My Mother at Sixty Six - Important Questions

1.      Why does the poet look outside? What activities does the poet see outside the car window? What does she perceive?
2.      Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’?
3.      Why has the poet brought in the image of the merry children ‘spilling out of their homes’?
4.      Why has the mother been compared to the ‘late winter’s moon’?
Explain "wan, pale as a late winter's moon".
5.      What childhood fears do you think the poet is referring to in the poem?
What were Kamala Das’s fears as a child? Why do they surface when she is going to the airport?
6.      What 'familiar ache' did the poet feel?
What is the poet’s familiar ache and why does it return?
What is the kind of pain and ache that the poet feels?
7.      How does Kamala Das try to put away the thoughts of her ageing mother?
8.      How does the poet describes the old age of her mother?
What does the poet’s mother look like? What kind of images has the poet used to signify her ageing decay?
9.      What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?
What does the poet mean by ‘all I did was smile and smile and smile…’?
Why does the poet smile and what does she say while bidding goodbye to her mother?
Why did the poet say “see you soon Amma”? What does the poet actually mean by „smile and smile and smile….? What kind of smile is it?
What does Kamala Das do after the security check up? What does she notice?
What were the poet’s feelings at the airport? How did she hide them?
10.    The poet compares her mother to many things. Pick out two similes which reinforce this comparison.
11.    What image does the poet use to describe death in the poem?
12.    Discuss mother- daughter relationship as described in the poem.
13.    “My Mother at sixty six” is an emotional account of the poet about her old mother. Discuss.
14.    What poetic devices has the poet used in ‘My Mother at Sixty-six’?
Cite an example of one device of contrast that the poet uses in the poem.

Reference to Context Questions.

I looked again at her, wan, pale
as a late winter’s moon and felt that
old familiar ache, my childhood’s fear,
but all I said was see you soon, Amma,
all I did was smile and smile and smile .....

(a)     Who looked wan and pale? Why?
(b)     What kind of pain/ ache does the poetess feel?
Explain, “that old familiar ache.”
(c)     What was the poet’s childhood fear?
(d)     What is the poetic device used in these lines?
Which figure of speech is used in the second line?
What is the comparison in the stanza?
(e)     Why did the poet smile and smile?
(f)      What do the poet’s parting words suggest?
Why did the poet say ‘see you soon, Amma’?
What is the significance of the parting words?
How does she comfort/console her mother?
(g)     “Smile and smile and smile’ is a poetic device. Identify it.

but soon
put that thought away and
looked out at young
trees sprinting, the merry children spilling
out of their homes

(a)     Name the poem and the poet.
(b)     What thought did the poet drive away from her mind?
(c)     What did she see when she looked out of the car?
(d)     How do you know that the joyful scene didn’t help her drive away the painful thought from her mind?
(e)     What are “the merry children spilling out of their homes”, symbolic of?
(f)      Why does the poet make use of the images of ‘young trees sprinting’ and ‘merry children spilling’?
(g)     What do young sprinting trees signify?
(h)    Why are the trees described as sprinting?
(i)      What did the poet realise? How did she feel?
(j)      Find words from the passage which mean
i)   Running fast
ii)  Happy

Driving from my parent’s
home to Cochin last Friday
morning, I saw my mother, beside me,
doze, open mouthed, her face ashen like that
of a corpse and realised with pain
that she was as old as she looked

(a)     What did the poet notice about her mother?
(b)     Why was the realisation painful?
(c)     Where was the poet driving to? Who was sitting beside her?
(d)     Why did her mother’s face look like that of a corpse?
(e)     Find words from the passage which mean
i)   Sleep lightly
ii)  Dead body

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