Once upon a time summary | question answer class 11

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Once upon a time summary by Gabriel okara

The poem "Once Upon a Time" is a very simple but a very practical poem. The poet wants to show the contrast between the people in the past and in the modern time. He notices a marked change in the attitudes of his people - those whom were once so genuine, warm and sincere have now suddenly turned cold and hostile towards him. He wants to show the difference between original and artificial behaviour of the people. The poem is a satire on modern life that is very much artificial. The people are gradually affected by the culture. The poet himself finds behaving in the same way as those around him. He is also influenced by the artificial world and modern time. He begins to lose his previous identity and fallow the western way of living. He feels a great sense of guilt and self-loathing and thinks about how fake he has become losing his identity and donning different, fixed expression for different Occasions, as unnatured smile plastered across his face.

The poet says that people laughed with heart in the past but now they laugh artificially. Life-less smile can be seen now-a-days. People greet one another just for the sake of greeting and not heartily. People invite people but not really welcome. The poet resentfully admits that he, too, makes hollow greetings and started behaving in the same way the people behaved with him. He confesses to his son that he does not like the person he has become. He is not happy with such hypocritic dealings. He wants to change and go back to the way he was before, in his childhood. He beseeches his son, the only person he knows who has not been affected by the new culture, to teach him how to be enthusiastic and happy and live life again. He asks his son to help him go back to who he was, and get back his lost identity. He expresses a desire to unlearn whatever he had forced himself to learn, in order for him to gain his sense of self back. He asks his son to help him be happy once again and acquire the childlike innocence he once possessed as a child. 


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Once upon a time question answer

COMPREHENSION

1. What frightens the poet when he sees his smile in the mirror? What is the poetic device used here?
Ans: As the poet becomes mechanical, so he has learnt mechanical smile. But when he sees his smile in the mirror, his smile, frightens him because his teeth looks like a snake's poison tooth. The poetic device used here is smile.

2. The poem is called Once Upon A Time'? The poet has done this (say whether true "T or false F')
(a) to show that the poem is a fairy tale. 
Ans: False
(ii) to express his nostalgic feelings for the past when people were genuine and honest.
Ans: True
(ii) to show the contrast between the people in the past and in the modern time.
Ans: True
(iv) to highlight the poet's regret at the changing human behaviour. 
Ans: True
(v) to express the poet's admiration for the modern man's ability to hide his true feelings.
Ans: False

3. The poet expresses a desire to learn from his son how to smile as he used to do in the past.
Pick up the line from the poem the expresses this wish. This also shows that the poet (Tick the right answer)
(i) has also changed like those around him.
(ii) is happy with the changes in his personality
(iii) is upset with the changes he observes in himself.
(iv) is not happy with the superficiality that has crept into human relationships.
Ans: (i) has also changed like those around him.
(iii) is upset with the changes he observes in himself.
(iv) is not happy with the superficiality that has crept into human relationships.

REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT

1 …but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow…
(a) Why have the eyes of the modern man been compared to a block of ice?
Ans: The eyes of the modern man have been compared to block ice because they don't shine while laughing. They seem to be lifeless. The eyes do not confirm the laugh.
(b) How does one laugh with the teeth?
Ans: One laugh with the teeth by protecting his teeth to show that is laughing. This indicates artificial and mechanical laugh.
(c) What is the poetic device used here?
Ans: Metaphor is used here.

2. 'Feel at home, ‘Come again’,
they say, and when I come
again feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice...
(a) Who is being asked to come again?
Ans: The poet is being asked to come again.
(b) Where is he being invited to?
Ans: He is being invited to their houses.
(c) What is meant by feel at home'?
Ans: 'Feel at home' means to feel at ease.
(d) What is ironical about this invitation?
Ans: This invitation is mechanical, not hearty.

3. …I want
to unlearn all these muting things...
(a) Who is the T in these lines?
Ans: The poet, who is the speaker is the ‘I’ here.
(b) What are the 'muting' things referred to here?
Ans: Artificial and mechanical behaviours of modern man are the muting things referred to here.
(c) Why does he want to unlearn them?
Ans: He wants to unlearn them because these are artificial in nature. He wants to be what he is. He wants to learn again the behavioural pattern that he used in the past. By living in the artificial and mechanical world he has lost his peace of mind.
(d) Who does he appeal to for help?
Ans: He appeals to his son for help.

