Standing Up for Yourself
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Summary and answers for all the questions from the lesson ‘Standing Up for Yourself’ included in the CHSE +2 book ‘Invitation to English – 1’.
Yevtushenko was left to fend for himself after his parents divorced before he turned eight. After the divorce, his father remarried whereas his mother moved from being a geologist to a professional singer. It was a matter of time before the young Yevtushenko was exposed to the harsh world outside. To keep himself safe, he had to learn the craft of self-defense.
The author gives an account of his encounter with a guy named Red, a local thug of the Moscow neighborhood. Red, with a couple or more assistants hanging around him always, used to extort money frequently from the young vulnerable boys of Yevtushenko’s age. The author, though afraid of Red like everybody else, summed up courage to confront Red boldly. As a result, he had some ugly brushes with the bully. One such encounter ended rather tragically for the young Yevtushenko, who was bedridden with head injuries. A fierce knuckle duster blow to his head from Red had knocked him out. After he recovered, the young boy became more determined than before to face the intimidation of Red and his gang. He mustered enough courage to show to Red that he was ready to face the bully’s challenge more doggedly than ever. Yevtushenko was determined to cut Red to size. He got a book on ju-jitsu (a form of Japanese martial art), learned the tricks astutely c, practiced it for three weeks with two of his pals. Brimming with confidence, he ventured out to challenge Red for the second time. Red’s ganggang was busy playing vingt-et-un, a card-based game, the author stepped in to throw the challenge at Red. Caught unaware by the young boy’s belligerent stance, Red failed to grab his knuckle-duster quickly. The author delivered a painful jab to Red. This caught Red completely off-guard. His counter attacks proved futile as the young valiant boy grabbed Red’s wrist and skillfully dislodged the knuckle duster from his hand. The fight was soon over and the author emerged victorious. The author turned a hero who not only knew how to write poems but also to fight in his defense.
Think it out – 1
1. Is the narrator a child or an adult narrating his childhood experiences?
Answer – The writer is an adult while he narrates his childhood experiences.
2. Does the narrator have happy experiences in his childhood?
Answer – The narrator did not have a happy childhood. After his parents divorced, he was left to fend for himself. He lived virtually in the streets, and his education was in tatters.
3. What was his relationship with his father?
Answer – He had no contact with his father after his parents were divorced. His father working in far-off Kazakhstan never wrote him a letter.
4. How did his mother spend her time?
Answer – The narrator’s mother, who used to be a geologist, resigned from her job. She became a singer giving concerts for soldiers.
5. What does ‘My education was left to the street’ mean here?
Answer – The statement, “My education was left to the streets’ implies that he had no access to a decent education. Instead, he spent his time in the streets exposed to the coarseness and criminality of street kids. In my opinion the best lesson the street taught him was to overcome his fear of those mightier than him.
Think it out – 2
1. What made Red look older than he really was?
Answer – Scars from daily fights and constant battle with the odds of streets had robbed him of his childlike innocent look. He had big and broad shoulders which made him look so much older than his age of 16.
2. How did he roam in the streets?
Answer – He had two or three younger accomplices who acted as his aides in his criminal assaults on innocent passers-by. They hung around Red and helped him in looting the victims.
3. How did he dress himself?
Answer – Red wore a cap that was swept backwards. His hair in the front fell out of the cap.
4. Did he intentionally dress and walk in the manner described?
Answer – Perhaps, he purposely dressed and walked so menacingly, so that he could instill fear in others.
5. Why did his lieutenants dress and walk in the manner described?
Answer – The lieutenants were his comrades who formed the gang. In order to show their solidarity with Red, they too wore their caps in similar manner.
6. What pet animal comes to your mind when you read the expression ‘tripped at his heels’?
Answer – A dog is the pet that follows its master as loyally as the lieutenants followed Red.
7. What was his way of forcing money out of other boys?
Answer – Red used to accost a pedestrian, utter the word ‘money’. His lieutenants then subdued the victim by force and empty his pocket of any cash.
8. How did he rule the street?
Answer – He resorted to intimidation and force to counter anyone who came in his way. If necessary, he would use his knuckle-duster to do bodily harm to the stranger.
9. Was the narrator afraid of Red? Quote the sentence from the text in support of your answer.
Answer – Yes, initially he was. He said, “Everyone was afraid of Red. So was I.” Later, he overcame his fear through determination.
