English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Snapshot Chapter 7 Birth – Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words

BIRTH – Explanation

Author – AJ Cronin

THOUGH it was nearly midnight when Andrew reached Bryngower, he found Joe Morgan waiting for him, walking up and down with short steps between the closed surgery and the entrance to the house.

Andrew is a doctor. He reached his home at Bryngower at about midnight. Joe Morgan was waiting for him. Joe was walking between the closed operation theater of the hospital and the entrance of Andrew’s house.



At the sight of him the burly driller’s face expressed relief.

“Eh, Doctor, I’m glad to see you. I been back and forward here this last hour. The missus wants ye —before time, too.”

Word Meaning
Burly Strong, Heavily built
Missus Wife
Ye You

Joe was heavily built person who worked in mine as a driller. When Joe saw Andrew, he felt lot of relief. It was visible on his face. Joe told Andrew that he was happy to see him. Joe had been walking between operation theater and Andrew’s room since last one hour. Joe told that his wife was about to give birth to a child. It is before the normal time.

Andrew, abruptly recalled from the contemplation of his own affairs, told Morgan to wait. He went into the house for his bag, then together they set out for Number 12 Blaina Terrace.

Word Meaning
Abruptly Suddenly, Quickly. Immediately
Contemplation Thoughts
Set out Start

Andrew was busy thinking about his own matters. He immediately stopped thinking and asked Morgan to wait for a short time. He went into his house. He took his bag with him. Then both of them walked towards 12 Blaina Terrace. Morgan lived there.



The night air was cool and deep with quiet mystery. Usually so perceptive, Andrew now felt dull and listless.

Word Meaning
Air was cool and deep Air was cool and silent
Mystery Secret
Perceptive Sensitive
Listless Without enthusiasm, Unmotivated

The night was cool and silent. So it appeared full of secrets. Normally Andrew was a sensitive person. But today he was dull and did not have any enthusiasm. He had a fight with his girl friend during the evening.

He had no premonition that this night call would prove unusual, still less that it would influence his whole future in Blaenelly.

Word Meaning
Premonition Advance signals, Intuition, Foreboding
Influence Affect, Impact, Effect

Andrew did not have feeling or indication in advance that it would not be a routine night for him. He could not guess that this night would have a huge impact on his reputation in the town of Blaenelly.

The two men walked in silence until they reached the door of Number 12, then Joe drew up short.

“I’ll not come in,” he said, and his voice showed signs of strain. “But, man, I know ye’ll do well for us.”

Word Meaning
Drew up short Stopped, Lagged behind

Both people walked upto the house of Joe without talking. When they reached there, Joe stopped. He said that he would not come in the house. By the tone of his voice, he looked worried. Joe said that he was confident that Andrew would do his best for them.



Inside, a narrow stair led up to a small bedroom, clean but poorly furnished, and lit only by an oil lamp. Here Mrs Morgan’s mother, a tall, grey-haired woman of nearly seventy, and the stout, elderly midwife waited beside the patient, watching Andrew’s expression as he moved about the room.

Word Meaning
Grey-haired Person with white hair
Stout Heavily built, Strong
Beside Near

Inside the house, there was a narrow stair case. Through this stair Andrew went into the bedroom. The bedroom was small but clean. Furniture in the room was not good. An oil lamp was burning in the room for light. Mrs. Morgan’s mother was in the room. She was a tall, about 70 years of age and had grey hair. A heavily built elderly maid was also in the room. Both ladies were standing near the patient – Morgan’s wife. They both looked at Andrew as he walked into the room.

“Let me make you a cup of tea, Doctor, bach,” said the former quickly, after a few moments.

Word Meaning
Bach Dear

I will some tea for you dear doctor. Mrs Morgans’s mother quickly offered to make tea for  Andrew.

Andrew smiled faintly. He saw that the old woman, wise in experience, realised there must be a period of waiting that, she was afraid he would leave the case, saying he would return later.

