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English CBSE Class 10 NCERT First Flight Chapter 6 The Hundred Dresses – II Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words

THE HUNDRED DRESSES – II

(Explanation)

WHILE the class was circling the room, the monitor from the principal’s office brought Miss Mason a note. Miss Mason read it several times and studied it thoughtfully for a while. Then she clapped her hands. “Attention, class. Everyone back to their seat.”

Word Meaning
Circling Moving around
Monitor An official

All students of the class were going around the room to look at the drawings. During that time a person from the office of the principal brought a paper to Miss Masson. She read that paper many times. She studied it carefully for some time. Then she clapped her hands. She asked everybody to go back to their seats.

When the shuffling of feet had stopped and the room was still and quiet, Miss Mason said, “I have a letter from Wanda’s father that I want to read to you.”

Word Meaning
Shuffling of feet Sound of movement of feet
Still Without movement, Motionless
Quiet Silence

When sound of movement of feet had stopped, all movements in the class had stopped and there was no sound in the class, then Miss Mason spoke. She said that she had a letter from Wanda’s father. She wanted to read that letter for the students of class.

 

 

Miss Mason stood there a moment and the silence in the room grew tense and expectant. The teacher adjusted her glasses slowly and deliberately. Her manner indicated that what was coming — this letter from Wanda’s father — was a matter of great importance. Everybody listened closely as Miss Mason read the brief note.

Word Meaning
Expectant Eager
Glasses Spectacles
Deliberately Intentionally
Manner Style, Method
Closely Carefully

Miss Mason did not speak for a some time. Every student was silent, tense and eager. The teacher slowly and intentionally adjusted her spectacles. Her style indicated that she was going to read something of great importance. It was a letter from Wanda’s father. When Miss Mason started reading the brief note, everybody listened with full attention.

Dear Teacher:

My Wanda will not come to your school any more. Jake also. Now we move away to big city. No more holler ‘Pollack’. No more ask why funny name. Plenty of funny names in the big city.

Yours truly,

Jan Petronski

Word Meaning
No more holler Pollack No teasing

Dear teacher,

My daughter Wanda will not come to your school. Jake (probably he is brother of Wanda) will also not be coming to school. We are shifting to a big city. She will not be teased there. Nobody will ask why her name is funny. In a big city several people of different names stay.

The letter was signed by Jan Petronski.

 

 

A deep silence met the reading of this letter. Miss Mason took off her glasses, blew on them and wiped them on her soft white handkerchief. Then she put them on again and looked at the class. When she spoke her voice was very low.

Word Meaning
Took off Removed
Wiped Cleaned

After listening to the letter the whole class was silent. Miss Mason removed her spectacles. Blew air from her mouth on it and cleaned it with her soft handkerchief. Then she again put on her glasses and looked at the students. She spoke in a very low voice.

“I am sure that none of the boys and girls in Room Thirteen would purposely and deliberately hurt anyone’s feelings because his or her name happened to be a long, unfamiliar one. I prefer to think that what was said was said in thoughtlessness. I know that all of you feel the way I do, that this is a very unfortunate thing to have happened — unfortunate and sad, both. And I want you all to think about it.”

Word Meaning
Purposely Knowingly
Deliberately Intentionally
Thoughtlessness Carelessness, Without empathy

I am sure that no student of this class will intentionally hurt anybody’s feeling because a name was long or strange. I would like to assume that what was said to Wanda was carelessness. [Nobody understood its impact]. I am aware that we all are feeling that it is unfortunate as well as sad that Wanda has left the school. I want you to think about it.

The first period was a study period. Maddie tried to prepare her lessons, but she could not put her mind on her work. She had a very sick feeling in the bottom of her stomach.

Word Meaning
Could not put mind Could not concentrate
Sick feeling in the stomach Disturbed, Upset

In the first period a teacher taught the class. Maddie tried to understand what was being taught. But she was not able to concentrate. She was very upset and disturbed.

