Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of chapter 7 “The Captive” of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 11 (first year) Alternative English (Seasons) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: Harekrishna Deka describes the highlands of Assam as a romantic setting in his short story “The Captive,” which presents a complex story about two men cycling through the region. Both men, who seem to be complete opposites, appear to be having a good time here in the natural setting. While the younger, unnamed boy, who senses no danger from soldiers or security, decides to take a dip in the stream to cool off from the summer’s oppressive heat and humidity, the old, unnamed man, who is also the story’s narrator, waits for the youth under a tree. We learn that the older man is actually a victim and the youth a kidnapper.
The older man seems concerned about something: a shoulder bag. Even though we know the bag contains a gun, the two men don’t seem to be afraid of each other or their surroundings. Both the youth and the unnamed narrator seem to have been held captive by blind trust: the former believes that the victim wouldn’t let him go because he is afraid of what is in the bag, and the latter never tries his luck, despite numerous opportunities to do so. From the perspective of the unnamed narrator, the abductor, a young man, appears to be a prisoner at the end of the gun’s metal barrel. When soldiers and security personnel approach them, the lifeless gun mutely controls their relationship and causes fear in both men.
After relaxing by the water for a while, the two men continue their journey to a new, distant village, where they are welcomed as guests by the village headman and his family. The villagers’ economic conditions are terrible. Due to the discovery of their previous hideout by security forces, the arrangement has to be made quickly. They are welcomed by the headman’s hospitality, which includes a well-cooked, simple meal and a clean room for their stay, so neither man feels an overwhelming sense of fear, threat, hostility, or oppression from the other. There is a growing sense of brotherhood and camaraderie between the two men.
Because of the mutual trust between them, the kidnapper frequently leaves his captive to tend to other business, and the captive never takes advantage of the situation to free himself. This response exemplifies the narrator’s peaceful acceptance of captivity. However, the two do not always work together so well. The unnamed narrator was physically restrained in the early days of his captivity and experienced a range of emotions, including fear, agitation, helplessness, and insecurity during the seven months he was held captive, the last three of which he documented in a notebook purchased by his abductor.
The narrator then proceeds to describe in great detail how he was kidnapped by four young men armed with guns, who dragged him from his own car. After that terrifying experience, the young man was put in charge of keeping an eye on him at all times. The abductors aren’t motivated by personal vengeance; rather, they are out to prove a point to the imperialist powers within their own country. As a result, they use state terrorism as a revolutionary tactic to overthrow the government they see as “illegitimate”. In contrast, the narrator has great faith in the government. The hostage is never abused verbally or physically by the captors, who see him as a minor sacrifice standing in for the oppressive security measures put in place by the government. But because they have to constantly change locations to avoid being caught by the authorities, the narrator feels empty, hopeless, and depressed during this time. The kidnappers don’t care about his anxiety; they are too busy celebrating the devastating blow they think they dealt to the government’s authority. This is due to the fact that they identified the narrator with the government, just as he identified each of them as a miniature symbol of terrorism.
The narrator had doubts about his safety in the beginning until the arrival of the young man, who is unlike the previous guards because he makes decisions on his own, rather than waiting for orders from above. He is well-versed in English, Assamese, and the languages of his people, and he speaks them fluently. Rather than being a source of fear, his lack of guard-like behaviour becomes a sign of confidence. Their conversations about literature, the outdoors, rural life, agriculture, and farming all reflect a teacher-student dynamic.
The narrator also describes a time when he suddenly became very ill with a high fever and how the young man tirelessly took care of him. Actually, he anxiously fetched a doctor, administered his medication on time, heated water for him to bathe in, sponged him down, cold-compressed his forehead, and cleaned his faeces. After that, they became friends, with the narrator jokingly asking what would happen to him if the government didn’t agree to their conditions, and the other person responded by saying the narrator would have to join the organisation. This helped ground their unconventional relationship in something more familiar to outsiders.
The exhausted captive naps in the locked room of the headman while remembering these events. Soon, however, he hears noises that lead him to the conclusion that the local village has been attacked by government forces. They attempt an immediate escape but are caught. After this, gunfire erupted and the village descended into chaos as men ran for cover, screamed, and ducked under fire. Eventually, all the “enemies,” including the young man, are killed, and the “heroes” celebrate the successful rescue of the narrator, whom we are introduced as Captain Batra. The narrator is relieved to be saved, but he is also saddened by the death of the young man.