Word Meaning
Faintly Slightly

Andrew slightly smiled. He had understood that woman was intelligent and experienced. She had realized that it will take some more time for the birth of the child. She did not want the doctor to go out of the house saying to return after sometime.



“Don’t fret, mother, I’ll not run away.”

Down in the kitchen he drank the tea which she gave him. Overwrought as he was, he knew he could not snatch even an hour’s sleep if he went home.

Word Meaning
Fret To hurry
Overwrought Very tense, Very tired

Andrew requested the mother to not to hurry. He assured her that he would not go from the house. The kitchen was at the ground floor. Andrew was sitting in the kitchen and drinking tea. Andrew was aware that he was very tense. Even if he went home , he will not get adequate sleep. Because in about one hour he will have to come back.

He knew, too, that the case here would demand all his attention. A queer lethargy of spirit came upon him. He decided to remain until everything was over.

Word Meaning
Queer Strange
Lethargy Laziness

He was also aware that he will have to give his full attention to the situation of patient at this house. A strange feeling of laziness had come to him. He decided to be at this house till all works were completed.

An hour later he went upstairs again, noted the progress made, came down once more, sat by the kitchen fire. It was still, except for the rustle of a cinder in the grate and the slow tick-tock of the wall clock.

Word Meaning
Still Silent,
Rustle Sound of two thing sliding
Cinder Coal
Grate The frame where coal is placed for burning

After one hour he went to the first floor room to check condition of patient. He came down and sat near the fire burning in kitchen. There was sound of rustle of burning coal and the ticking of clock. Every other thing was silent.



No, there was another sound —the beat of Morgan’s footsteps as he paced in the street outside. The old woman opposite him sat in her black dress, quite motionless, her eyes strangely alive and wise, probing, never leaving his face.

Word Meaning
Beat Sound
Paced Walked
Probing Looking as if to ask a question

There was yet another sound. It was the sound of footstep of Morgan. He was walking in the street. The mother was wearing black dress. She was sitting in front of Andrew. She did not move from there. Her eyes were looking at Andrew as if to ask a question.

His thoughts were heavy, muddled. The episode he had witnessed at Cardiff station still obsessed him morbidly.

Word Meaning
Muddled Mixed, Confused
Station House
Obsessed Deeply affected, Regularly thinking about something
Morbidity Unpleasantly

He had many thoughts in his mind. He was confused. He was deeply affected by the incident he had experienced at the house of his girlfriend Cardiff. Those were really unpleasant and made him sad.

He thought of Bramwell, foolishly devoted to a woman who deceived him sordidly, of Edward Page, bound to the shrewish Blodwen, of Denny, living unhappily, apart from his wife.

Word Meaning
Devoted Dedicated, Loyal
Sordidly Morally wrong, Unpleasantly
Shrewish Quarrelsome, Bad tempered
Apart Away

Andrew thought about Bramwell who was loyal to his wife. But his wife used to deceive her husband Brawell. Andrew thought of Edward Page who was living with his quarrelsome wife Blowdwen. And of Danny, who was living away from his wife but he was unhappy.



His reason told him that all these marriages were dismal failures. It was a conclusion which, in his present state, made him wince.

Word Meaning
Reason Logic
Dismal Total, Complete
Wince Feel pain

His logic told him that all these marriages were total failures. In the present situation, his thoughts made him sad.

He wished to consider marriage as an idyllic state; yes, he could not otherwise consider it with the image of Christine before him. Her eyes, shining towards him, admitted no other conclusion.

Word Meaning
Idyllic Ideal, Perfect
Admitted Allowed, Permitted

He wanted to consider every marriage as an ideal marriage. He could not think of any other situation. He always thought of Christine. Her bright shining eyes did not permit to think of any other state of marriage. He always thought that his marriage with Christine would be a perfect marriage.

It was the conflict between his level, doubting mind and his overflowing heart which left him resentful and confused.

Word Meaning
Conflict Disagreement, Fight
Level Reason, Logic
Overflowing heart Heart full of emotions
Resentful Irritated, Sad

His logic, the doubts in his mind and the emotions of his heart were different. Hence he was irritated and confused.

