Indian Children Speak – Questions and Answers – CHSE Odisha +2 Alternative English

Indian Children Speak

by Juanita Bell

Questions and Answers for the Poem included in the CHSE +2 Alternative English book ‘Approaches to English – II’.

Click here to download the PDFs of Approaches to English I & II free of cost.

Questions for Discussion

1. When you read the poem, you come across such names as Pansy, Delores Ramon and Joe Henry. How can you describe them together?
Answer – They are children of Red Indian descent.

2. Throughout the poem ‘people said’ has been repeated. Who are these people?
Answer – ‘People said’ broadly denotes the opinion of the white Americans, who look down upon the Red Indians. The whites are from Europe, who have displaced the Red Indians, and, now, lord over them.

3. What does “Moon-coloured dress” refer to?
Answer – ‘Moon-coloured dress” means a dress with light bright yellow colour.

4. Are the Indian children really dumb? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer – Far from it. The Red Indian children are neither dumb, nor dull. They are intelligent, sensitive, imaginative, creative, and quick-witted.

5. Who do you think are rude – the white people or the Indians? Why do you think so?
Answer – Undoubtedly, the whites are rude. They are snobbish, arrogant, and proud. They fail to see the talent, intelligence, humaneness of the fellow Red Indians. They unabashedly mock the Red Indian children for their perceived intellectual inferiority. Such notion is totally wrong.

6. What is the speaker’s attitude towards the Indian children?
Answer – The speaker sees the Red Indian children as no less gifted than their white counterparts. He describes the Red Indians with sympathy and understanding.

7. How many voices do you fear in this poem? Whose are they?
Answer – Possibly, a coterie of six different people have gathered to pour their scorn on the Red Indian children, describing them as inferior humans.

8. The poem begins with “People said.” But towards the end of the poem, the speaker says – “I have forgotten the idle words that people said.” Does this suggest a transition of mood and attitude in the speaker? Explain.
Answer – No, from the beginning to the end, the author expresses her disapproval about the way the white people look at the Red Indian children with a prejudiced eye. She has got used to such unjustified criticism.

9. What does the speaker convey in the last three lines of the poem?
Answer – The poet is tired of the stereotyping of the Red Indian children as intellectually dumb, and incapable of higher levels of thought. She metaphorically alludes to the time, when the Red Indians were given equal citizenship rights and the liberal white intelligentsia could come out and mingle freely with them.

10. Do you think the Indian children’s view of the world is different from that of the white people’s? How so?
Answer – The Red Indian children are far more in sync with Nature than their white counterparts. They are very attached to their dead parents and ancestors, unlike the white immigrants. In the Sun, moon and the trees, they discover the benevolence of God quite spontaneously.

11. Is the speaker in the poem an American, Indian or a white American? How do you know?
Answer – She is possibly a Red Indian intellectual who had been incarcerated by the white settlers. This is apparent from the last two lines of the poem where mention has been made of iron doors being swung wide and she slipping into the Indian land.


1. The speaker in the poem is not one of the ‘Indian Children’. Why then does the poem bear the title ‘Indian Children Speak’? Examine the appropriateness of the title of the poem.
Answer – Her heart overflows with empathy for the Red Indian children who suffer indignity and humiliation because of their race. In a very quiet way, the speaker rails against the discriminatory attitude of the white settlers towards the natives. The latter are perceived to be morons, with little ability to socialize, interact, learn, or comprehend things. Such notion is, clearly, borne out of a sense of racial superiority and arrogance. Obviously, the idea of one race being more gifted than another is unscientific, and morally reprehensible.

The speaker has tried to turn the table on the white supremacists through subtle examples of Red Indian children showing exemplary intelligence, creativity, and compassion. She has succeeded in her effort quite convincingly. The most remarkable thing is she has not confronted the racists using abrasive language or belligerent behavior. Instead, she has used specific instances to show how a Red Indian child outperforms a white one, intellectually.

In view of this strategy, the title, ‘Indian Children Speak’ looks very appropriate.

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