The Ogress & the Two Orphans: NBSE class 9 Alternative English

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This folk story is from the Chakesang and the Angami tribes. The story The Ogress and the Two Orphans is about two orphan brothers who lost their parents when they were very young. They decided to trap animals and birds to sustain themselves. A few years later, they saw that the animals and birds in their traps were missing their heads. Something was eating off the heads of the animals and leaving the bodies intact.

They decided to find out what it was and discovered that it was actually an ugly-looking ogress. But before they could harm her, she did a magical spell. The brothers started to see the ogress as a good-looking woman of loving nature. She told them that she was their relative and took them to her village, crossing a big river with the help of her charm. They lived within the house of the ogress and her husband and were not allowed to go out. They were also made to sleep separately at night. The older brother believed in the ogress but the younger brother had doubts.

One night, the younger brother overheard the ogre and the ogress talking about how they would eat the brothers after they got a bit fat. The ogre didn’t want to wait, but the ogress asked him to wait. He told the older brother about this the next day, but he didn’t believe it. They, however, changed their places of sleeping and the older brother slept that night in place of the younger brother to hear the conversation of the ogre and ogress. On the first night, he could hear nothing, but when they did the same thing the second night, he could hear them talking about eating them.

The two brothers decided to run away as soon as the ogre and the ogress went to the field the next day. They stole all the charms of the ogre and ran away. They used one of the charms to part the river and cross it. The ogre and ogress tried to catch them but failed. The villagers were very happy to see the brothers back, as they thought they were killed by the ogre and the ogress. In the wake of their safe return, the entire village was overjoyed and they celebrated “Deliverance Day.”

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Textual questions and answers

Explain with reference to context

1. This was proved when one night the younger boy, in the room of the ogress, overheard the conversations between the ogress and her husband.

a. What was proved?
b. What happened in the conversation that the younger brother overheard?
c. Did the younger brother tell the older one what he overheard?

Answer: a. The ogress claimed that she was a relative of the two boys. The elder brother had complete faith in her but the younger brother had some doubts. He doubted that they were not related to her and her intention was evil. That night what the younger brother thought was proven right.

b. The younger brother overheard the conversation between the ogress and her husband about eating them up. He first thought that the old woman was talking in her sleep but when the truth dawned upon him his hair stood on end and he could not get a wink of sleep that whole night.

c. Yes, the younger brother did tell the older one what he overheard.

Answer these questions briefly

1. How did the Ogress alter the boys’ perception of her with a magical spell?

Answer: The old woman appeared with unkempt and dishevelled hair, biting off the heads of the birds in the trap, leaving the bodies intact. Initially, the boys were frightened to see the clumsy and untidy look of the ogress, but she cast a magical spell on the two brothers. Under the influence of the magical spell, they found her good-looking and of a loving nature. She made them believe that she was a relative of theirs and had been looking for them for a long time. Thus, with a magical spell, the ogress altered the boy’s perception of her.

2. Does the ‘fattening’ of the boys remind you of a similar incident in a fairy tale from another part of the world? Can you recall the story?

Answer: Yes, the ‘fattening’ of the boys in the story The Ogress and the Two Orphans remind us of the story of ‘Hansel and Gretel.’

Hansel and Gretel were brother and sister who were left in the woods by their father and stepmother. After they could not find their way back home, they found a hut in the jungle that was made of gingerbread, chocolate, and candies. They were hungry and started eating. The hut belonged to a witch who grabbed the children and put Hansel into a cage. She forced Gretel to do the work of the house. The witch wanted to fatten Hansel before eating him, so she tried to force-feed him. But every time the witch tried to know how fat Hansel had grown by touching his fingers, Hansel would throw a stick. The witch had poor eyesight, so she could not see properly. One day, she decided to eat Hansel without waiting anymore and asked Gretel to check if the oven is hot enough. Gretel pretended like she didn’t understand what the witch was saying. The witch tried to show Gretel how to check the oven by going near it. At that time, Gretel pushed the witch into the fire, and both the children ran away from the house. They were later reunited with their father, who was looking for them.

Answer these questions

1. Explain the phenomenon of the ‘missing heads?’ What does this tell the reader about the direction of the story?

Answer: The recurring and unexplained disappearance of the trapped birds’ heads sets the stage for a mysterious and suspenseful narrative. It introduces an element of the unknown and hints at the presence of a supernatural or malevolent force, guiding the story towards a confrontation with this entity.

2. Identify elements of the folk tale that characterise ‘The Ogress and the Two Orphans.’ You can refer to the note below before you write your answer.