He let his chin sink upon his chest, stretched out his legs, stared broodingly into the fire. He remained like this so long, and his thoughts were so filled with Christine, that he started when the old woman opposite suddenly addressed him. Her meditation had pursued a different course.

Word Meaning
Broodingly Thinking deeply.
Started Got up with a jerk
Meditation Deep thoughts

Now his chin was touching his chest. He stretched his legs to become more comfortable. He was staring at the fire while deeply thinking about his own life. He remained in that position for a long time. All through he had been thinking about Christine. When the old woman called him, he got up with a jerk. She had been thinking of something else.



“Susan said not to give her the chloroform if it would harm the baby. She’s awful set upon this child, Doctor, bach.” Her old eyes warmed at a sudden thought. She added in a low tone: “Ay, we all are, I fancy.”

Susan is wife of Mrs Morgan. The mother told him that Susan wanted to avoid chloroform because it may harm the baby. She is quite attached to the baby. A shine appeared in the eyes of the old lady. She said that we all are attached to our kids.

He collected himself with an effort.

“It won’t do any harm, the anaesthetic,” he said kindly. “They’ll be all right.”

Word Meaning
Collected himself Composed himself, Calmed himself

With some effort Andrew understood where he was. He replied that anesthesia will not harm the baby. Both mother and baby will be safe.

Here the nurse’s voice was heard calling from the top landing. Andrew glanced at the clock, which now showed half-past three. He rose and went up to the bedroom. He perceived that he might now begin his work.

Now Andrew heard the voice of nurse from the top floor of the building. Andrew looked at the clock. It was 03:30 AM. He got up and went to the bedroom. He decided that he should now start his work.

An hour elapsed. It was a long, harsh struggle. Then, as the first streaks of dawn strayed past the broken edges of the blind, the child was born, lifeless.

Word Meaning
Elapsed Passed
Harsh Difficult, Painful
Streak Ray
Dawn Morning

An hour passed. It was a long, painful and difficult struggle for Susan. After sometime he could see first ray of morning through the broken edge of the curtain. At that instant the child was born. The child was dead.

As he gazed at the still form a shiver of horror passed over Andrew. After all that he had promised! His face, heated with his own exertions, chilled suddenly.

Word Meaning
Still Without movement
Shiver of horror Wave of horror, Tremble due to horror
Exertions Efforts

When he looked at the dead child, he was very afraid and disappointed. He had promised good health to mother and baby, but the baby was dead. He had made lot efforts in his work, so his face had become red. But now his whole body became cold.

He hesitated, torn between his desire to attempt to resuscitate the child, and his obligation towards the mother, who was herself in a desperate state. The dilemma was so urgent he did not solve it consciously.

Word Meaning
Resuscitate To become alive again, Revive, restore
Obligation Duty, Responsibility
Desperate Miserable, Hopeless
Dilemma Conflict, Puzzle

He hesitated a bit. He had two duties to perform. Restore life to the baby and to take care of mother. The mother was also in a very hopeless situation. The conflict was so urgent that he could not spend time thinking about a decision.

Blindly, instinctively, he gave the child to the nurse and turned his attention to Susan Morgan who now lay collapsed, almost pulseless, and not yet out of the ether, upon her side.

Word Meaning
Blindly Without thinking much
Instinctively As per habit

Without thinking anything and as per his habit, he gave the child to nurse. He gave his all attention to mother. The mother was unconscious. Her pulse was almost silent. She had not yet come out of effect of anesthesia.

His haste was desperate, a frantic race against her ebbing strength. It took him only an instant to smash a glass ampule and inject the medicine.

Word Meaning
Haste Hurry
Desperate Urgent,
Frantic Eager, Urgent
Ebbing Decreasing, Reducing
Ampule A vial that contains injectible medicine

He was in a hurry because he was worried about health of Susan and her baby. His own strength was reducing because he had not slept during the whole night. In an instant he took out an injection and broke the glass. He injected the medicine to Susan.

