Q. Read one of the stanzas given below and answer the questions that follow: (2015/2017/2019)
(a) The cardboard shows me how it was
When the two girl cousins went paddling
Each one holding one of my mother’s hands
And she the big girl-some twelve years or so
(i) What does cardboard show the poet? (1mark)
-> The Cardboard shows the poet, the photograph of her mother, along with her two girl cousins.
(ii)How did the girls go to the sea beach? (1mark)
-> The girl went to the sea beach paddling.
(iii)Why did the two girl cousins hold one of the poet’s mother’s hands? How old was the poet’s mother? (1+1=2)
-> The two girl cousins hold one of the poet’s mother’s hands because she was the eldest one among them. The poet’s mother was twelve years old.
(iv)Who clicked the three girls in the cardboard? (1mark)
-> The poet’s mother’s Uncle clicked the photograph.
Q. Why would the poet’s mother laugh at the snapshot? (2marks) (2015/2016/2017)
-> The poet’s mother laughed to see the snapshot because she feels amused to look at her childhood joys in that photograph. She recalls those memories back. This indicates her happy childhood full of carefree enjoyment and lots of smiles.
Q. The three stanzas of the poem ‘A photograph’ depict three different phases. What are they? (3marks) (2018)
-> Shirley Toulson’s ‘A Photograph’ describes three phases in time.
In the first phase, the poet’s mother is described as a twelve year old girl with a sweet and innocent smile. She is standing on the beach enjoying a holiday with her two cousins – Dolly and Betty. This was the phase before the poet’s birth.
In the second phase, the poet’s mother’s middle age is described, where she is laughing at her own snapshot. Perhaps the girls were looking quite funny in the beach clothes.
The third phase describes the poet’s feelings for her mother, who died many years ago. This is the current phase. The photograph revives nostalgic feelings in her and it leads to a deeper silence.
Q. Briefly evaluate the poet’s attitude towards life as seen in the last stanza of the poem, ‘A Photograph’. (3marks) (2019)
-> The period of nearly twelve years since the poetess’s mother passed away has been painful for the poet. She cannot hear her laughter anymore. There is only silence now and the poet has to bear her loss in silence, the mother of the poetess. The period after the death of the mother, the loss and grief of the poetess; life has dull and eventless after the mother’s death. The void created by her death is slowly becoming less painful. Time which passes silently but steadily weakens old memories of loss and grief.