EXTRA QUESTIONS& ANSWERS

1. How did people laugh once upon a time, according to the poet?
Ans: According to the poet people laughed with their hearts and eyes once upon a time.

2. How do people laugh now a days? What is the difference of people's laugh in the past and in the present day?
Ans: According to the poet now a days people laugh with their teeth only and search behind other's shadow. But in the past people laughed with heart.

3. How do people make friendship with others at present according to the poet?
Ans: At present people make friendship with others without hearts and try to guess how wealthy one is before making friendship.

4. What are the things that the poet want to unlearn?
Ans: The poet wants to unlearn those muting things which are artificial and mechanical in nature. These are the artificial behavioural patterns of modern man.

5. Why does the poet say, "Glad to meet you" without being glad?
Ans: The poet has taken to the ways and manners of modern man. So he says to a man who he has met “Glad to meet you” though he was not glad at all. This shows the artificial and mechanical behaviour of people. This is a part of modern greeting system.

6. What does the poet want to relearn?
Ans: The poet wants to relearn the behavioural pattern that he used in the past.

7. What does the poet want to be?
Ans: The poet wants to be what he really is. He is unhappy with the double-standard. So he wants to unlearn all hypocritic behaviour and relearn his genuine behaviour.

EXPLAIN WITH REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT

(a) Once upon a time, son.
…………………………………
………………………………….
search behind my shadow.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem Once upon a time composed by Gabriel Okara.

In this stanza, the poet says to his son that he notices a marked change in the attitude of the people those whom were once so genuine. Warm and sincere have now suddenly turned cold and hostile towards him. The poet tells his son that there was a time when people laughed and smiled heartily, but at present they do not do so. They laughed artificially and mechanically. They also looked at the background being uninterested in the man.

(b) There was a time indeed
…………………………………..
………………………………..
my empty pockets.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem 'Once upon a time composed by Gabriel Okara. The title of the poem is itself symbolic. The poet foregrounds the past in the context of the present through the title.

In these lines the poet tells his son that there was a time when people deals with one another heartily but time changes every person because as we grow up and be everywhere we get to meet different people and meeting different kids eventually calls for us to be appropriate in dealing them. People changes with the changing time so those days have gone now. In those days people made friendly terms with others heartily but now a days people make friends outwardly and try to guess how wealthy one is before making friendship.

(c) Feel at home', 'come again’
……………………………..
………………………………..
for then I find the doors shut on me.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem "Once upon a time” composed by Gabriel Okara.

In these lines the poet expresses people's behaviour by saying that people invite others in a very friendly way but their actions do not match with what they say. People invited somebody to come home, but when that man visited them then their reaction seems to be very different. It is like they have shut the doors for that man or for any other guest. They don't receive guests third time.

(d) So, I have learnt many things, son,
…………………………………
…………………………………..
like a fixed portrait smile.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem 'Once upon a time’, compoSed by Gabriel Okara. The poet wants to show the contrast between the people in the past and in the modern time.

Through these lines the poet tells his son that he has learnt the artificial and mechanical behavioural patterns of modern man. He makes his face in different places. He has learnt to smile mechanically without any feelings like the smile of a photograph. The poet tells that he has learnt to deal with this hard, insincere world by becoming just like all the other people.

(e) And I have learned, too,
………………………………..
……………………………..
nice talking to you', after bored.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem ‘Once upon a time’ composed by Gabriel Okara.

Through these lines the poet tells his son that now he too has learned mechanical and artificial smile projecting his teeth and without heart. He has also learnt hypocritical behavioural patterns to greet or to bid someone farewell.

(f) But believe me, son.
…………………………………
……………………………………
Once upon a time when I was like you.
Ans: These lines have been taken from the poem 'Once upon a time’ composed by Gabriel Okara.

Through these lines the poet confesses that he is not happy with all these mechanical behaviour. He confesses to his son that he does not like the person he has become and wants to change, and go back to the way he was before, in his childhood. He wants to forget all these unreal things and learn again how he behaved earlier. He asks his son to help him to go back to who he was, and get back his lost identity. He expresses a desire to unlearn whatever he has forced himself to learn, in order for him to gain his sense of self back. He asks his son to help him be happy once again and acquire the childlike innocence he once possessed as a child.

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