The Letter ‘A’: NBSE Class 11 Alternative English summary, solutions, pdf

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the letter 'A'

Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, pdf of chapter 1 The Letter ‘A’ of NBSE Class 11 Alternative English. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

Summary: Christy Brown describes how, in his autobiography “The Letter A,” he overcame his massive handicap through willpower, firm determination, and the unwavering support and love of his mother.

Christy Brown was the tenth child born into a family of twenty-two. His head would constantly fall backwards when his mother tried to feed him when he was four months old. His hands became clenched and twisted unnecessarily as he grew older. He couldn’t even hold the bottle’s nipple because he couldn’t open or close his mouth freely. He could only sit at six months by resting his back on the mountain of pillows. All of these symptoms alarmed his mother, prompting her to seek medical attention.

He was both mentally and physically deficient, according to the doctors. However, she was adamant that her son was not mentally retarded despite his physical disability. She was a strong-willed woman who adored Christy as much as her other normal children. She tried to care for him on her own, filled with true motherly love.

He couldn’t sit or speak even when he was five years old. His body parts were ineffective. His mother would show him pictures of animals and flowers and have him repeat them back to her. She hoped that Christy would at the very least learn to communicate with others. Despite her relatives’ warnings not to take the boy seriously, she was determined to show that he was not mentally retarded.

A wonderful event occurred one day that completely altered his life. He was drawn to the yellow chalk that his brother and sister were using to write on the black slates. With his left foot, he unconsciously snatched the chalk from his sister’s grasp. He cradled it between his toes and scribbled haphazardly on the slate. Every member of the family was intrigued. When his mother saw this, she knelt in front of him and drew a single letter “A” on the floor in front of him, instructing him to copy it. He gave it a shot with the chalk. It resulted in a crooked line. He tried again, this time drawing two sides of the letter. The chalk erupted. He wanted to throw the chalk and give up. But, with his mother’s encouragement, he mustered the courage to write the letter A. 

Christy’s mother recognised that when he wrote the letter A, it was a sign of intelligence rather than an imitative gesture because he had done it with great effort. As a result, tears streamed from her eyes. This had paved the way for him to achieve mental freedom. He could use words to express his desires and thoughts. As a result, he was able to break down the barrier that separated him from others.

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A. Answer the following questions briefly

1. Why did the author remain unnamed for some time?

Answer: For a while, the author went unnamed because he couldn’t be baptised until his mother was well enough to take him to church.

2. What was the diagnosis of all the doctors who examined Christy?

Answer: Christy was diagnosed as an imbecile and categorised as a hopeless case by the doctors. They assured his mother that there was nothing they could do for him.

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5. What was Christy’s key to the new world?

Answer: Christy’s key to the new world was the letter “A” he scrawled on the floor with broken yellow chalk and gripped between his toes. It would be the key to his mental liberation.

B. Answer the following questions in detail

1. The first letter that Christy ever learnt was the letter ‘A’. At another level do you think that the letter was indicative of the start of a new life for Christy?

Answer: The letter ‘A’ that Christy first learned to scribble was symbolic of the beginning of a new life for him. Christy’s birth and life up to the age of five years filled the family and his life with great misery due to cerebral palsy. All of the doctors who examined him said he was a hopeless case and that nothing could be done for him. 

People thought he was mentally ill and that there was no hope for him in such a case. It was impossible to find a cure, and he was beyond saving or even hope of survival. Regardless of what others thought of him, his mother was convinced that his mind was normal. She refused to accept the truth that Christy was a moron, and she knew without a doubt that he had a sound mind.

She also worked tirelessly to demonstrate her faith. Finally, when Christy scribbled the letter “A,” a new world opened up for him with his key to mental freedom. Despite his disabilities, the writing of the letter marked the beginning of his success in life. He did not accept his condition as fate, but instead saw it as a challenge and went on to become a famous writer, painter, and poet.

2. Though the Brown family were not sure about Christy’s condition they were determined to rear him as a normal child. What impact does this have on him in his growing years?

Answer: When everyone, both relatives and doctors, wrote off Christy’s recovery, his family, particularly his mother, stood by him, investing all of their efforts in him with the firm belief that his mind was not as crippled as his body. His mother’s historic decision to take matters into her own hands and treat Christy on par with the other children had a significant positive impact on his life. When he was nearly defeated by his condition, his mother was by his side, assisting him in fighting all of his foes and inspiring him with new strength. His mother slowly and patiently drew down the wall that appeared to be erected between him and the other children. He was their child, and thus a member of the family. His family surrounded him as he lay crooked, showering him with love and hope. He was never isolated or labelled as the “queer one.” His family cheered, inspired, and supported him at every step of his success. Only with their encouragement and support was he able to complete his task of writing the letter ‘A.’ So, even though he was imprisoned in his own world, unable to communicate with others, he was able to overcome his loneliness with the help of his family.