True, she had not enjoyed listening to Peggy ask Wanda how many dresses she had in her closet, but she had said nothing. She had stood by silently, and that was just as bad as what Peggy had done. Worse. She was a coward.

Word Meaning
Closet Cupboard
Stood by Supported

It is true that Maddie did not like Peggy asking Wanda how many dresses she had in her cupboard. But Maddie had not said anything to Peggy. So she silently supported Peggy. She thought her silence was as bad as Peggy had done to Wanda. Maddie thought that she was a coward.

At least Peggy hadn’t considered they were being mean but she, Maddie, had thought they were doing wrong. She could put herself in Wanda’s shoes.

Word Meaning
Mean Selfish
To put in someone’s shoes Imagine to be in someone’s situation

Peggy did not understand they were behaving like selfish persons. Peggy did not understand the effect her questions would have on Wanda. But Maddie was aware that it was wrong. Maddie could imagine herself to be in situation of Wanda.

Goodness! Wasn’t there anything she could do? If only she could tell Wanda she hadn’t meant to hurt her feelings. She turned around and stole a glance at Peggy, but Peggy did not look up. She seemed to be studying hard.

Word Meaning
Stole a Glance Took a quick short look

Maddie thought if she could do anything now. Maddie thought it would be good to tell Wanda that she did not want to hurt her feelings. Maddie took a quick look at Peggy. But Peggy did not look at her. Peggy was probably concentrating on her studies.

Well, whether Peggy felt badly or not, she, Maddie, had to do something. She had to find Wanda Petronski. Maybe she had not yet moved away. Maybe Peggy would climb the Heights with her, and they would tell Wanda she had won the contest, that they thought she was smart and the hundred dresses were beautiful.

Whether Peggy felt bad about the incident or not, Maddie wanted to do something about it. She wanted to meet Wanda Petronski. Probably she had not yet shifted to another city. May be Peggy will come with her to Boggins Heights. They would tell Wanda that she was the winner of the contest, she was smart and her hundred dresses were beautiful.

When school was dismissed in the afternoon, Peggy said, with pretended casualness, “Hey, let’s go and see if that kid has left town or not.” So Peggy had had the same idea! Maddie glowed. Peg was really all right.

Word Meaning
Glowed Felt very happy

When the school was closed in the afternoon Peggy told Maddie to go to Boggins Heights. Peggy behaved as if she was quite normal. She wanted to check whether Wanda had gone away or not. So Peggy also wanted to meet Wanda. Maddie felt very happy. She thought Peggy was always right.

The two girls hurried out of the building, up the street toward Boggins Heights, the part of town that wore such a forbidding air on this kind of a November afternoon, drizzly, damp and dismal.

Word Meaning
Forbidding air Disagreeable, Prohibited
Drizzly Rainy weather
Damp Wet
Dismal Dull, Sad

Maddie and Peggy quickly came out of the school building and started going towards Boggins Heights. People did not want to go in that part of the town. During month of November there used to be rains in that area. The locality was wet [water flowing in open area] and it had a dull look.

“Well, at least,” said Peggy gruffly, “I never did call her a foreigner or make fun of her name. I never thought she had the sense to know we were making fun of her anyway. I thought she was too dumb. And gee, look how she can draw!”

Word Meaning
Gruffly Roughly, Abruptly
Had the sense Had wisdom
Dumb Fool

Peggy said in a rough voice that she had never called Wanda a foreigner. She had never made fun of her name. I never thought she had the wisdom to understand that we were only having some fun. [We were not serious]. I thought she was a big fool. But she can make beautiful drawings.

Maddie could say nothing. All she hoped was that they would find Wanda. She wanted to tell her that they were sorry they had picked on her, and how wonderful the whole school thought she was, and please, not to move away and everybody would be nice. She and Peggy would fight anybody who was not nice.

