English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Flamingo Chapter 3 Deep Water Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context


Phrase Meaning
Treacherous Dangerous, Unpredictable
Misadventure Accident, Bad luck
Subdued my pride Reduced or lowered self-respect
Bob to the surface like a cork Float quickly to the surface like a cork
Flailed at the surface Strike repeatedly at the surface
Curtain of life fell Life ended
Fishing for landlocked salmon Catching salmon fish in a lake not connected to sea
Back and forth across the pool One end to opposite end of the pool


It had happened when I was ten or eleven years old. I had decided to learn to swim. There was a pool at the Y.M.C.A. in Yakima that offered exactly the opportunity.


Word Meaning
YMCA Young Men’s Christian Association


The writer talks about of the time when his age was ten or eleven. He wanted to learn swimming. There was a swimming pool in Yakima town. The pool belonged to YMCA. This pool was ideal for learning swimming.

The Yakima River was treacherous. Mother continually warned against it, and kept fresh in my mind the details of each drowning in the river.


Word Meaning
Treacherous Dangerous, Unpredictable
Continually Regularly


The Yakima river was dangerous and unpredictable. His mother had warned the writer not to go into the river. She used to regularly tell him about every case of death due to drowning in the river. She had told him so many times that each incident was always fresh in his mind.

But the Y.M.C.A. pool was safe. It was only two or three feet deep at the shallow end; and while it was nine feet deep at the other, the drop was gradual.

The YMCA pool was safe. The pool was three feet deep at one end and nine feet deep at the opposite end. The increase in depth was gradual. The slope at the bottom of the pool was gradual.



I got a pair of water wings and went to the pool. I hated to walk naked into it and show my skinny legs. But I subdued my pride and did it.


Word Meaning
Water wings Airbags worn to keep a swimmer afloat
Skinny Thin
Subdued Lowered
Pride Self respect


Writer (Douglas) purchased new water wings. He did not like to walk in his swimming costume. Because it showed his thin legs. He lowered (comprised) his self-respect. Wore his swimming costume and went to the pool.



From the beginning, however, I had an aversion to the water when I was in it. This started when I was three or four years old and father took me to the beach in California.


Word Meaning
Aversion Dislike, Hatred


Douglas had a dislike or hatred towards water whenever he went into water. This dislike had started when he was about of three years’ age. That time his father had taken him to a sea beach in California.

He and I stood together in the surf. I hung on to him, yet the waves knocked me down and swept over me. I was buried in water.


Word Meaning
Surf Waves of sea
Hung on Held tightly, Gripped
Knocked down Threw down,
Buried Submerged


Douglas and his father stood in the waves. He was tightly holding his father. But a wave threw him down. The wave went over him. He was completely submerged in water.



My breath was gone. I was frightened. Father laughed, but there was terror in my heart at the overpowering force of the waves.


Word Meaning
Overpowering Powerful to overcome


Douglas could not breathe. He was afraid. His father laughed at him. But Douglas was very much afraid. The wave was very powerful. Douglas was overcome by the force of wave.

My introduction to the Y.M.CA. swimming pool revived unpleasant memories and stirred childish fears. But in a little while I gathered confidence.


Word Meaning
Revived Refreshed
Stirred Revived, Rekindled,
In a little while In short period of time, Very soon


When Douglas went to YMCA swimming pool, he remembered his previous bad experience. (of getting knocked down by a powerful wave) . His fears of childhood came back to him. But very soon he became confident.

I paddled with my new water wings, watching the other boys and trying to learn by aping them. I did this two or three times on different days and was just beginning to feel at ease in the water when the misadventure happened.


Word Meaning
Paddled Swam
Aping Copying
Feel at ease Confident, Comfortable
Misadventure Accident


Douglas used his water wings to swim in the pool. He was watching other boys and tried to learn by copying them. He swam with his water wings two-three times on different days. He had started gaining confidence. Just at that time an accident occurred.



I went to the pool when no one else was there. The place was quiet. The water was still, and the tiled bottom was as white and clean as a bathtub. I was timid about going in alone, so I sat on the side of the pool to wait for others.


