Q. Briefly explain the following lines:
“I have learnt to wear many faces like dresses ___” (2marks) (2015/2017)
-> These lines have been quoted from Gabriel Okara’s poem “once upon a time”
Here the person deals with the artificial and mechanical behavior of modern man.
Here the poet tells his son about the artificial world of modern man. He has lost his previous identity. He changes the expressions of his face and becomes Hippocratic. He has learnt to smile mechanically. His face has got numerous expressions according to place and person. Here the poet has a drawn smile. While comparing facial expression with that of the changing dresses.
Q. What difference do we see in their laugh between then and now? (2marks) (2015)
-> According to the poet now a day’s people laugh with their teeth only and search behind others' shadow. But in the past people laughed with heart.
Q. So I have learnt many things son,
I have learned to wear many faces
Like dresses – home face,
Office face, street face, host face
Cocktail face, with all their conforming smiles
Like a fixed portrait smile. (2016)
a) From which poem are the above lines taken? (1mark)
-> The above lines are taken from the poem “Once upon a time”.
b) What does ‘cocktail face’ mean? (1mark)
-> “Cocktail face” means a face which we show to the people or a face with a mask.
What does ‘wear many faces like dresses’ mean? (1mark)
-> “Wearing many faces like dresses’ means changing faces in different places along with different persons. Those faces act as a mask behind the real face.
c) Why has the poet learnt to wear many faces? (3mark)
-> The poet has learned to wear many faces because of the changing behavioral pattern of the people. Those different faces are the mask behind the real faces. So he wears those faces to hide his originality and to cope up with people from different strata.
Q. How do people laugh nowadays? (3marks) (2016)
-> Nowadays people laugh with their teeth only and search behind other’s shadow. But in the past people laughed with heart.
Q. What is the difference between how people laughed once upon a time and now? (2marks) (2017)
-> Once upon a time people laughed with their hearts but nowadays people laugh only with their teeth. In the past people had affection for one another which cannot be found nowadays.
Q. Bring out the central idea of the poem ‘Once Upon a Time’. (5marks) (2015)
-> The poem “once Upon a time” is a very simple but a very practical poem. The poet wants to show the contrast between the people in the past and in the modern time. He notices a marked change in the attitudes of his people – those who were once so genuine, warm and sincere have now suddenly turned cold and hostile towards him. He wants to show the difference between original and artificial behavior of the people. The poem is a satire on modern life that is very much artificial. The people are gradually affected by the culture. The poet himself finds behaving in the same way as those around him. He is also influenced by the artificial world and modern time. He begins to lose his previous identity and follow the western way of living. He feels a great sense of guilt and self-loathing and thinks about how fake he has become, losing his identity and donning different, fixed expressions for different occasions, as an unnatural smile plastered across his face.
The poet says that people laughed with heart in the past but now they laugh artificially. Life-less smile can be seen nowadays. People greet one another just for the sake of greeting and not heartily. People invite people but not really welcome. The poet resentfully admits that he, too, makes hollow greetings and started behaving in the same way the people behaved with him. He confesses to his son that he does not like the person he has become. He is not happy with such Hippocratic dealings. He wants to change and go back to the way he was before, in his childhood. He beseeches his son, the only person he knows who has not been affected by the new culture, to teach him how to be enthusiastic and happy and live life again. He asked his son to help him go back to who he was, and get back his lost identity. He expresses a desire to unlearn whatever he had forced himself to learn, in order for him to gain his sense of self back. He asks his son to help him be happy once again and acquire the childlike innocence he once possessed as a child.
Q. State the differences Gabriel Okara brings out between the way people used to greet each other in the past and now. (5marks) (2017)
-> Once upon a time is a beautiful poem showing the contrasting behaviors we see and find in people of modern day.
The poet Gabriel Okara says that nowadays people are cold and hostile but earlier the same people were so genuine, warm and sincere to one another. He feels a great sense of guilt and self hatred to see and experience peoples cold greetings in modern lives. He says now a day’s people greet one another only for sake of greeting not for love or affection. The people are similar from their hearts but today people laugh only through their teeth, not genuinely.
Q. Describe in your own words some of the faces that a modern man wears as described by Gabriel Okara in “Once Upon a Time”. (5marks) (2018)
-> Nowadays people laugh with their teeth only and search behind other’s shadow. At present people make friendship with others without hearth and try to guess how wealthy one is before making friendship.