AP State Board Syllabus AP SSC 10th Class English Textbook Solutions Chapter 3B Once Upon a Time Textbook Questions and Answers.
I. Tick (✓) the option that will complete each of the following statements. In some cases more than one option may be possible.
1. In the first five stanzas the poet is talking about
a) the honest and innocent world of children.
b) the insincere world of adults.
c) the difference between the past and the present.
d) the old and the young.
2. The last four lines of the poem suggest
c) a sense of loss.
d) eagerness to learn.
3. The expression ice-cold-block eyes’ means
a) The eyes are wet with tears.
b) expressionless eyes,
c) a state of lack of feelings.
d) a dead man's eyes.
4. 'They' in line 4 of stanza 1 refers to
a) people in the past.
b) present day people.
c) all adults.
d) young children.
5. 'Their ............. eyes search behind my shadow' means
a) they avoid meeting his eyes.
b) they try to look at the darker side of the person.
c) they convey no emotions.
d) they try to see what is not there.
6. The poet has learnt
a) to shake hands.
b) the ways of the world.
c) to laugh.
d) to put on masks.
7. The poet wants to learn from his son because his son
a) is not corrupted by the ways of the world.
b) is more informed.
c) knows about good manners more than his father.
d) is more caring.
II. Answer the following questions in a sentence or two each.
When did people shake hands with their hearts?
The people, in their childhood, when they didn't know the falsehood and hypocrisies of the world, when they were not corrupted by the ways of the world, shook hands with their hearts.
What is the poet crying over? What help does he want from his son?
The poet regrets for losing the traits of his own character such as honesty, modesty, and sincerity. He laments over getting corrupted by the ways of the world. He regrets for his character being influenced by hypocrisy and fallacies of the world. The poet requests his son to help him regain his sincere and heartful, innocent and child-like smile.
"Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake's bare fangs !"
What does the poet mean by these lines?
The poet feels his smile as fictitious, insincere, and hypocritic. He feels such a smile is dangerous. The comparison of his teeth to snake's fangs makes false, mask-like smile seem dangerous.
What is the tone of the poem?
The tone of the poem is roughly equivalent to the mood it creates in the reader. In Once Upon a Time' the tone of the poem in the earlier stanzas is abashed, regretful but in the last stanza the poet ends the poem in an optimistic and hopeful tone. Thus the poet begins the poem in a negative tone i.e. somber but ends positively i.e. opti¬mism.
"Now they shake hands without hearts :
while their left hands search
my empty pockets."
Why do the left hands search empty pockets now? What does this indicate?
The poet expresses his concern for the influence of the western world on age-old African custom. He feels that the once enthusiastic and friendly society of Africa now treated its own people like strangers and looked at each other with suspicion and hostility. The white imperialists always exploited and plundered the wealth of their colonies. So their left hands search the empty pockets of their subjects in an endeavour to rob them further.
The poet uses certain words to express frustration and sorrow. Identify these words.
The phrases "ice-block-cold eyes", "shake hands without hearts", "doors shut on me", "learned to wear many faces", "teeth like a snake's bare fangs" are used to express the poet's regret. The phrases or lines such as "...believe me, son. I want to be what 1 used to be", "unlearn these muting things", "want to relearn how to laugh" are the lines used to express his frustration.
Once upon a time, the people used to laugh with their hearts. There used to be sincerity in their laugh. Their laugh came from their hearts. There was genuinety in their actions and feelings. But people laugh superficially, in present. Their laugh is ficticious, feelingless. The eyes are dead like feelingless, and unsympathetic/apathetical. Even people shake hands mechanically and wish the people artificially but not heartfully.
In the third stanza the poet explains more about the changes the man possesses as he grows in age. He has noticed falsehood, superfluous feelings and deteriorating human relations in present day society. The poet also says that the people lie when they say the positive phrases like "Feel at home" and "Come again." When the poet visits their house for the third time thinking that their words are genuine, the doors are shut on his face. In this material and artificial world the poet has learnt many things especially wearing many faces, like putting on many dresses. That means he changes his expressions and feelings to suit the situations and needs of the people with whom he is to deal with.
In behaving like that he loses his own character and traits of his self. As this is the way of the world the poet has also learnt to laugh with teeth but not with heart. He also has learnt to shake the hands of others but not with heart. He has learnt to say 'Goodnight' when he means Good riddance'. He has learnt to say Glad to meet you,' when he is not glad and he says, 'It's nice talking to you' when he is bored of talking.
But the writer is fed up with the forcible hypocrisy and pretension of falsehood. He wants to regain his real spirit and character. He wants to abandon all this falsehood. He wants to laugh sincerely as the children do. His laugh reveals all the fallacies of the world. When he looks at himself in the mirror his teeth are exposed and they appear like the fangs of a snake.
In the last stanza the poet appeals to his son to show him how to smile whole-heartedly. The poet’s desire to regain his original traits of his character, sincerity and to give up his falsehood and hypocrisy reveals his yearning for the innocence, faithfulness and sincerity.
Once Upon a Time Glossary
cock-tail (n) : a drink usually made from a mixture of one or more alcoholic drinks
conform (v) : to be and thinking the same way as most other people in a group or society; normally acceptable
portrait (n) : a painting, drawing or photograph of a person especially of the head and shoulders
good-riddance (n) : a feeling of relief when an unwanted person leaves
muting (adj) : changing all the time; expressionless/not expressed in speech
fangs (n) : long, sharp teeth of some animals like snakes and dogs