Word Meaning
Pick on somebody Tease somebody

Maddie did not say anything. She wished that they would meet Wanda. Maddie wanted to tell Wanda that they were sorry to tease her. The school thought that Wanda was a wonderful girl. She wanted to request Wanda not to go away and that everybody would be nice to her. She and Peggy will fight with anyone who was not nice to Wanda.

The two girls hurried on. They hoped to get to the top of the hill before dark. “I think that’s where the Petronskis live,” said Maddie, pointing to a little white house. Wisps of old grass stuck up here and there along the pathway like thin kittens.

Word Meaning
Wisps Strands, Bunches
Here and there Everywhere, Spread

Two girls started walking quickly. The wanted to reach top of the hill before sunset. Pointing to a house of white colour, Maddie said that probably Patronkis family lived there. Bunches of old grass had grown all over the path.

The house and its sparse little yard looked shabby but clean. It reminded Maddie of Wanda’s one dress, her faded blue cotton dress, shabby but clean.

Word Meaning
Sparse Small
Shabby Not looking nice

The house and its small yard did not look nice but it was clean. It reminded Maddie about the faded blue dress of Wanda. The dress did not look nice but was always clean.

There was not a sign of life about the house. Peggy knocked firmly on the door, but there was no answer. She and Maddie went around to the back yard and knocked there. Still there was no answer.

Word Meaning
Not a sign of life Nobody lived there

It looked that nobody lived there. Peggy knocked at the door but nobody answered it. The two girls went to back of the house and knocked at the back door. But there was no answer.

There was no doubt about it. The Petronskis were gone. How could they ever make amends? They turned slowly and made their way back down the hill.

Word Meaning
Make amends To correct a mistake

Now they were sure that family of Petronskis had shifted to new place. So there was no scope for correcting their mistake. They turned back and slowly started climbing down the hill to return to their houses.

“Well, anyway,” said Peggy, “she’s gone now, so what can we do? Besides, when I was asking her about all her dresses, she probably was getting good ideas for her drawings. She might not even have won the contest, otherwise.”

Word Meaning
Besides Additionally
Contest Competition

Peggy said that now Wanda has gone away so they cannot do anything. Additionally, when I was asking her about the dresses, she was probably getting ideas for her drawings. Otherwise she would not have won the competition.

Maddie turned this idea carefully over in her head, for if there were anything in it she would not have to feel so badly. But that night she could not get to sleep. She thought about Wanda and her faded blue dress and the little house she had lived in.

Word Meaning
Turn-over in head To think repeatedly

Maddie repeatedly thought about this idea. Because if the argument of Peggy was right, Wanda would not have felt so bad about teasing. That night Maddie could not sleep. She continued to think about Wanda, her faded blue dress and the small house where she lived.

And she thought of the glowing picture those hundred dresses made — all lined up in the classroom. At last Maddie sat up in bed and pressed her forehead tight in her hands and really thought.

Word Meaning
Glowing Shining

She thought of shining picture of hundred dresses made by Wanda which were exhibited in the class room. Finally Maddie sat up in her bed. She put her forehead in her hands and started thinking.

This was the hardest thinking she had ever done. After a long, long time, she reached an important conclusion. She was never going to stand by and say nothing again.

Word Meaning
Stand by Support

This was the toughest thinking she had done in her life. After a very long time she came to an important conclusion. She decided that she would not support any thing wrong and keep quiet.

If she ever heard anybody picking on someone because they were funny looking or because they had strange names, she’d speak up. Even if it meant losing Peggy’s friendship. She had no way of making things right with Wanda, but from now on she would never make anybody else that unhappy again.

Word Meaning
Picking on someone Teasing some one
Speak up To oppose

If she came to know that anybody was teasing someone because their appearance or name being funny, she would oppose it. She would oppose even if she lost friendship of Peggy. Maddie had no method to correct the wrong done to Wanda. But she promised to herself that she would never make anybody unhappy to that extent.

On Saturday Maddie spent the afternoon with Peggy. They were writing a letter to Wanda Petronski. It was just a friendly letter telling about the contest and telling Wanda she had won.

