by Gopa Ranjan Mishra
Answers for all the questions from the poetry ‘Fishing’ included in the CHSE +2 book ‘Invitation to English – 1’
Think it out
1. What idea of the speaker’s age do you guess from the opening lines?
Answer – The opening lines imply that he is married and has a full fledged family. He also brags humorously about being as skilled as an experienced angler. The style of communication, humour and the overall context of the poem make me think that he is likely in the late 30s or early 40s.
2. How did the speaker prepare himself for fishing? (clue: gear and attitude)
Answer – The speaker braced up for the imminent fishing session with his usual fishing gear that comprised of fishing rod and line, net, creel and waders. He was brimming with confidence in the lead up to his task and had assured everybody that he wouldn’t return empty handed. The import of his assertion was marked by impudence.
3. What did he declare to his family? What silent response did he sense from the members of the family?
Answer – The speaker, asserting confidence in his abilities, reassured his family that he would return with fish. His talking inspired confidence among them and they were eager for the delicious fried fish in their dinner plates. Some of them treated his statement with derision as they felt his confidence to be mis-placed.
4. Describe his initial experience while fishing. (lns. 9 -12)
Answer – The speaker was determined to return with a good catch and hastily made it to his fishing spot. He had all the necessary arrangements at his disposal but luck didn’t appear to be on his side. His elaborate preparation for the fishing trip proved to be a futile one, as he returned empty-handed.
5. What did he dread to face when he would be back at home? (ln s. 13 – 15)
Answer – He was aware that he had set high expectations in his family members through his promise. He understood that those who doubted his skills would be proven correct if he returned bare handed. He was wary of being ridiculed by those who had cast doubts on his success at the start of the expedition.
6. How was his prayer answered?
Answer – Just as he was about to give in to his failure, a fish happened to fall for his bait by some stroke of luck. The speaker’s eyes lit up at that moment as he smelled victory at last. He was over the moon as his wait was finally over.
7. Discuss the contrasting moods presented in stanzas 3 and 4, and 5.
Answer – The three stanzas meticulously express the roller coaster of emotions that the speaker went through on the day of his fishing. Stanza 3 starts off with the speaker enthusiastically setting out on his sweet fishing journey. It doesn’t take long, however, for him to realize the difficulty of catching a fish. Hours go by with him getting his hands on one. Stanza 4 is where the fear of failure and mockery begin clutching him as he slowly runs out of time. His desperation gets the better of him and the prayers to the God in hopes of a miracle. The succeeding stanza depicts his success as he finally gets the catch he had so badly longed for. He feels relieved at last with the knowledge that his efforts had not gone in vain.
8. Describe the ‘catch’.
Answer – The catch is described immaculately in the poem. As the float’s stasis was disturbed, it began moving up and down vigorously. The speaker realized that the opportune time had arrived. Without delaying much, he pulled the string at once, revealing the fine catch in all its glory. He was astounded by the magnificent one-foot fish that song lustrously. The fish, however, struggled to breathe having been lifted out of its habitat.
9. How has the speaker described his joy and the despair of the fish?
Answer – The speaker was overjoyed at his personal triumph. It was an overly emotional moment for him as his persistence had finally begot him success. The fish, on the other hand, was in unspeakable agony having its mouth stuck in the hook. Out of water, it was gasping for air as well. The desperation in the eyes of the fish caught the speaker’s attention. He could read the pain in the mute’s eyes and resonate with its torment.
10. What did he think the fish was pleading for?
Answer – It appeared to the speaker as if the fish solicited his kindness through its oddly expressive eyes. He felt as if it begged him to be set free. He could sense its yearning for the lively touch of his loving home.
11. What was the debate in the speaker’s mind?
Answer – The speaker pondered over his course of action after catching the fish. On one hand, if he let it go, his labourous effort of three hours would go waste. He wouldn’t get to taste the palatable flavour of fried fish. On top of that, he’d have to be the object of mockery in front of his kinsmen. On the other hand, the compassion rooted deep inside him was constantly proddng him towards the act of kindness.
12. Discuss the significance of : ‘For nothing, however, I did care.’ (ln. 34)
Answer – The speaker would risk losing his time, effort and respect by letting the fish free. For somebody who had walked out with a hint of belligerence, the prospect of returning home barehanded wearing a defeated look looked scary. At the point of his contemplation, as he was weighing the outcomes of his choice to free the fish, his conscience supplanted his fear and he thought to himself, ‘For nothing, however, I did care.’
13. What was the strange feeling that the speaker felt? Can you relate the feeling to the ‘crimson glow’ and ‘greater joy’? (lns. 36-38)
Answer – The speaker experienced an inexplicable sensation of pure bliss. ‘Crimson glow’ refers to the sublime deep reddish colour that emanates from the setting sun. Everybody likes witnessing sunsets as we humans are programmed to have joy evoked within us from such natural phenomenon. ‘Greater joy’ is the divine feeling that succeeded the strange sensation in the speaker. The thought of the generous act propelled his soul high and at that stage, as his spirit was uplifted, he experienced divine pleasure in that scenic sunset as he committed to it.
14. Which action brought about a greater joy in the heart of the speaker? In comparison to the ultimate greater joy, what do you think would have been a lesser one?
Answer – The compassionate act of sparing an innocent life brought about a greater joy in the heart of the speaker. It can be rightfully said that it wasn’t his only way of attaining joy. Had he gone about his plan and fried the fish, he’d have a satisfactory dinner and the admiration of his family. But that joy would be of a lesser degree as it wouldn’t carry any higher value than reaping the fruits of his efforts.
15. Why does he find this feeling strange?
Answer – Clearly, the feeling is not an usual one. The speaker was in a position where his decision could be the difference between life and death for somebody. Humans who see life in every creature and abhor killing living being are extremely rare to find. So, his sympathy for the fish was rare.
16. Do you think the speaker was sensitive? Why do you think so? (Clue: at least two reasons)
Answer – The speaker was definitely sensitive. The emotions of the fish struck a chord in him when most of us seldom see a fish as no better than an item of food. That was the first indication of his sensitivity. The second one, obviously, was him acting on his instincts and letting the fish free.
17. Notice that all the stanzas excluding Stanza 7 have four lines each. How is Stanza 7 different from other stanzas?
Answer – The seventh stanza is where the speaker connected with the feelings of the fish. That is where the fish, a mute creature to humans, transmitted its pain in the form of human language to him. As the stanza redirects the author’s selfish outlook to a sublime one, it is distinctly different from the rest.
18. Describe the change of mind that the speaker had between the afternoon and the evening of the same day.
Answer – In the afternoon, worries of his failure in catching a fish had made the speaker anxious. He then had an intense desire to have a kill and return home at the earliest. But the evening saw a stark difference as he freed himself of the burden of taking a life, and chose to embrace embarrassment at the hands of his kinsmen instead. He didn’t have a grain of regret over his choice.