A Simple Philosophy

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Get here the summary and notes of NBSE class 9 English chapter A Simple Philosophy. However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.

SUMMARY of A Simple Philosophy: In this chapter, A Simple Philosophy, the chief of the Suquamish Tribe, a Red Indian tribe of the north-west of America, is talking about an offer that the “white man” has sent to the tribe. It is a letter written by Chief Seathl (also spelt Chief Seattle) in 1860 in response to the offer.

Chief Seathl here talks about the offer of the white man to buy the lands that belong to the tribe. The chief says that it is a very strange idea to sell the land because the land is not theirs. They don’t own the land, but the land is a part of the family. The land and everything about the land is sacred to the tribe. They treat the lands, animals, birds, trees etc. part of the family. He, however, understands that if they don’t sell the land, the white man (white Americans) will attack them with their superior weapons and guns and will cause death and destruction. So the chief decides to sell the land.

He however asks the white man to teach their children to take care of the land and everything about it like family members.

Read and Write

1. Why does Chief Seathl accept the white man’s offer?

Answer: Chief Seathl accepted the white man’s offer because he knew that if he would not accept the offer, they would March into their lands and occupy it by force.

2. ‘The clatter only seems to insult our ears.’ What is Chief Seathl trying to say?

Answer: Chief Seathl means that he is always disturbed due to constant rustling and bustling of urban life.

3. ‘All things are connected.’ In what context does the Chief say this?

Answer: The chief means that all living and nonliving things are connected like the blood which unites our family.

4. What does the author want the white man to teach his children?

Answer: In A Simple Philosophy, he wants the white man to teach his children to treat rivers like their brothers and if they sell their land, they must give the rivers the kindness they would give to their brothers. He further asks him to teach his children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of the tribe’s grandfathers. So that they will respect the land. He asks him to teach his children what they have taught their children that the earth is their mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

5. What does the author hold sacred to his tribe?

Answer: According to the author, every part of the earth, the ashes of their fathers that are part of the rivers and land are secured to the tribe.

6. How does the author explain man’s relation to his environment?

Answer: According to the author, man’s relation to his environment is sacred. He and every part of the earth are like brothers and sisters and are entwined like a family. All creatures give and take birth and as such, all are bound to each other. If anything happens to animals or any of the creatures, it affects humans too. Everything on this earth is linked.

7. The red man has always retreated before the advancing white man, as the mist of the mountain runs before the morning sun. Why does the author say so? What does it convey about the relationship between the tribal people and the white man?

Answer: The author says so because the white man has been relentlessly invading and defeating the tribes owing to the superior arms and also trickery.

The white man and the tribal people were at loggerheads over the ownership of resources that were actually the legacy of the tribal people. They shared a bitter relationship.

8. What is the author’s concept of ownership?

Answer: The author feels that one cannot buy or sell something one does not own. He finds it strange that the White man wants to buy their land sins according to him, land, air, water, birds, animals, etc., cannot be bought or sold.

9. The value of land cannot be measured. Pick up words and phrases that convey this.

Answer: The words and phrases that convey this message are “bought or sold”, “brothers”, “sisters”, “sacred”, “holy”, etc.

10. Discuss the relevance of these words, written more than a century back, in the present-day context.

Answer: These words, written more than a century back, are as much relevant today as they wear a hundred years ago. Just like the white man in A Simple Philosophy chief Seathl was talking about, men today continue to fight for the resources to fulfill the greed of having more power and riches and men does not care about the lives of other animals or any other creatures as long as their greed is satisfied. This greed has led to disputes and wars, bloodshed and death and history is being repeated over and over.

Think and Write

1. What is Chief Seathl’s belief regarding the ownership of land?

Answer: In A Simple Philosophy, Chief Seathl’s belief regarding the ownership of land is that one cannot buy or sell the land as one cannot own it and the idea of buying and selling of the land is strange to him. For him and the tribe, the land is, for the tribe, more than what the white man can understand. For the tribe, the land and everything about it is sacred and part of the family and so when the white man wishes to buy their land, he asks much of them and so it would not be easy for them to give up.

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