Think it out – 3
1. What was the first thing the narrator did to overcome his fear of Red?
Answer – In order to overcome his fear of Red, the narrator wrote a poem about him.
2. How did the people in the street respond to the poem?
Answer – The people in the street were thrilled by the poem’s sarcasm.
3. Explain the expression ‘triumphant hatred’.
Answer – By triumphant hatred, it means that the poem had the desired effect of irking Red, the bully everyone disliked. They rejoiced at the annoyance of Red.
4. How did Red sneer at the narrator?
Answer – Red sneered at the narrator saying that he writes the verses & asked if they rhyme.
5. What was the result of his first encounter with Red?
Answer – In his first encounter with Red, the narrator got badly injured as he was struck on his head by Red’s knuckle duster.
6. ‘This was my first remuneration as a poet.’ – was the narrator happy with his reward as a poet?
Answer – No, the narrator says this cynically.
7. What was a more difficult situation for the narrator : to be injured by Red or to overcome his fear of Red when he saw Red after his injury?
Answer – For the narrator, overcoming the fear of Red was more difficult.
8. What was the result of his second encounter with Red?
Answer – In the second encounter, the narrator didn’t even dare to go in front of Red & felt too ashamed because of this.
Think it out – 4
1. How did the narrator train himself to grow stronger?
Answer – In order to be stronger, the narrator trained with parallel bars and weight that made his muscles stronger. He also practiced a Japanese method of wrestling called ju-jitsu from a book. This technique enabled a person to effectively take on another much stronger foe.
2. How did he get a textbook on ju-jitsu?
Answer – The narrator got a textbook on ju-jitsu by forsaking a week’s ration entitlement towards the cost.
3. How long did he train himself before the final encounter with Red?
Answer – Before his final encounter with Red, the narrator trained for three weeks. He practiced the new method with two boys.
4. Where did the final encounter take place? What was Red doing then?
Answer – The final encounter took place in the community yard where the narrator lived. Red was engrossed in playing vingt-et-un with his friends by sitting on the lawn.
5. How did the narrator attack Red?
Answer – The narrator had decided to confront Red frontally. The narrator went up to Red & defiantly kicked and scattered the cards he was playing with.
6. How did Red react to the narrator’s attack?
Answer – Red was surprised by the audacity and belligerence of the narrator. He sprang to his feet to counter the narrator.
7. How did Red suffer at the hands of the narrator?
Answer – The narrator lunged forward and gave Red a hard blow which left him seething in pain.
8. How did Red suffer at the hands of the narrator?
Answer – Clearly, Red found the narrator too skilled and strong to counter. He had to drop his knuckle-duster when the narrator squeezed his wrist.
9. What lesson did the narrator learn during his encounter with a bully like Red?
Answer – During his last encounter with Red, the narrator learned that he need not fear a person way too stronger than him. The stronger adversary can be neutralized by suitable fighting skill.
10. What career did the narrator prepare himself for?
Answer – The narrator prepared himself to be a poet.
11. Which of these do you think is true: courage means not having fear at all or courage means conquering fear? Justify your choice.
Answer – True: Courage means conquering fear. Timidity before a stronger foe only emboldens him. So, the right approach is to take him head on.
ସମସ୍ତ ଅଧ୍ୟାୟର ଉତ୍ତର ଲିଙ୍କ ଏକ ପୃଷ୍ଠାରେ ପାଇବା ପାଇଁ ଏଠାରେ କ୍ଲିକ କରନ୍ତୁ।
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Additional questions for the benefit of the teachers and the ambitious students keen to learn better English.
- What do the phrasal verbs ‘Stand up to’ and ‘Stand up for’ mean? Explain with the help of sentences.
- In this lesson, who is standing up for himself? Why he has to do this?
- Make sentences with the phrasal verbs ‘Stand by’, and ‘Stand out’.
- What tragedy befell Yevtushenko in his early childhood?
- How did his father and mother re-started their lives after their separation?
- Who was Red? Was he a benign character or a tormentor for innocent youngsters like Yevtushenko?
- How did Red earn his living? Who were his accomplices? Was Yevtushenko a target of Red?
- How did Yevtushenko’s first confrontation with Red go?
- What effect the incident have on the boy’s mind?
- What steps did Yevtushenko take to get the better of his tormentor?
- Describe the second encounter between the two stating the trick the author adopted to defeat Red?
- What lesson you learned from this story?
- List the good words and phrases you learnt from this post.
——————————————Answers will be posted soon. ——————–