In the afternoon of Saturday, Maddie and Peggy were together. They wrote a letter to Wanda Petronski. It was a friendly letter. They wanted to inform her about the competition and that she had won the competition

They told her how pretty her drawings were. And they asked her if she liked where she was living and if she liked her new teacher. They had meant to say they were sorry, but it ended up with their just writing a friendly letter, the kind they would have written to any good friend, and they signed it with lots of X’s for love.

They wrote that her drawings were beautiful. They asked her if she liked where she was living and if she liked her new teacher. They wanted to say sorry to her but finally they wrote only a friendly letter. This letter was similar to one they would have written to a good friend. At the end of the letter they wrote lot of X’s to show that they loved Wanda.

They mailed the letter to Boggins Heights, writing ‘Please Forward’ on the envelope.

They wrote the address of Boggins Heights on the envelope. They also wrote ‘Please Forward’ on the top of the envelope. [They thought that Wanda might have given her new address to the post office and people at the post office will forward the letter to Wanda at her new address]

Days passed and there was no answer, but the letter did not come back, so maybe Wanda had received it. Perhaps she was so hurt and angry she was not going to answer. You could not blame her.

Even after many days they did not receive any reply to their letter. But the letter did not come back to them. [Which means that post office people had forwarded the letter to the new address of Wanda] They assumed that Wanda was so hurt and angry at them that she did not want to reply. They could not hold Wanda responsible for being angry.

Weeks went by and still Wanda did not answer. Peggy had begun to forget the whole business, and Maddie put herself to sleep at night making speeches about Wanda, defending her from great crowds of girls who were trying to tease her with, “How many dresses have you got?”

Many weeks passed but Wanda had not replied to their letter. Peggy had almost forgotten the complete incident. Maddie used to make speeches about Wanda in her dreams. She would protect Wanda from the large crowds of girls. These girls were trying to tease Wanda by asking Wanda how many dresses she had.

And before Wanda could press her lips together in a tight line, the way she did before answering, Maddie would cry out, “Stop!” Then everybody would feel ashamed the way she used to feel.

Before answering the question Wanda would as usual press her lips together. Just at that time Maddie would shout ‘Stop!’ Then everybody would feel ashamed same way as Wanda used to feel.

Now it was Christmas time and there was snow on the ground. Christmas bells and a small tree decorated the classroom. On the last day of school before the holidays, the teacher showed the class a letter she had received that morning.

Now only some days were left for Christmas. There was snow on the ground. The classroom was decorated with a bell and a small tree. On the last day of the school before vacation, the teacher showed a letter to the class. She had received that letter in the morning.

“You remember Wanda Petronski, the gifted little artist who won the drawing contest? Well, she has written me, and I am glad to know where she lives, because now I can send her medal. I want to read her letter to you.”

Word Meaning
Gifted Talented

Teacher asked the class students if they remembered talented artist Wanda Petronski. She was student of this class who had won the drawing competition. She has written a letter to me. I am happy to know where she lives. Now I will send the medal to her. I want to read the letter to you all.

The class sat up with a sudden interest and listened intently.

The class was suddenly interested and listened carefully with full attention.

Dear Miss Mason,

How are you and Room Thirteen? Please tell the girls they can keep those hundred dresses, because in my new house I have a hundred new ones, all lined up in my closet. I’d like that girl Peggy to have the drawing of the green dress with the red trimming, and her friend Maddie to have the blue one. For Christmas, I miss that school and my new teacher does not equalise with you. Merry Christmas to you and everybody.

Yours truly,

Wanda Petronski

The letter was addressed to Miss Mason.

How to do you do and students of Room Thirteen? Please tell girls to keep those hundred dresses with them. Because in my new house I have another hundred dresses neatly put in my cupboard. I want to give the drawing of green dress with red trimmings to Peggy. I want to give the blue dress drawing to Maddie. I miss the school on Christmas. My new teacher is not as good as you are. Merry Christmas to you and everybody.