I. Answer these questions in one or two words.
1. Where is the place that is described at the beginning of the story?
Answer: The highlands of Assam is the place which is described at the beginning of the story
2. Who took a dip in the water?
Answer: The younger man (the abductor) took a dip in the water.
3. What were they travelling by?
Answer: They were travelling by bicycle.
4. In whose house was the captive kept?
Answer: The captive was kept in the house of the village headman.
5. Which bird does the captive think of?
Answer: The captive thinks of the kingfisher.
II. Answer these questions in a few words.
1. What is referred to as the “object” by the captive?
Answer: A loaded gun is referred to as the “object” by the captive
2.. What is the food offered to the captive in the headman’s house?
Answer: The food offered to the captive in the headman’s house was parboiled rice mixed with chicken curry.
3. How did Captain Batra offer his respects to the boy?
Answer: Captain Batra stood next to the boy’s body after he had been shot, and the boy showed respect by touching Batra’s cap with his hand.
4. What did the boy say he would do if the circumstances changed?
Answer: The young man initially claimed he would force the narrator to join the organisation but later claimed that he would be forced to have the narrator put to death.
5. How did the captive know that the bay was highly educated?
Answer: The captive was aware of the boy’s extensive education because of his fluency in English, Assamese, and tribal languages and his knowledge of literature, writers, the natural world, farming, and rural life.
III. Answer these questions briefly.
1. What is the nature of the relationship between the captive and the young man?
Answer: While their personalities were very different, the two men grew closer as a result of the “constant companion” that was the gun. A mutual trust existed between the two men, as evidenced by the abductor’s willingness to release his captive on numerous occasions so that the latter could attend to his other responsibilities; the latter, however, never used this to his advantage and remained under constant surveillance. This response exemplifies the narrator’s peaceful acceptance of captivity. Plus, they had a mutual teacher-student dynamic as they talked about literature, the outdoors, country living, farming, and more.
2. How does the captive come to understand the meaning of “Freedom Fighters”?
Answer: As the captive watches his captors bravely battle the security forces, he begins to grasp what it means to be a “freedom fighter.” The captors’ organisation was opposed to the government, which they saw as the embodiment of “imperialist power,” and this opposition was the larger cause.
3. How did the captive record his movements in captivity?
Answer: The captive, after being granted permission to do so, records his daily activities in captivity in a notebook brought by the young man.
4. How did his abductors treat the captive?
Answer: Their captive was never subjected to physical or verbal abuse, but he was tortured emotionally by being kept in a state of constant fear, helplessness, agitation, anxiety, and emptiness.
5. Why does the captive feel that his abductor is not free?
Answer: The fact that the abductor, like the captive, was a prisoner of the gun, caused anxiety for both of them, giving the captive the impression that his abductor was not truly free.
IV. Answer these questions in detail.
1. Comment on the significance of the title of the story. Does it refer only to the abductee?
Answer: At first glance, the title of the story, “The Captive,” might seem to refer to the person who is being held captive in the story, Captain Batra. However, if we think about it more, it refers to both the young man and the person telling the story. Over the course of their time together, the narrator and the young man form a bond that makes them trust each other and feel good when they’re together. The symbolic gun is a key part of what keeps them together, and by keeping them together, they become captives of each other until the young man is shot and killed, so the story’s title is very fitting and has a lot of significance.
The title doesn’t just refer to the abductee but also to the abductor. This is because the person who took him has formed a bond with him and can’t leave him, both because he trusts him and because he wants to change the world. So, they are each other’s captives.
2. Write about the journey undertaken by the captive and the young man.
Answer: After the authorities found their previous hiding place, they were forced to relocate to a poor and isolated tribal village. They had to cycle a long distance on a scorching summer day, which left them exhausted. Because of this, they stopped for a rest by a stream, where the young man swam while the narrator watched from the shade of a tree. After this, they continued on to the house of the village headman, where they hid until the unexpected attack of the security forces, who rescued the narrator (Captain Batra) while killing the youth.
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