3. Very often we tend to seek professional support when it comes to children with disabilities. But children learn through observing and imitating their peers and siblings. Do you agree?

Answer: Yes, we frequently seek professional assistance when it comes to children with disabilities, but children learn primarily by mimicking their peers and siblings. A lot of learning happens inadvertently. This is referred to as observational learning in psychology. This type of learning is also known as shaping, modelling, and vicarious reinforcement. While it can occur at any age, it is most prevalent during childhood as children learn from their brothers and sisters and the peers with whom they interact. Christy grabbed the chalk from his siblings Mona and Paddy and scribbled the letter ‘A’ after watching them write the sums onto an old chipped slate. He did it by observing and imitating. As a result, we must seek more than just professional assistance for children with disabilities; they must also be associated with peers and siblings from whom they can learn.

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6. Write four adjectives for Christy’s mother. Pick out examples from the text to illustrate why you think she had these qualities.

Answer: Christy’s mother can be described using the following adjectives:

a) Consistent, b) Determined, c) Selfless, and d) Persistent

a. Consistent: She swam against the current despite all obstacles and discouragements. She consistently waited for him to write the letter “A,” even though he was bound to fail.
b. Determined: When doctors and relatives advised her not to hold out hope for his recovery, she seemed determined to prove that he was mentally normal.
c. Selfless: She developed a rigid sense of selflessness as a result of her love for her son. When her friends and family pointed out that she would be making a mistake if she treated the boy the same way she treated her other children, she decided to be on his side and help him fight the odds.
d. Persistent: She never gave up hope on the boy, even when he showed no sign of responding despite her repeated attempts to compel him to respond to her persuading questions.

Extras/additional questions and answers/solutions

1. How did Christy’s mother find out about her son’s physical disability?

Answer: Christy’s mother noticed he couldn’t support his head when he was four months old. His head had a habit of reverting backwards. Bridget concluded “there was something wrong with me,” according to Christy, and several years later he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Although Brown’s biographer Christina Hambleton outlines that doctors in 1930s Ireland considered cerebral palsy a difficult condition to understand, cerebral is Latin for a part of the brain and palsy is paralysis. Brown’s cerebral palsy affected his movement and posture, so his doctors and extended family advised Bridget to place him in care. Christy’s mother, on the other hand, decided to raise Christy at home.

2. ‘The doctors were so very sure of themselves that mother’s faith in me seemed almost impertinence. ‘

a. What was Christy’s mother’s opinion of him?

Answer: Christy’s mother believed that he was not an imbecile, despite what the doctors told her. She took him in her arms. She was adamant about treating her child on the same level as other normal children. She believed that his body, not his mind, had been shattered. She adored him and had faith in him.

b. Why is her trust in him referred to as impertinence?

Answer: Her faith in him is described as impertinence because she refused to accept the expert opinion of doctors and specialists that he was mentally retarded. She treated him as if he were a normal child. She believed that his body, not his mind, had been shattered.

3. Despite what doctors and specialists told her, Christy’s mother refused to accept that he was mentally retarded. What does this reveal about her personality?

Answer: It demonstrates that she was a positive person. Her upbeat attitude led her to believe that her son could not be completely paralysed. She adored him and had faith in him. She didn’t think her son could be fed, washed, and then put away. She believed Christy’s disability was a social construct, the result of negative attitudes or physical barriers that could be overcome. To her, it was his body, not his mind, that had been shattered.

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8. Why was everyone in the room tense when they saw Christy trying to write?

Answer: Everyone in the room was taken aback when he held a piece of chalk between his toes and attempted to write. Everyone, with the exception of Christy’s mother, thought he was an idiot with no intelligence. But when they saw Christy holding a piece of chalk and attempting to write, it seemed almost impossible for them. They were both excited and nervous because everyone was waiting to see how Christy’s struggle would end.

9. What do you think was the deciding factor in Christy achieving the “impossible”?

Answer: Christy accomplished the impossible simply because his mother allowed him to express himself. His mother did not give up hope but instead fought for him. She was instrumental in shaping him in the right direction. She did not listen to the doctors, relatives, or friends who told her that her son was mentally retarded. She adored him and had faith in him. Christy, she thought, was not an idiot. She took Christy into her own hands and treated him the same way she treated others. To her, it was his body, not his mind, that was crippled. She removed all of the impediments in his path. She spent hours with him, showing him pictures, telling him the names of animals and flowers, and giving him her undivided attention.

10. What did the writer’s mother notice about Christy after he was four months old?

Answer: When the writer’s mother attempted to feed him, his head fell backwards. She was unable to correct it by placing her hand on the back of his neck. She noticed his hands clenched almost all of the time as he grew older. His jaws would either lock together tightly or become limp and fall hanging, dragging his mouth to one side, preventing him from grasping the teat of the battle. He couldn’t sit up without a number of pillows behind him when he was six months old. It was the same when he was twelve months old. The mother began to be concerned about her son. She informed her husband, and they consulted with specialists.

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