The letter was signed by Wanda.

On the way home from school Maddie and Peggy held their drawings very carefully. All the houses had wreaths and holly in the windows.

Word Meaning
Wreath Circular decoration
Holly Type of green coloured grass

While going back to their houses, Maddie and Peggy were holding their drawings very carefully. All the houses had put circular decorations and green grass in windows.

Outside the grocery store, hundreds of Christmas trees were stacked, and in the window, candy peppermint sticks and cornucopias of shiny transparent paper were strung.

Word Meaning
Grocery store General store
Candy Toffee
Cornucopia Decoration in the form of a horn

Outside general stores hundreds of Christmas trees were displayed. In the windows, peppermint toffees were displayed. There were strings of decorative horns made of shining transparent paper.

The air smelled like Christmas and light shining everywhere reflected different colours on the snow. “Boy!” said Peggy, “this shows she really likes us. It shows she got our letter and this is her way of saying that everything’s all right. And that’s that.”

Everywhere there were decoration for Christmas. The lights were shining. It reflected in different colours on the snow. Peggy said that the letter indicated that Wanda liked us. She received our letter. Her letter indicates that everything is all right. [Meaning that Wanda has forgiven them]. And it is good.

“I hope so,” said Maddie sadly. She felt sad because she knew she would never see the little tight-lipped Polish girl again and couldn’t ever really make things right between them.

Word Meaning
Tight lipped One who does not speak
Polish From Poland

Maddie sadly said that she hoped that Wanda had forgiven them. Maddie was sad because she would never meet that girl from Poland who did not speak. Maddie will never be able to remove the misunderstanding between herself and Wanda.

She went home and she pinned her drawing over a torn place in the pink-flowered wallpaper in the bedroom. The shabby room came alive from the brilliancy of the colours.

Word Meaning
Shabby Ugly
Came alive Started looking beautiful

Maddie reached home. She put that drawing with the help of a pin on the wall. The wall had torn wall paper. The wall paper had pictures of pink coloured flowers on it. The ugly room started looking beautiful because of the brilliant drawing.

Maddie sat down on her bed and looked at the drawing. She had stood by and said nothing, but Wanda had been nice to her, anyway.

Maddie sat down on her bed and looked at the drawing. Maddie had supported Peggy by remaining silent. But Wanda had behaved nicely to Maddie.

Tears blurred her eyes and she gazed for a long time at the picture. Then hastily she rubbed her eyes and studied it intently.

Word Meaning
Blurred Not clear, Made Hazy
Gazed Looked
Hastily Quickly
Intently Carefully

Tears came to her eyes. She could not see clearly because of tears. She looked at the drawing for a long time. Then she quickly rubbed her eyes and studied the drawing carefully.

The colours in the dress were so vivid that she had scarcely noticed the face and head of the drawing. But it looked like her, Maddie! It really looked like her own mouth.

Word Meaning
Vivid Bright, Clear
Scarcely Hardly, Barely

The colours in the drawing were so bright that she could hardly notice the face and head of the drawing. But the face looked like her. Yes, it really looked like her own face.

Why it really looked like her own self! Wanda had really drawn this for her. Excitedly, she ran over to Peggy’s. “Peg!” she said, “let me see your picture.”

Maddie thought why the drawing looked like her own picture. Wanda had actually drawn this drawing for Maddie. She ran to the house of Peggy. She asked Peggy to look at her drawing.

“What’s the matter?” asked Peggy, as they clattered up to her room where Wanda’s drawing was lying face down on the bed. Maddie carefully raised it.

Word Meaning
Clattered Walked with sounds of footsteps

Peggy asked Maddie what was the reason for coming to her. They walked to Peggy’s room. Drawing made by Wanda was lying on her bed with its face down. Maddie carefully picked up the drawing.