Word Meaning
Timid Afraid, Scared


One day when Douglas reached swimming pool, no one else was there. The place was calm. There was no movement of water. The pool was very clean. He could clearly see white tiles at bottom of the pool. Douglas was scared to go into the pool alone. So he decided to wait for others to come. He sat at the side of the pool.

I had not been there long when in came a big bruiser of a boy, probably eighteen years old. He had thick hair on his chest.


Word Meaning
Bruiser Strong and aggressive person


Douglas had not spent much time sitting at the side of the swimming pool. Then a big, strong and aggressive boy came. His age was about 18 years. He had lot of hair on his chest.

He was a beautiful physical specimen, with legs and arms that showed rippling muscles. He yelled, “Hi, Skinny! How’d you like to be ducked?”


Word Meaning
Rippling Well built, Strong
Skinny Thin
Yelled Shouted
Ducked Pushed under or into water


The boy had very good physique. His arms and legs were well built, very strong. He shouted at Douglas. Hey thin boy, would like to be pushed into water?



With that he picked me up and tossed me into the deep end. I landed in a sitting position, swallowed water, and went at once to the bottom. I was frightened, but not yet frightened out of my wits.


Word Meaning
Wits Intelligence, Inventive thoughts
Out of my wits Not able to think


The boy picked up Douglas and threw him into the pool at deep end. Douglas landed in sitting position. Water went into his mouth. He immediately went to the bottom of the pool. He was frightened but still he could think.

On the way down I planned: When my feet hit the bottom, I would make a big jump, come to the surface, lie flat on it, and paddle to the edge of the pool.

While Douglas was going down in the water, he made his plan for escape. He planned that when his feet touch bottom of the pool, he would try to make a jump to come to surface of water. He would lie flat on surface of water and swim towards edge of the pool. [His plan is a bit ambitious. Coming to the surface of water is fine. But he does not know swimming. How can he lie flat? How can he swim to the edge?]

It seemed a long way down. Those nine feet were more like ninety, and before I touched bottom my lungs were ready to burst.


Word Meaning
Long way Very far


Douglas felt that his downward journey to bottom of the pool was taking long time. The nine feet distance seemed to be ninety feet. Before he reached bottom of the pool his lungs were full of air. Douglas felt his lungs could burst anytime.



But when my feet hit bottom I summoned all my strength and made what I thought was a great spring upwards. I imagined I would bob to the surface like a cork.


Word Meaning
Hit bottom Touched bottom
Summoned Gathered
Spring Jump
Bob to the surface like a cork Float quickly to the surface like a cork


At last feet of Douglas touched bottom of the pool. He gathered all his power and made a jump. He thought it was a powerful jump. He expected to quickly come to surface like a cork does.

Instead, I came up slowly. I opened my eyes and saw nothing but water — water that had a dirty yellow tinge to it. I grew panicky. I reached up as if to grab a rope and my hands clutched only at water.


Word Meaning
Tinge Light shade of colour
Panicky Frightened
Grab To catch
Clutch To hold, To catch


But Douglas came up very slowly. Midway he opened his eyes. He could see only water. The water had a light shade of yellow colour. [Small amount of Chlorine gas is mixed in water of swimming pool for disinfecting water. It gives yellow tinge to water.] He was frightened. When he reached at the surface he tried to catch something. But his hands could only catch water.

I was suffocating. I tried to yell but no sound came out. Then my eyes and nose came out of the water — but not my mouth.


Word Meaning
Suffocate Not able to breathe


Douglas was not able to breathe. He tried to shout but no sound came from his mouth. His eyes and nose came out of water. But his mouth remained in water.



I flailed at the surface of the water, swallowed and choked. I tried to bring my legs up, but they hung as dead weights, paralysed and rigid.


Word Meaning
Flailed Repeatedly moved hand and legs
Chocked Suffocated
Dead Weight Heavy, Not moving


Douglas repeatedly moved his hands and legs at the surface of water. He swallowed water and felt suffocated. He tried to move up his legs. But he could not. He felt his legs had become heavy and rigid. They felt very heavy.

A great force was pulling me under. I screamed, but only the water heard me. I had started on the long journey back to the bottom of the pool.