Then he flung down the hypodermic syringe and worked unsparingly to restore the flaccid woman.

Word Meaning
Flung down Threw down
Hypodermic syringe Device used for injecting medicine
Unsparingly Without showing kindness
Flaccid Not firm, Almost lifeless

He threw the syringe to the floor. Without showing any mercy to himself or to the woman, he stared working to treat the almost lifeless woman.

After a few minutes of feverish effort, her heart strengthened; he saw that he might safely leave her. He swung round, in his shirt sleeves, his hair sticking to his damp brow.

Word Meaning
Feverish Hectic, Desperate, Frantic
Damp Wet

After some minutes of desperate efforts her heartbeats increased. She was now out of danger. So Andrew thought he can give attention to the baby now. He turned around. He was wearing a shirt with sleeves. His hair were sticking to his wet eyebrow. He was sweating.

“Where’s the child?”

The midwife made a frightened gesture. She had placed it beneath the bed.

Word Meaning
Gesture Signal
Beneath Below

Andrew asked where was the child. With great fear the maid signaled toward beneath the bed. She had put the child under the bed. The child was dead.

In a flash Andrew knelt down. Fishing amongst the sodden newspapers below the bed, he pulled out the child. A boy, perfectly formed. The limp, warm body was white and soft as tallow.

Word Meaning
In a flash In one go, Quickly
Fishing Searching
Sodden Totally wet, Drenched
Limp Loose,
Tallow Fat of animal

Quickly Andrew knelt on the floor. He searched for the child among the wet newspapers placed below the bed. It was a boy. It was soft, warm, white. It was as soft as the fat of an animal.

The cord, hastily slashed, lay like a broken stem. The skin was of a lovely texture, smooth and tender. The head lolled on the thin neck. The limbs seemed boneless.

Word Meaning
Cord Attachment from navel
Slashed Cut
Stem Stalk
Tender Soft
Lolled Hung
Limb Parts of body

The cord of the baby was cut in a hurry. It was looking like a broken stem. The skin was beautiful, smooth and soft. The head was resting on the thin neck. The limbs of the body were very flexible as if without any bone.

Still kneeling, Andrew stared at the child with a haggard frown. The whiteness meant only one thing: asphyxia, pallida, and his mind, unnaturally tense, raced back to a case he once had seen in the Samaritan, to the treatment that had been used.

Word Meaning
Haggard Tired, Exhausted
Frown Twist one’s eyebrows
Asphyxia Suffocation, Not able to breathe
Asphyxia Pallida Condition of being unconscious due to suffocation with paleness of skin
Mind raced back Quickly thought of
Samaritan An establishment for help

Andrew was still kneeling on the floor. He was looking at the child. His eyebrows were bent. He understood from the whiteness of the child that it was suffering from asphyxia pallid. He was not able to breath and had become yellow. He immediately recalled the treatment he had given at one of the charitable institute.

Instantly he was on his feet.

“Get me hot water and cold water,” he threw out to the nurse. “And basins too. Quick! Quick!”

“But, Doctor—” she faltered, her eyes on the pallid body of the child.

“Quick!” he shouted.

Word Meaning
Instantly Immediately
Threw out to Shouted at, Gave orders
Faltered Hesitate
Pallid Yellow

Immediately Andrew got up. He ordered nurse to fetch hot water, cold water and two small tubs. The nurse was still looking at the pale body of the child. She hesitated a bit. But Andrew shouted at her to be quick.

Snatching a blanket, he laid the child upon it and began the special method of respiration. The basins arrived, the ewer, the big iron kettle.

Word Meaning
Respiration The method of giving breaths
Ewer A large jug

Andrew pulled a blanket. He laid the child on it. He started the special method of giving breaths to the child. The tubs, big jug and an iron kettle were brought by the nurse.