A folk tale is a short narrative handed down through oral tradition, with various tellers and groups modifying it and adding to it. Most folktales eventually move from oral tradition to written form. The content offolktales includes myths, legends, fables, tall tales, ghost stories, humourous anecdotes and fairy tales. (A Handbook to Literature’ by C Hugh Holman)

Answer: Several elements characterize this folktale:

  • Oral Tradition: The story is rooted in the oral storytelling tradition of the Chakesang and Angami people, passed down through generations.
  • Supernatural Being: The presence of the Ogress, a malevolent supernatural creature, adds a fantastical element to the narrative.
  • Themes of Good vs. Evil: The story explores the classic conflict between good (the orphaned brothers) and evil (the Ogress and Ogre).
  • Magic and Charms: The use of magical charms by the Ogress to control the river and influence the boys’ perception adds a layer of enchantment and wonder.
  • Transformation: The boys’ journey from vulnerability to independence and their escape from the Ogress’ clutches represent a transformative experience.
  • Cultural Context: The tale reflects the cultural beliefs and practices of the Chakesang and Angami people, including their customs related to hunting, community support, and the significance of oral storytelling.

Think and answer

1. Why didn’t the Ogress kill the brothers at once when she met them?

Answer: The Ogress did not kill the brothers immediately because she wanted to fatten them up before consuming them. 

2. Why do you think the Ogress made the brothers sleep in different rooms?

Answer: The Ogress likely separated the brothers at night to prevent them from communicating and potentially discovering her true intentions. By isolating them, she aimed to maintain control and prevent any collaboration or resistance.

3. What is the message of this folktale?

Answer: The folktale conveys several potential messages:

  • The Importance of Family and Community: The story emphasizes the value of support systems, as the brothers initially rely on their relatives and community for survival.
  • Resourcefulness and Resilience: The brothers demonstrate resourcefulness and resilience in adapting to their circumstances and ultimately escaping from the Ogress.
  • The Dangers of Deception: The Ogress’s deceitful nature serves as a warning about the dangers of trusting appearances and the importance of discernment.
  • The Triumph of Good over Evil: Ultimately, the story reinforces the belief that good can overcome evil, offering a message of hope and perseverance.

Going Beyond

1. What is the relevance of the story of ‘The Ogress and the Two Orphans’ to students today? Write an essay of 150 words, sharing your views.

Answer: “The Ogress and the Two Orphans” offers timeless lessons for students today. The brothers’ initial trust in the Ogress highlights the importance of critical thinking and skepticism, urging us to question appearances and motives. Their escape showcases resourcefulness and resilience, reminding us to utilize our skills and inner strength when facing adversity. The tale also underscores the value of community, as the brothers rely on their village for initial support and celebrate their return together. These themes equip students with essential tools for navigating life’s challenges: a discerning mind, a resilient spirit, and the strength found in unity. As we journey through our own experiences, this folktale reminds us to approach situations with caution, tap into our inner strength, and value the support systems around us.

2. If you could get a magic charm, what would you use it for? Write your answer in a short paragraph.

Answer: If I were granted a magic charm, I would use it to promote understanding and empathy among people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This charm would foster open-mindedness and encourage individuals to appreciate different perspectives, ultimately leading to a more harmonious and inclusive world. By breaking down barriers and fostering connections, the charm would contribute to a global community where differences are celebrated and respected.

3. Does the ‘fattening’ of the boys remind you of a similar incident in a fairy tale from another part of the world? Can you recall the story?

Answer: The “fattening” of the boys in this folktale bears a striking resemblance to the story of Hansel and Gretel, a German fairy tale. In both narratives, children are captured by a malevolent supernatural being (a witch in Hansel and Gretel) who intends to fatten them up before consuming them. Both stories also involve the children’s cleverness and resourcefulness in outsmarting their captor and ultimately escaping their perilous situation.

Extra MCQs

1. How did the two brothers initially plan to earn their livelihood?

A. By cultivating land and growing paddy B. By taking to trapping animals and birds C. By working for their relatives D. By begging for food

Answer: B. By taking to trapping animals and birds

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10. What did the villagers think had happened to the brothers when they went missing?

A. They had been kidnapped by bandits B. They had run away from the village C. They had been eaten by the Ogress or the Ogre D. They had drowned in the river

Answer: C. They had been eaten by the Ogress or the Ogre

Extra questions and answers

1. How did the two brothers decide to earn their livelihood?

Answer: They decided to take to trapping animals and birds as a means of livelihood. With the help of the villagers, they constructed a small hut for themselves and started living separately there. Right from the beginning, they became successful trappers, catching enough for their sustenance.

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10. How did the two brothers manage to escape from the clutches of the Ogress and Ogre?

Answer: One day, after the old woman went off to the field, the two brothers decided to escape. The younger brother immediately rushed into the Ogress’ room and picked up all the charms which the Ogress had. The two dashed into the jungle with all the charms tightly held in their palms. After they had covered a certain distance, they came out onto an open path and ran as fast as their feet could carry them. Several hours later, they came to the big river. They were bewildered as to how to use the charms. After many attempts, they succeeded in using the right charm and the river parted. Soon enough, the two brothers crossed the river comfortably and went over to the other side of the bank.

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