Word Meaning
Screamed Shouted


A big force started pulling Douglas down the water. He shouted. But there was nobody to hear his voice. [This is meaning of ‘only water heard me’.] He once again started going down the pool. The journey to bottom of pool seemed very long.

I struck at the water as I went down, expending my strength as one in a nightmare fights an irresistible force.


Word Meaning
Expending Spending, Wasting, Utilising
Nightmare Horror, Very bad experience
Irresistible That cannot be opposed or overcome


While going down Douglas struck at the water. Spending his strength against a horror that could not be overcome.

I had lost all my breath. My lungs ached, my head throbbed. I was getting dizzy. But I remembered the strategy — I would spring from the bottom of the pool and come like a cork to the surface.


Word Meaning
Throbbed Feel pain in series of beats
Dizzy Feeling of spinning around, To faint
Strategy Plan


Douglas was not able to breathe. His lungs were paining. He was feeling series of pain in his head. His head was spinning. He was getting faint. But he remembered his plan. He would jump from bottom of the pool and quickly come to the surface of water.

I would lie flat on the water, strike out with my arms, and thrash with my legs. Then I would get to the edge of the pool and be safe.


Word Meaning
Strike out Move to make a cross
Thrash Beat


Douglas would lie flat on surface of water. He will move his hands to make cross. He will move his legs to beat water. This way he had planned to reach edge of the pool and be safe.

I went down, down, endlessly. I opened my eyes. Nothing but water with a yellow glow — dark water that one could not see through.

Douglas went down the water. There seemed to be no end to the journey. He could see only water of yellow tinge. He could not see through water so he says it was dark water.

And then sheer, stark terror seized me, terror that knows no understanding, terror that knows no control, terror that no one can understand who has not experienced it.


Word Meaning
Sheer Complete, Perfect
Stark Clear cut, Sharp
Terror Horror, Fear
Seized Captured, Overcame


Then Douglas was completely in the grip of sharp terror. A terror no one can understand. A terror that cannot be controlled. No one can understand this terror if he has not experienced it himself. (Douglas wants to say that he was totally frightened )

I was shrieking under water. I was paralysed under water — stiff, rigid with fear. Even the screams in my throat were frozen. Only my heart, and the pounding in my head, said that I was still alive.


Word Meaning
Shrieking Shouting
Screams Shouts
Pounding Beating


Douglas was trying to shout under the water. But voice did not come out of his mouth. He was not able to make any movement. His whole body felt stiff and rigid as if he was paralysed. Beating of his heart and throbbing in his head indicated that he was alive.

And then in the midst of the terror came a touch of reason. I must remember to jump when I hit the bottom. At last I felt the tiles under me. My toes reached out as if to grab them. I jumped with everything I had.


Word Meaning
Midst of Middle of
Reason Logic, Ability to think
Grab To catch, To hold
At last Finally


Even in the middle of terror, Douglas had maintained his ability to think logically. He recalled that he had to jump when his feet touch bottom of the pool. Finally his feet touched the tiles at the bottom of the floor. His toes tried to catch the floor. He then jumped with all his strength.

But the jump made no difference. The water was still around me. I looked for ropes, ladders, water wings. Nothing but water. A mass of yellow water held me.

But the jump did not cause any difference. Water was still around Douglas. (means he was still under the water). He started searching for ladders, ropes and water wings. (he was desperately moving his hands to hold something to give him support). But he felt only water. The water with yellow tinge was not allowing him to move out.

Stark terror took an even deeper hold on me, like a great charge of electricity. I shook and trembled with fright.


Word Meaning
Stark terror Lot of terror, Harsh Terror
Deeper hold Stronger hold
Trembled Quivered, Shook
Fright Fear


The terror became more intense. It took a stronger hold on me. (means I was very afraid). The terror caught Douglas as if he was caught by an electric current. Douglas was shaking and shivering because of fear.

My arms wouldn’t move. My legs wouldn’t move. I tried to call for help, to call for mother. Nothing happened.

Douglas could not move his arms. He could not move his legs. He tried to shout for help. He tried to call his mother. But he could not.

