English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Hornbill Chapter 1 The Portrait of a Lady Free Solution of Textbook Questions and Answers


(Textbook Questions)

Understanding the text


Q 1. The three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad.

Answer: The first phase was when parents of author left to the city. During this time author and grandmother lived in the village.

The second phase was when author and grandmother also shifted to city and the author started going to English medium school. They shared a room during this period.

The third phase was when the author had moved upto University and he was given a separate room in the house. Now grandmother was alone in her room.



Q 2. Three reasons why the author’s grandmother was disturbed when he started going to the city school.

Answer: The author narrated his learning about science and English words. She could not help in his homework.

School did not teach anything about God and scriptures.

Author started learning music at his school.


Q 3. Three ways in which the author’s grandmother spent her days after he grew up.

Answer: She spent her day in saying her prayers.

She spent her day in spinning her wheel.

She started feeding sparrows.



Q 4. The odd way in which the author’s grandmother behaved just before she died.

Answer: She did not say her prayers in the evening. She collected women of neighbourhood. For several hours she played an old drum and sang song of home-coming of warrior.

Next morning she fell sick of fever. The doctor said she would recover. She said that her end had come. She decided to say her prayers instead of talking to anybody. She died while saying her prayers.


Q 5. The way in which the sparrows expressed their sorrow when the author’s grandmother died.

Answer: Thousands of sparrows came and sat silently. They did not eat the bread crumbs thrown at them. When the grandmother was carried away, they silently left the house. They did not eat the bread pieces thrown at them.


Talking about the text

Talk to your partner about the following.

Q 1. The author’s grandmother was a religious person. What are the different ways in which we come to know this?

Answer: The grandmother used to say her prayers using beads of rosary. She used to go to a temple to read scriptures. She used to feed street dogs. Later she had started feeding sparrows.


Q 2. Describe the changing relationship between the author and his grandmother. Did their feelings for each other change?

Answer: In the village, the author was fully dependent on grandmother. She used to give him bath, take care of his school bag, escort him to school and back to home. She helped him in his homework.

When they moved to city, the author started going to an English medium school in a bus. The grandmother could not help him in his homework.

When author moved upto University, he was given a separate room. Now they talked less to each other.

Their feelings for each other never changed. They loved each other a lot.

Q 3. Would you agree that the author’s grandmother was a person strong in character? If yes, give instances that show this.

Answer: The grandmother was certainly a strong person. Following instances indicate her strong character –

She took care of author while his parents had moved to city.

She quickly adjusted to changed scenario of city life.

She aligned herself to the schooling of author in an English medium school.

She found new pleasure time activity in feeding sparrows.

She came to the railway station to see off the author.

She came at the railway station to receive the author.

She celebrated return of her grandson.

She had sensed that her end had come.


Thinking about language

Q 1. Which language do you think the author and his grandmother used while talking to each other?

Answer: Probably they used Hindi while talking to each other.


Q 2. Which language do you use to talk to elderly relatives in your family?

Students should answer this question themselves.


Q 3. How would you say ‘a dilapidated drum’ in your language?

Students should answer this question themselves.

Q 4. Can you think of a song or a poem in your language that talks of homecoming?

Students should answer this question themselves.


Working with words

I. Notice the following uses of the word ‘tell’ in the text.

1. Her fingers were busy telling the beads of her rosary.

2. I would tell her English words and little things of Western science and learning.

3. At her age one could never tell.

4. She told us that her end was near.

Given below are four different senses of the word ‘tell’. Match the meanings to the uses listed above.

a. make something known to someone in spoken or written words

b. count while reciting

c. be sure

d. give information to somebody

Answer: 1-b, 2-d, 3-c, 4-a


II. Notice the different senses of the word ‘take’.

1. to take to something: to begin to do something as a habit

2. to take ill: to suddenly become ill

Locate these phrases in the text and notice the way they are used.

There were no dogs in the streets and she took to feeding sparrows in the courtyard of our city house.

The next morning she was taken ill.


III. The word ‘hobble’ means to walk with difficulty because the legs and feet are in bad condition.

Tick the words in the box below that also refer to a manner of walking.


Word Manner of walking
Haggle No
Shuffle Yes
Stride Yes
Ride No
Waddle Yes
Wriggle No
Swagger Yes
Trudge Yes
Slog No




(Textbook Questions)

Think it out

Q 1. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?

Answer: The word ‘cardboard’ is used to represent that the photograph has been printed on a piece of paper. Probably it is pasted in an album that has hard paper.

This word has been used to convey that the setting of poem is of long back when soft copies of photographs did not exist. It also represents that the life is short. Beyond death of a person only the memory prevails.

Q 2. What has the camera captured?

Answer: The camera has captured a photograph of the mother of the poem. The photo also has two cousins of her mother standing on her either side and holding her hands.

Q 3. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?

Answer: The sea has not changed over the years. But mother of her poet is no more. Life is really short.

It also indicates that the external world remains similar but the emotional world of living beings changes a lot more

Q 4. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?

Answer: The poet’s mother laughed after looking at their dresses in the snapshot. Such type of dresses is considered old fashioned these days. She laughed that once she had worn such clothes.

It can also mean that she was recalling her good childhood days. She felt happy about those days and laughed.

Q 5. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease of loss.”

Answer: The poet recognizes that her favorite pastime as well as that of her mother was a cause of happiness.  But now none of these two existed. It was difficult to accept this reality of the life. Poet is aware that such acceptance will reduce the pain of loss of her mother.

Q 6. What does “this circumstance” refer to?

Answer: ‘This circumstances’ refers to the situation after death of the mother of the poet. Though her mother has died, the poet is still alive and she has to suffer the emotional stress of loss of her mother.

Q 7. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?

Answer: First stanza – Childhood days of poet’s mother.

Second Stanza – Middle age of poet’s mother and childhood days of poet

Third stanza – Period after death of poet’s mother and middle age of poet.



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