“Look! She drew you. That’s you!” she exclaimed. And the head and face of this picture did look like Peggy. “What did I say!” said Peggy, “She must have really liked us, anyway.”

Maddie told with surprise that Wanda had drawn face of Peggy in the drawing. The face and the head looked like Peggy. Peggy told that probably Wanda actually liked us.

“Yes, she must have,” agreed Maddie, and she blinked away the tears that came every time she thought of Wanda standing alone in that sunny spot in the school yard, looking stolidly over at the group of laughing girls after she had walked off, after she had said, “Sure, a hundred of them, all lined up.”

Word Meaning
Stolidly Calmly, Without any feelings

Maddie agreed that Wanda must have liked them. She removed tears of her eyes by repeatedly closing her eyes. Tears used to come to Maddie’s eyes whenever she thought of Wanda standing alone in the sun in the school yard. The girls used to laugh at Wanda after listening that she had hundred dresses. Wanda would look at the laughing girls calmly and without any feeling.

****

 

ANIMALS

(Explanation)

 

I think I could turn and live with animals,

they are so placid and self-contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

Word Meaning
Placid Calm
Self-contained Self-controlled, Satisfied
Long To wish, To have a desire
Poetic Devices
I think I could turn and live with animals Repetition
I think I could turn and live with animals Alliteration
I think I could turn and live with animals Assonance
I stand and look at them long and long Repetition

Poet wishes that he could run away from human beings and start living with animals. Because they are so calm and self-controlled and self-satisfied. They are satisfied with their life. The poet looks at them for a very long period. He has a strong desire to live with animals.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

Word Meaning
Sweat and whine To complain
Sin Wrongdoing, Morally wrong
Poetic Devices
They do not sweat and whine Metaphor
They do not lie awake in the dark Alliteration

These animals do not complain about their conditions. They do not remain awake in the night. They do not commit anything morally wrong to repent later. But human beings do many things wrong and repent later. They would lie awake in the night because of guilt.

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Word Meaning
Make someone sick To upset someone
Demented Crazy,
Mania Obsession, Urge
Poetic Devices
They do not make me sick discussing Alliteration
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is Repetition

They do not upset me by discussing their duty towards God. [Here the poet is trying to point out the disturbance in the world because of various religions] No animal is dissatisfied. No animal is crazy with the urge to possess more and more things.

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

Word Meaning
Kneel Bow down
Poetic Devices
Not one kneels to another, nor to his Alliteration
Not one kneels to another, nor to his Assonance
Not one kneels to another, nor to his Repetition
that lived thousands of years ago Alliteration

No animal bows down to another animal. No animal bows down to an animal that had lived thousands of years ago. No animal is more respected or more important than the other. No animal is unhappy.

The poet is pointing at the inequality and unhappiness prevailing among human beings.

So they show their relations to me and I accept them,

They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession

Word Meaning
Token Quality
Evince Show, Reveal
Plainly In a simple way
Poetic Devices
So they show their relations to me Alliteration
They bring me tokens of myself Alliteration
They bring me tokens of myself Alliteration
they evince them plainly in their possession Alliteration

So animals always show their true nature to the world. And the world accepts them as they are. They do not pretend their behaviour. In a very simple form they reveal their behaviour and qualities.

I wonder where they get those tokens,

Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?

Word Meaning
Huge time ago Long time ago
Negligently Carelessly
Poetic Devices
I wonder where they get those tokens Alliteration
I wonder where they get those tokens Assonance

I do not know from where they get the quality of being honest about their behaviour. Human being have lost qualities of being honest and innocent. Many years ago, human beings had these qualities. But carelessly they have lost these values.

****

Important Links
The Hundred Dresses II – Textbook Q&A The Hundred Dresses II – Extra Q&A
The Hundred Dresses I – Explanation The Glimpses of India – Explanation
The Hundred Dresses I – Textbook Q&A The Glimpses of India – Textbook Q&A
The Hundred Dresses I – Extra Q&A The Glimpses of India – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing

 


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