionally, it highlights the disparity between the lively, vigorous trees and the mother who appears to be dozing, further emphasizing the mother’s frailty and the inexorable march of time.
3. Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’?
Ans. The image of the merry children spilling out of their homes serves as a contrast to the image of the poet’s ageing mother dozing beside her. The children’s playful and carefree nature juxtaposes with the sombre and reflective mood of the poet, who is coming to terms with her mother’s ageing and mortality. The image also reflects the cyclical nature of life – the children represent the beginning of life, while the poet’s mother represents the end of life. The contrast highlights the inevitability of the ageing process and the cycle of life and death. The poet may have brought in this image to emphasise the importance of cherishing the present moment and living life to the fullest, as time is fleeting and waits for no one.
The poet employs this effect to underscore the contrast between the exuberant, enthusiastic children and the aged, frail mother who appears pale and asleep. Through this juxtaposition, the mother becomes an emblem of aging and decay, while the children embody the vitality and liveliness of youth. It is possible that the poet is reminded of her mother’s youthful spirit as she observes the children’s ebullience, further highlighting the passage of time and the inevitability of aging.
Question 4. Why has the mother been compared to the ‘late winter’s moon’?
Ans. The mother has been compared to the “late winter’s moon” to create a visual image of her appearance. The moon in late winter is typically pale and wan, and this comparison emphasises the mother’s pallor and frailty. The use of “late winter” also suggests that the mother is in the later stages of her life, as winter is a metaphor for old age. The comparison also creates a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, as the moon is often associated with reflection and introspection. The poet is reflecting on her mother’s ageing and mortality and is trying to come to terms with the inevitable passing of time.
The poet employs a simile, likening the hazy, lackluster appearance of the late winter’s moon to the pallid, shrunken countenance of the sixty-six-year-old mother, which resembles that of a corpse. The simile effectively highlights the mother’s lack of vitality and effervescence, a stark contrast to the energy and enthusiasm of youth. The comparison emphasizes the mother’s advanced age and the toll that time has taken on her physical and emotional well-being. Overall, the simile underscores the theme of the transience of life and the inevitability of aging.
Question 5. What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?
Ans. The parting words of the poet, “see you soon, Amma” and her smile signify her love and affection for her mother, and her attempt to be strong in the face of her mother’s ageing and mortality. The poet is aware that her mother is growing old and frail, and this realisation causes her pain and sadness. However, she puts on a brave face and smiles, as she wants to express her love and affection for her mother and to reassure her that they will see each other soon.
The smile may also signify the poet’s acceptance of the inevitable cycle of life and death. By smiling, she is acknowledging that life is fleeting and that one must cherish the moments they have with their loved ones. The parting words and the smile may be the poet’s way of expressing gratitude for her mother’s presence in her life and the love and support she has received from her.
The poet puts on a facade of a smile and says her parting words to hide her true feelings of insecurity. Her mother’s pale and senile appearance triggers childhood fears of losing her, causing her to experience the pain of separation. Despite this, she bids her farewell in a pleasant manner and reassures her mother that everything will be fine until they meet again.