Frantically he splashed cold water into one basin; into the other he mixed water as hot as his hand could bear. Then, like some crazy juggler, he hurried the child between the two, now plunging it into the icy, now into the steaming bath.

Word Meaning
Splash Pour
Bear Tolerate
Crazy Enthusiastic, Desperate
Juggler One who tosses things quickly
Plunge Dip

With lot of eagerness, he poured cold water into one tub. In the other tub he poured hot water. The water was hot to the extent his hand could tolerate it. Then like a juggler, he placed the child alternately in cold water and hot water.

Fifteen minutes passed. Sweat was now running into Andrew’s eyes, blinding him. One of his sleeves hung down, dripping. His breath came pantingly. But no breath came from the lax body of the child. A desperate sense of defeat pressed on him, a raging hopelessness.

Word Meaning
To breath paintingly With short quick breaths
Lax Still, Motionless
Raging Angry, Furious

He continued to do this for 15 minutes. Andrew started sweating. He was now puffing. Sweat had started entering into his eyes. But the child did not start breathing. He was still motionless. A feeling of defeat was now coming to Andrew. It was an angry feeling of big loss of hope.

He felt the midwife watching him in stark consternation, while there, pressed back against the wall where she had all the time remained —her hand pressed to her throat, uttering no sound, her eyes burning upon him —was the old woman.

Word Meaning
Stark Great,
Consternation Anxiety, Hopelessness
Uttering Speaking

Andrew could feel that the nurse was looking at him with great anxiety. While the mother of Susan had remained close to the wall. Her hand was close to her throat. Her eyes were constantly looking at Andrew. She did not speak even a single word.

He remembered her longing for a grandchild, as great as had been her daughter’s longing for this child. All dashed away now; futile, beyond remedy…

Word Meaning
Longing Desire
Dashed away Ended
Futile Ineffective, Useless
Remedy Treatment, Fulfillment

Andrew remembered the strong desire of the old woman to have a grandchild. Susan too had a strong desire to have child. Now all the hopes appeared to have ended. These hopes did not exist now. These hopes could not be fulfilled. There was no hope or treatment.

The floor was now a draggled mess. Stumbling over a sopping towel, Andrew almost dropped the child, which was now wet and slippery in his hands, like a strange, white fish.

Word Meaning
Draggled Dirty with water
Stumbling Holding with trembling hands
Sopping Totally wet, Dripping

Lot of water had spread on the floor. The floor looked dirty. His hands were shaking. He almost dropped the child from the wet towel. The child had become as slippery as a fish.

“For mercy’s sake, Doctor,” whimpered the midwife. “It’s stillborn.” Andrew did not heed her.

Word Meaning
Whimpered Spoke in a low voice
Stillborn Born dead
Heed Listen, Care, Pay attention

The nurse said in a very low voice to Andrew that the child was born dead. Andrew did not pay any attention to her.

Beaten, despairing, having laboured in vain for half an hour, he still persisted in one last effort, rubbing the child with a rough towel, crushing and releasing the little chest with both his hands, trying to get breath into that limp body.

Word Meaning
Despairing Without any hope
Laboured Worked hard
In vain Without success
Persist Continue, Insist

After working hard for about an hour, Andrew felt as if he were beaten. He did not have any hope now. But he continued to do one more last effort. He rubbed the child with a towel. He pressed the chest of the child and then released the pressure. He was trying to give breath (life) to the motionless body of the child.

And then, as by a miracle, the pigmy chest, which his hands enclosed, gave a short, convulsive heave, another… and another… Andrew turned giddy.

Word Meaning
Pigmy Small
Convulsive Violent, Jerk
Heave Breath
Giddy Faint, Dizzy

Just at that moment, by a miracle, there was some violent movement in the little heart of the child. It was sign of the  child taking a breath. Andrew could feel the movement of chest through his hands. Then there were many more such movements. Andrew almost fainted.

The sense of life, springing beneath his fingers after all that unavailing striving, was so exquisite it almost made him faint. He redoubled his efforts feverishly. The child was gasping now, deeper and deeper.

