 In this poem the poet focuses on the theme of social injustice and inequalities.  He presents the pathetic and miserable picture of the elementary classroom in a slum.  These children have pale and lifeless faces.  They are like rootless weeds which are uncared and unwanted with their disorderly hair torn around their faces.
 They are depressed and oppressed with the burdens of life and keep their heads down. They have stunted growth.
 They inherit the diseases of their father.  Some of them do have dreams. A sweet young boy is sitting at the back of the dim classroom. He is dreaming of a squirrel’s game in the trees and probably other interesting things.
 The walls are dirty and creamy and on them are hung the donations given by and also Shakespeare’s portrait.
the rich
 A civilized dome found in the cities and Tyrolese valleys with beautiful flowers are also put up.
 The map on the wall shows the children, the beautiful world outside; but for these children of the slum it is meaningless.
 The children studying in these schools do not have the means to go and explore the world. For them what they see through their classroom windows, the narrow street and the lead sky is the world.
 Shakespeare is wicked for them as he has written only about the rich, beautiful world tempting them to steal.
 The map is of no interest to them because it does not reflect the world they live incramped and dark lanes.
 Their lives start in darkness and ends in utter darkness.  They are undernourished and their poverty has distorted their vision as they spend their whole time in foggy slums.
 The poet feels that the map which shows beautiful and exotic places should be replaced with slums as it is not the world they live in.
 Unless the governor inspector and visitor play a vital role in bringing about a change, their lives will remain in dark.
 The slum children will be able to peep through the window only when the gap between the two worlds is bridged.
 They should break the barriers till they come out of the dirty surroundings and their world should be extended into the green fields, golden sands and bright world.
 They should have the freedom of expression and their outlook be broadened.

 For, only the educated and learned people can create history whose language has strength and power.

  1. “Unless, governor, inspector, visitor, This map becomes their window and these windows That shut upon their lives like catacombs.”
    (a) Why does the poet invoke ‘governor, ‘inspector’ and ‘visitor’? The poet invokes the ‘governor, ‘inspector’ and ‘visitor’ because they are the powerful people who can bring about a drastic change in the miserable lives of the slum children. They can remove the social injustice and class inequalities.
    (b) What does ‘this map’ refer to? How can it become ‘their window’? This map refers to the beautiful world of the rich. Their window refers to holes and the stinking slums of the unfortunate children of the slum. This can become their window only when the difference between the two worlds is abridged.
    (c) What have ‘these windows’ done to their lives?
    These windows have cramped their lives, stunted their physical and mental growth shutting them inside filthy and dingy holes, keeping them away from the vast world of development and opportunities .
    (d) What do you understand by catacombs? Catacombs are long underground graves. Here they stand for the dirty slums which blockin which the slum children are confined.
    (e) Which literary device has been used here ? Explain. Simile has been used here to describe the oppressive effect of the surroundings on their pathetic lives. The slum walled in against the world of opportunities and development is similarised to

Answer the following in 30-40 words.

1. What is the theme of the poem? This poem deals with the theme of social injustice and class inequalities. The poet presents it by talking of the two different and incompatible worlds- the world of the rich and the civilized and the world of the poor and the deprived. This gap can be bridged by the administrative authorities and through education.

  1. ‘So blot their maps with slums as big as doom’. What does the poet want to convey? The poet is angry at the social equalities in the world. There are two worlds – the dirty slums and the prosperous and the beautiful world of the rich. The poet wants the map of the world should also have blots of slums as big as the ‘doom’. In reality he wants the gap to be reduced.
  2. ‘History is theirs whose language is the sun’. Explain.

This statement means that those who have the courage and conviction to break free from the constraints of life are the ones who create history. One can make a mark only if one can outshine others. Education only can give them power and strength like the sun which will bring about a
change in the lives of the people.

QUESTIONS FOR PRACTICE B. Read the stanza and answer the questions that follows:

”Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, the map a bad example, With ships and sun and love tempting them to stealFor lives that turn in their cramped holes From fog to endless nights.”
i) Name the poem and the poet ii) Why has Shakespeare been described as wicked? iii) Why is the map a bad example? iv) What tempts them to steal? v) How do the children continue to live? vi) Explain: ‘From fog to endless night.’
C. Read the stanza and answer the questions that follows:
“The stunted, unlucky heir Of twisted bones, reciting a father gnarled disease His lesson from his desk. At the back of the dim class
One unnoted , sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream Of squirrels game, in tree room, other than this.”
a) Who is being referred to in the first two lines? b) Explain ‘father’s gnarled disease’. c) Who sit at the back of the class? How is he different from others? d) Explain his eyes live in a dream? e) What is the comparison drawn with squirrels game?

  1. What is that these children inherit from their parents? What does it signify?
  2. 2. How has the poet described the colour of the wall and why?
  3. 3. The poet presents two different worlds. What are they?
  4. 4. What picture of the slum children does the poet draw?
  5. 5. Where does the poet see hope and relief?
  6. 6. What does the poet mean by saying, ‘Let their tongue run naked into books’?
  7. 7. How does the poet bring to light the brutalities of slum life
  8. Explain ‘Open handed map, awarding the world its world’.
  9. In what way are the slum children unsung fighters?
  10. 10.How does the poet see the children as victims of social injustice?