Grandmother Summary And Important Questions and Answers

Class : 12 Heritage of Words – Grandmother Summary

1. My Grandmother – Ray Young Bear

If I saw her far away, I would immediately know it was her because I would see her purple scarf and plastic shopping bag. If I felt her hand touching my head, I would know they were her hands because they feel warm and wet and they smell of roots. If I heard a voice coming from a rock, I would know it was her voice. I would hear her words and it would be like, someone stirring a dying fire. Grandmother summary

# Grandmother Summary

Ray Young Bear, in his poem “Grandmother,” remembers his dead grandmother who was the source of love and guidance for him. He tries to recall her creating vivid images that provide us a brief insight into the relationship between them. Grandmother summary

The poet describes that the appearance of his grandmother was so familiar to him that he would recognize her though she was miles away. She was very loving to him and used to visit the market carrying a plastic shopping bag and purple scarf. His grandmother was very affectionate towards him. She used to bless him with her warm hands that had the smell of his own roots. He feels the lack of her presence and is lost in the images of her appearance. The absence of his grandmother highlights his feeling and attachments towards his own culture in which he grew up. But he is living in such a place where he is unable to find out the indigenous culture of the Mesquaki tribe.

The writer further describes that if the voices could come from the grave, he would recognize the words of his grandmother, and the words would flow inside him that would be the guidelines for him to lead his life. By presenting the picture of his dead grandmother, the poet is trying to search for the American Indian’s identity that has been disappearing slowly and gradually forever.

# Grandmother Summary 1

American-Indian poet Ray Young Bear in his poem Grandmother describes his grandmother using similes, metamorphose and sense verbs. Depicting (pointing) a portrait (image) of the grandmother of his tribe, the poet also reveals (shows) the socio-economic status of the Mesquaki tribe to which he belongs to.

The grandmother of the poet is the source of love and inspiration for him. As the poet was closely associated with his grandmother, her image is evergreen in fresh in his mind if the poet saw his grandmother from a far distance he would instantly recognize her because of her purple scarf around her neck and plastic shopping bag in her hand. If the grandmother touches his hand was of his grandmother only because they would feel warm and damp with the smell of root. This indicates the poet’s poor financial state which made the grandmother work in the field despite her old age. If the poet heard a voice coming from the rock, he would immediately know that the voice was of his grandmother as it would blow inside him like a light and warm on stirring a dying fire at night. The words would be inspiring for him as they would activate his inner feeling making the loving memory of his grandmother evergreen and very fresh.

The poet is successful in drawing the picture of his grandmother which is appealing to our senses. Deviating (going away) from the usual grammatical rules and rules of the poetry, the poet has used small letters in the entire poem to draw the attention of the readers. The poet also reveals the socio-economic status of the ‘Mesquaki’ tribe to which he belongs.

# Grandmother Summary 2

In this poem, the poet traces a picture of his grandmother who is no longer with him. The poet talks about her nature, love, and the inspiration that she has imparted to him. According to the poet, even from a distance away, he could easily recognize his grandmother because of the purple scarf that she wears around her head and the plastic shopping bag that she usually carries. If his grandmother puts her hands on his head, then he could easily know that they were her hands because of their warmth that would give him a feeling of proximity with her. And her words would flow inside his heart like someone stirring the ashes from a fire.

In this poem, the poet reminisces about his childhood and his grandmother who has already passed away. Whenever we feel cold, we stir the fire so that warmth could penetrate us. A similar feeling used to be felt by the poet because of his grandmother who did inspire him a lot. But now, since she has gone, the poet only has her nostalgia. This nostalgia of his grandmother inspires him even today to become industrious and ensures the path towards the acme of success.

Ray Young Bear’s grandmother used to be a respected person of the Native American Mesquaki Tribe. Due to the domination and the suppression of the white Americans, this tribe was once on the verge of extinction. The poet has wonderfully crafted this poem with a view to acquiring a distinct identity for himself and for the Meskwaki tribe. Thus, we can also get a voice against the tyrannies of those white Americans in this poem.

In a nutshell, poet Ray Young Bear presents a sweet remembrance of his late grandmother and simultaneously, searches for a distinct identity to the Mesquaki tribe in this poem. This is where the appreciation statement of the poem lies.

# Important Questions & Answers

Q1. What images do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and Fox (Meskwaki) Indian tribe of North America ? To what senses do these images appeal ?

Ans: There are various images used in the poem, for example, ‘purple scarf’, ‘plastic shopping bag’, ‘warm and damp hands with the smell of roots’, ‘voice coming from the rock’ and ‘a sleeping fire at night’. All these images are closely related to the activities and lifestyles of Mesquaki tribal people. Most tribal people do not have the opportunity to enjoy a fairly rich and luxurious life. They buy ordinary stuff in a small amount. As they have to survive on natural plants, it is natural that their hands smell roots which they use as food. Similarly, rocks and night flies are also non-separable parts of tribal life. All these images used in the poem are very much appealing because they provide a rural and rustic setting to the poem. These images give a realistic impression and make the poem very much life-like.

Q2. How does the speaker have feelings towards his grandmother? In what words or lines does he make his feeling clear?

Ans: The speaker has an affectionate and respectful feeling towards his grandmother. He describes his grandmother in such a way that she becomes the source of love and inspiration to him. He expresses his warm and intimate feeling to her through the words like feeling her ‘warm and damp hands’ and ‘her words would flow inside me like the light’. Here, the grandmother’s words are compared with the light of sleeping night fire, which lightens the darkness when it is recovered by removing the ashes. This means that her words lighten the darkness of his life and show the right path to truth, love, and goodness.

Q3. What are the four things the poet remembers about his grandmother ?

Ans: Mainly, the poet remembers her purple scarf, plastic shopping bag, warm deep hands and her voice. He says that he would even know her from miles away because of her shape. He carries her memory every time and feels that she is still with him though it has been long since her death.

Q4. What is the main idea of the poem ‘Grandmother’ by Ray Young Bear ?

Ans: Love makes one’s sense organs very sensitive and one can recognize a loving by using only anyone of the sense organs. This is the main idea of writing this poem.

Q.5 What sense verbs does the poet use to describe his grandmother ?


How does the poet look towards his grandmother ?

Ans: The poet has very affectionate and most respectful feelings towards his grandmother. His description of his grandmother in the poem using various poetic devices reveals that she is the source of love and inspiration for the poet. He seems to be strongly guided by the inspiration of his grandmother it is his close association with the grandmother that inspires him to recognize, feel and understand her even from a far distance without looking at her appearance his imagination of blowing words of a grandmother from the rock entering inside him, enlightened him removing the darkness of his life. These words also inspire him to move forward enthusiastic way. The poet has an evergreen and fresh memory of the grandmother which is a highly motivating factor of his life. The poet this poem is devotedly guided and inspired by the loving memory of his grandmother.

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