And then, strangely, there was light. I was coming out of the awful yellow water. At least my eyes were. My nose was almost out too.


Word Meaning
Strangely Peculiarly
Awful Terrible, Frightful


Then Douglas saw light. He found it strange because he thought he would never come out of water. He was coming out of yellow tinged frightful water. His eyes had come out of water. His nose was almost out of water.

Then I started down a third time. I sucked for air and got water. The yellowish light was going out.

Then Douglas started going into the water for the third time. He wanted to breathe air. But water got into his mouth. The light was now disappearing. (means his eyes were closing)

Then all effort ceased. I relaxed. Even my legs felt limp; and a blackness swept over my brain. It wiped out fear; it wiped out terror. There was no more panic.


Word Meaning
Ceased Stopped
Legs felt limp Legs became weak, Legs had no sensation
Wiped out Removed, Erased
Panic Fear, Terror


Then all efforts stopped. Douglas relaxed. His legs became weak. He had no sensation in his legs. A darkness came into his brain. (Everything had become dark.) All the fear was gone. There was no terror.

It was quiet and peaceful. Nothing to be afraid of. This is nice… to be drowsy… to go to sleep… no need to jump… too tired to jump… it’s nice to be carried gently… to float along in space… tender arms around me… tender arms like Mother’s… now I must go to sleep…


Word Meaning
Drowsy Feel like sleeping, Heavy eyed
Tender Soft


Douglas describes his condition.

It was calm and peaceful. All the fear had vanished. It was good to feel like sleeping. It was good to go to sleep. It was nice to float in the space. Douglas felt soft arms of his mother. He says to himself to go to sleep.

I crossed to oblivion, and the curtain of life fell.


Word Meaning
Oblivion Unconscious
Curtain of life fell Died


Douglas became unconscious. He thought he is dead.

The next I remember I was lying on my stomach beside the pool, vomiting. The chap that threw me in was saying, “But I was only fooling.”


Word Meaning
Beside the pool On the side of pool
Chap Person
Fooling Having fun, For fun


When Douglas gained consciousness, he was lying on his stomach near the pool. (Somebody had taken him out of the pool and saved his life) He was vomiting. The person who had ducked Douglas into the pool was saying that he had thrown Douglas into the pool just for fun.

Someone said, “The kid nearly died. Be all right now. Let’s carry him to the locker room.”

Someone scolded the bruiser boy that the kid (Douglas) almost died. Now behave like a good person. Let us take him to locker room.

Several hours later, I walked home. I was weak and trembling. I shook and cried when I lay on my bed. I couldn’t eat that night.

Many hours after being taken out of the pool, Douglas went home. He was weak. He was shivering. He was upset. He cried in his bed. He could not eat anything that night.

For days a haunting fear was in my heart. The slightest exertion upset me, making me wobbly in the knees and sick to my stomach.


Word Meaning
Haunting Unforgettable, Coming to memory repeatedly
Wobbly Shaky, Trembling
Exertion Stress, Tiredness
Sick to stomach Likely to vomit


For many days the fear stayed in the heart of Douglas. The fear used to repeatedly come to him. His knees used to tremble because of even small amount of hard work. He used to vomit because of small stress or small work.

I never went back to the pool. I feared water. I avoided it whenever I could.

After this incident Douglas never went into the swimming pool. He remained fearful of water. He avoided going into water.

A few years later when I came to know the waters of the Cascades, I wanted to get into them.


Word Meaning
Cascades Series of small waterfalls


After some years Douglas heard about cascades. He wanted to go there and take bath in these.

And whenever I did — whether I was wading the Tieton or Bumping River or bathing in Warm Lake of the Goat Rocks — the terror that had seized me in the pool would come back.


Word Meaning
Wading Walking with great efforts


Whenever Douglas walked in a river or took bath in a river, the terror of the swimming pool would come back to him.

It would take possession of me completely. My legs would become paralysed. Icy horror would grab my heart. This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by.


Word Meaning
Icy horror Chilling horror
Grab Catch, Occupy
Handicap Disadvantage


Douglas would be completely under the influence of fear. He would not be able to move his legs. And the horror would come back to his heart and make him very cold. The disadvantage of fear of water remained with Douglas during coming years as well. He could not overcome his fear when he grew.