Word Meaning
Springing Jumping
Unavailing Unsuccessful
Striving Efforts
Exquisite Special
Feverishly Energetically, Frenetically
Gasping Taking short breaths, Puffing, Panting

The feeling of life under his fingers after so many unsuccessful attempts was very special to Andrew. He almost fainted with joy. He increased his efforts with lot of energy. The child was now panting and puffing.

A bubble of mucus came from one tiny nostril, a joyful iridescent bubble. The limbs were no longer boneless. The head no longer lay back spinelessly. The blanched skin was slowly turning pink.

Word Meaning
Mucus Some form of liquid
Iridescent Shining
Blanched Yellowish

A bubble of liquid came out of one tiny nostril of the child. The doctor was very happy to see the shining bubble. The parts of body did not feel boneless. The head was was hung from the neck. The yellow skin was slowly becoming pink.

Then, exquisitely, came the child’s cry.

“Dear Father in heaven,” the nurse sobbed hysterically. “It’s come —it’s come alive.”

Word Meaning
Sobbed Cried
Hysterically Uncontrollably, Not in control

Then came a special cry from the child. The nurse thanked the almighty God. She started crying without any control on herself. She said the child has become alive.

Andrew handed her the child. He felt weak and dazed. About him the room lay in a shuddering litter: blankets, towels, basins, soiled instruments, the hypodermic syringe impaled by its point in the linoleum, the ewer knocked over, the kettle on its side in a puddle of water.

Word Meaning
Dazed Unable to think, Greatly surprised
Shuddering Many pieces
Litter Things thrown here and there, Rubbish, Refuse
Soiled Dirty
Impaled Stuck, Pinned
Linoleum Type of cloth
Puddle Small pool or collection of a liquid

Andrew gave the child to the nurse. He was feeling week. He was not able to think anything. Lot of things were scarred around the room. The blanket, dirty instruments, syringe pinned to a cloth, ewer etc were lying in the pool of water.

Upon the huddled bed the mother still dreamed her way quietly through the anaesthetic. The old woman still stood against the wall. But her hands were together, her lips moved without sound. She was praying.

Word Meaning
Huddled Not arranged properly, Disorderly

On a disorderly bed, Susan was still unconscious because of the effect of anesthesia. Her mother was still standing near the wall. Now her hands were together. She was praying silently.

Mechanically Andrew wrung out his sleeve, pulled on his jacket.

“I’ll fetch my bag later, nurse.”

Andrew straightened sleeves of his short. He wore his jacket. He told nurse that he will collect his bag after sometime.

He went downstairs, through the kitchen into the scullery. His lips were dry. At the scullery he took a long drink of water. He reached for his hat and coat.

Word Meaning
Scullery Wash area for utensils and cloths

Andrew came out of the bedroom and went to ground floor. Through the kitchen he went to the wash area of the house. He drank a large quantity of water. He took his hat and coat from there.

Outside he found Joe standing on the pavement with a tense, expectant face.

“All right, Joe,” he said thickly. “Both all right.”

It was quite light. Nearly five o’clock.

Word Meaning
Expectant Eager
Thickly In a heavy and deep voice

Outside the house Joe was standing on the pavement. He was tense and eager to know. Andrew said in a heavy deep voice that baby and Susan both are safe. Sun rays had started falling on the earth. Day was emerging. It was about five in the morning.

A few miners were already in the streets: the first of the night shift moving out. As Andrew walked with them, spent and slow, his footfalls echoing with the others under the morning sky, he kept thinking blindly, oblivious to all other work he had done in Blaenelly, “I’ve done something; oh, God! I’ve done something real at last.”

Word Meaning
Spent Tired
Oblivious Not aware of

Some people working in the mine had already come to the street. They were going to their workplace. The night shift had come to the end. Andrew was slowly walking with them. He was tired. His footsteps were producing an echo. He kept thinking about today’s work. He had become unaware of other works done by him in the town of Blaenelly. He thought that he had done a good work for the first time.



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