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Chapter 9- My Mother at Sixty-six Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 :
What do you think is the pain and the ache that the poet feels?
 

Answer 1 :

The poet was driving back from her parent’s home to Cochin, and she gazed at her mother, sleeping, beside her. The poet felt agonized at the thought of her mother growing old. The realisation that her mother was inching towards death made the poet sad as she was plagued by the thought of losing her.

Question 2 :
Why are the young trees described as ‘sprinting’?

Answer 2 :

The poet, in order to distract her mind from the painful sight, looks out of the window. The trees outside her car window rushed past her as she drove ahead. On looking out from a moving vehicle, stationary objects seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Kamala Das compared the trees to young children, with boundless energy running past her window. She uses the poetic device of personification to achieve this comparison.

Question 3 :
Why has the poet used the image of the merry children “spilling out of their homes”?

Answer 3 :

The poet saw the children rushing out of their homes. The children were young and full of life, a sad contrast to her aged mother. They represented joyousness and vitality, a contrast to the ashen visage of the poet’s ageing mother. The image of the children lends a contrast to her mood.

Question 4 :
Why has the mother been compared to the “late winter’s moon”?

Answer 4 :

The ashen and pale visage of her mother led the poet to compare her mother with that of a late winter’s moon. The winter moon that had lost its luminosity and was waning is used as a simile to compare the mother’s old and pale countenance.

Question 5 :
What do the parting words of the poet and her smile signify?

Answer 5 :

The parting words of the poet and her smile signify her pain and fear of losing her mother. She tried to put on a brave front by hiding her fear behind a smile. She tried to hide her fear from her mother as she called out, “See you soon, Amma.” The smile also might mean a forced optimism which allowed her to believe that her mother might yet live for a long time

Question 6 :
What are the words that convey the poet’s agony?

Answer 6 :

Looking at her mother, drained of colour, the poet realizes that her mother had grown old and weak and had come to the end of her life. The words “familiar ache” universalizes the emotion. She talks of her mother’s frailty by comparing her to a “corpse”. She desired to dispel the pain by looking out of the car window. In the end, she was unable to speak; she could only smile.

Question 7 :
Explain the contrasting situations in the poem? Why does the poet do so?

Answer 7 :

The poem throws up various contrasts to drive home the idea and fear of the mother inching close to death. First, the mother’s lifelessness in the car is contrasted to the activity outside—the trees running, the children spilling out and the airport buzzing with activity. It contrasts with the sadness and pain in the car with the euphoric mood outside. The poet uses the contrast to highlight the dissimilarity of both the situations.

Question 8 :
The mood and setting in the poem comes a full cycle. Explain.

Answer 8 :

The poet begins with a concern and grief of the mother’s lifelessness in the car. The poet then describes the energy and jubilation outside. Once again, the mood recoils into sadness and worry, at the end of the poem, when the poet talks of her mother being pale like a late winter’s moon.

Question 9 :
The poem deals with the subtleties of human relationships. Justify.

Answer 9 :

The poem, “My Mother at Sixty-six” revolves around the theme of advancing age and the consequent fear of loss and separation. As the poet was on the way to airport in Cochin, she was struck by the realization that her mother was old and frail, and was overwhelmed by the fear of her parent’s impending death. She observed her mother, in her twilight years, pale and waning like the winter moon.

Like any other child, she too remembered having harboured the insecurity of losing a parent that seemed to be presently unfolding in her life. Beset with sorrow and insecurity, at the end of the poem, she bid goodbye to her aged mother at the airport. The poet undergoes the universal emotions of grief and fear of losing a parent to old age and death. Kamala Das’ eloquent and poignant verse brings out the motif of transience and passing time.


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Chapter 9- My Mother at Sixty-six Contributors

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