In canoes on Maine lakes fishing for landlocked salmon, bass fishing in New Hampshire, trout fishing on the Deschutes and Metolius in Oregon, fishing for salmon on the Columbia, at Bumping Lake in the Cascades — wherever I went, the haunting fear of the water followed me.


Word Meaning
Canoe Boat
Salmon Type of fish
Landlocked salmon Salmon fish in a lake not connected to sea
Bass Type of fish
Trout Type of fish

Douglas went in a boat for fishing in Maine lakes. He also went to other places for fishing. He went to waterfalls. Everywhere the unforgettable fear of water came to him.

It ruined my fishing trips; deprived me of the joy of canoeing, boating, and swimming.

Word Meaning
Ruined Destroyed, Irreparable damage
Deprived of Removed, Took away


The fear destroyed joy of fishing trips. It removed all the joy of boating and swimming.

I used every way I knew to overcome this fear, but it held me firmly in its grip. Finally, one October, I decided to get an instructor and learn to swim. I went to a pool and practiced five days a week, an hour each day.

Douglas used every method to overcome his fear. But it did not go away. At last in the month of October he decided to hire services of one coach to learn swimming. (One October means – month of October, he does not remember the year). Douglas practised for one hour in a day for five days in week.

The instructor put a belt around me. A rope attached to the belt went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. He held on to the end of the rope, and we went back and forth, back and forth across the pool, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

The coach had put belt around waist of Douglas. He attached a rope to the belt. The rope was taken over a pulley. The coach used to hold the end of rope. This way there was no chance of drowning. Douglas swam across the pool regularly. (Hour after hour, day after day and week after week means that he practices regularly for a long period of time)

On each trip across the pool a bit of the panic seized me. Each time the instructor relaxed his hold on the rope and I went under, some of the old terror returned and my legs froze.


Word Meaning
A bit of Small amount
Relaxed his hold Loosened the rope
Froze Did not move


During each journey across the pool, some amount of fear used to come to Douglas. Whenever the instructor loosened the rope, Douglas went under the water. At every such time the old fear came to Douglas and his legs would stop moving.

It was three months before the tension began to slack. Then he taught me to put my face under water and exhale, and to raise my nose and inhale. I repeated the exercise hundreds of times. Bit by bit I shed part of the panic that seized me when my head went under water.

Word Meaning
Slack Reduce
Exhale To breathe out
Inhale To breathe in
Bit by bit Slowly, Gradually
Shed Removed, Threw away


After about three months, the fear (tension) started reducing. The coach then taught Douglas to breathe out while keeping mouth under the water. He also taught Douglas to raise his nose above water to breathe in. Douglas repeated these many times. Gradually, Douglas was able to remove his fear of putting head under water.

Next he held me at the side of the pool and had me kick with my legs. For weeks I did just that. At first my legs refused to work. But they gradually relaxed; and finally I could command them.

After this exercise, the coach taught Douglas to how to use his legs for swimming. Douglas caught side of the pool with his hands and used his legs to kick water. He did this exercise for many weeks. Initially he could not move his legs. Gradually he learnt the correct method.

Thus, piece by piece, he built a swimmer. And when he had perfected each piece, he put them together into an integrated whole.


Word Meaning
Piece by piece Part by part, Step by step
Integrated Combined


Through step by step instructions the coach taught swimming. When Douglas had learnt every step, instructor combined all the steps into one lesson.

In April he said, “Now you can swim. Dive off and swim the length of the pool, crawl stroke.” I did. The instructor was finished.


Word Meaning
Crawl stroke A style of swimming


In the month of April the coach told Douglas that he could swim. Coach asked Douglas to dive into the swimming pool and do a crawl stroke. Douglas did that successfully. The work of instructor was completed.

But I was not finished. I still wondered if I would be terror-stricken when I was alone in the pool. I tried it. I swam the length up and down.


Word Meaning
Terror stricken Terrified


But my work was not completed. I had a doubt if I would get terror when I was alone in the swimming pool. So I swam alone. I swam the length of pool from one end to another and then back to first end.

