CBSE Class 12 English - Memories of Childhood
The common theme of the stories: Both the stories are autobiographical episodes from the lives of these women from marginalized communities who look back on their childhood and reflect on their mainstream culture. The stories portray the struggles in the lives of these women and the atrocities they faced in their childhood.
The Cutting of My Long Hair
About the Author: Zitkala - Sa was a writer, editor, musician, teacher, and political activist. She wrote several works chronicling her youthful struggles with identity and pulls between the majority culture and her Native American heritage.
The theme of the story:
- It throws light on the issue of racial discrimination and the inhumane attitude towards women in the society.
The story begins when the author is telling about her experience in the boarding school which was in the land of apples. The children were assigned a task of picking up apples in the bitter and biting cold. When she went to the breakfast hall she was feeling very nervous and stressed. Being new she was not familiar with the table manners and this made her even more anxious.
While the author was looking around in the hall a pale-faced woman was already staring at her strangely and this made her feel insulted and alarmed at the same time. Her friend Judewin who knew only two or three words of English warned her that she overheard the paleface woman intended to cut her long, black hair. This terrible warning made the author remember what her mother told about people who had short hair that among them only the unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy.
Short hair was worn by mourners and shingled hair by cowards. But the author decided to resist and fight back and not let them cut her hair so easily so she went upstairs and crawled under the bed and huddled herself in the dark corner. She heard the footsteps nearby and shuddered with fear.
Finally, she was found and dragged out, she resisted by kicking and scratching wildly but despite that, she was taken downstairs and tied fast in the chair and her thick braids were cut. The author lost her spirits and she realized that the day she had been taken away from her mother she had suffered extreme indignities like tossing her in air like a wooden puppet or the people’s stare and now after her long hair was shingled like a coward’s she cried a lot but nobody came to calm, console her and comfort her.
We Too Are Human Beings
About the Author: Bama is a Tamil, Dalit feminist, committed teacher and novelist. In addition to this, she has written twenty short stories.
This excerpt from the autobiography ‘Karukku’ by Bama, the story describes the behavior of people towards the lower caste. It also ends on the positive note that the author had decided to study hard to finish this discrimination.
The author tells through the story that she was in her third grade when she first heard of the word untouchability. She was a happy girl and once when she was going back home from school on the way she noticed her people working hard for their landlords but despite working so hard for them they are beaten so badly. It actually took ten minutes to cover the distance from her school to her place but she took at least thirty minutes to reach home because she would watch all the fun and games, novelties and oddities in the shops and the bazaar.
Along with watching the performing monkey or the snake charmer’s snake and a lot of other things that would attract her, She notices that an elderly person from her community was carrying packet in his hand but was holding it in a very strange manner just with the strings and she finds this incident funny.
Later, her brother explains to her that the incident was not at all funny as she initially thought, but very pathetic because the lower caste people were treated as untouchables. Hearing this she was shocked and decided to study hard to overcome discrimination.