Tiny vestiges of the old terror would return. But now I could frown and say to that terror, “Trying to scare me, eh? Well, here’s to you! Look!” And off I’d go for another length of the pool.


Word Meaning
Tiny Very small, Minute
Vestiges Remainder, Trace
Frown To glare, To face


Very small amount of terror would sometimes come back to me. But now I could look directly at the terror and tell him that I was not scared of it. Look, I am not scared of you. And then I would swim one more time along the length of pool.

This went on until July. But I was still not satisfied. I was not sure that all the terror had left.

I kept doing that till July. But I was not satisfied. I was not sure every amount of terror had left me.

So I went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire, dived off a dock at Triggs Island, and swam two miles across the lake to Stamp Act Island.

So Douglas went to a lake in Hampshire. He dived from an edge at Triggs Island. He swam two miles across another lake. He reached Stamp Act island. (He is trying to test himself to be sure that he is fully confident. And that there is no trace of terror left.)

I swam the crawl, breast stroke, side stroke, and back stroke. Only once did the terror return.

Douglas swam with different styles of swimming. Only on one occasion, he felt terror.

When I was in the middle of the lake, I put my face under and saw nothing but bottomless water. The old sensation returned in miniature. I laughed and said, “Well, Mr Terror, what do you think you can do to me?” It fled and I swam on.


Word Meaning
Miniature Very small


When Douglas was in the middle of the lake, he put his face under the water. He saw water only. The old feeling of terror came to him in very small amount. Douglas laughed and said to himself. Mr Terror, you cannot do anything to me. (It shows his confidence on himself) The terror ran away and he continued to swim.

Yet I had residual doubts. At my first opportunity I hurried west, went up the Tieton to Conrad Meadows, up the Conrad Creek Trail to Meade Glacier, and camped in the high meadow by the side of Warm Lake.


Word Meaning
Residual Remaining, Left over
Hurried Went quickly
Meadow Grass field, Grassland
Camped Stayed temporarily, Stay in tent for short time


Still Douglas had some left over doubts. So he went to Tieton and other places. He stayed in a tent in a grass field on the side a lake called Warm Lake.

The next morning I stripped, dived into the lake, and swam across to the other shore and back — just as Doug Corpron used to do. I shouted with joy, and Gilbert Peak returned the echo. I had conquered my fear of water.


Word Meaning
Conquered Won, Overcame


Next morning he changed to his swimming costume. He dived into the lake to cross its breadth and returned to the starting point. He was very happy. He shouted with joy. There was an echo from the mountain called Gilbert Peak. Now Douglas felt that he had overcome his fear.

The experience had a deep meaning for me, as only those who have known stark terror and conquered it can appreciate.


Word Meaning
Deep Meaning Great importance, Big effect
Appreciate Understand


The experience had a big effect on Douglas. Those who know the terror, can only understand the joy of overcoming it.

In death there is peace. There is terror only in the fear of death, as Roosevelt knew when he said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

After death everything becomes peaceful. One feels terror because of fear of death. Nobody wants to die. Roosevelt had said that we should fear the fear itself. Meaning that we should be brave. We should not be afraid of.

Because I had experienced both the sensation of dying and the terror that fear of it can produce, the will to live somehow grew in intensity.


Word Meaning
Will Desire


Douglas had nearly died. So he had experienced the terror and the feeling of death it causes. Now his desire to live became strong.

At last I felt released — free to walk the trails and climb the peaks and to brush aside fear.


Word Meaning
Released Relaxed
Trail A narrow path
Brushed aside Neglected, Refused to accept


Finally Douglas was relaxed. He could now fearlessly walk on narrow paths, climb mountain peaks. His fear was gone. He refused to accept fear.



Important Links
Deep Water – Textbook Q&A Deep Water – Extra Q&A
Lost Spring – Explanation The Rattrap – Explanation
Lost Spring – Textbook Q&A The Rattrap – Textbook Q&A
Lost Spring – Extra Q&A The Rattrap – Extra Q&A
Passages Note Making
Letter Writing Notice Writing
Advertisement Writing Article Writing
Report Writing




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