Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of the chapter “The Queen of the Village” by Jim Corbett 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: Originally published in Corbett’s My India collection, “The Queen of the Village” painted a portrait of the ruthless hunter as harbouring a kind and tender soul. The story is told from the first-person perspective by an anonymous narrator, whom we can safely assume is Jim Corbett. In this tale, Corbett aspires to give the reader a bird’s-eye view of the hill station of Cheena, where the terrain has been carefully terraced to make farming more manageable. As much as it enhanced the area’s natural beauty, it was a tough, risky job for the strong people who lived there. Typically, they would use cattle, goats, and short shafts for this. The inhabitants of this town took refuge from natural disasters in their uniform rows of stone houses covered in slate roofs, where they lived a simple life.
After painting a vivid picture of the area and its people, we learn that Corbett was familiar with the area because the locals had sent an urgent telegram to Nainital pleading for help against a man-eating tiger. They did this because the tiger had attacked a mother and daughter while they were harvesting wheat in the middle of the day. The girl’s head was found near her mother’s feet, and the rest of her body was taken by the tiger to the nearby jungle.
Soon after, the tiger killed another woman. Nainital’s male residents this time banded together and succeeded in driving the tiger. The locals wrapped the body in a heavy blanket and hung it from the highest branch of the 30-foot rhododendron tree. This was done to remove any potential food sources from the tiger’s vicinity. Concerns were also voiced to Corbett’s sister, Maggie, as widespread panic, anger, and fear ensued.
Maggie assembled a crew of male helpers to build a machan and watch for the tiger. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before they discovered that the tiger had returned, scaled the tree, and stolen the corpse. Once again, the men showed remarkable bravery by chasing the tiger for half a mile before coming across the half-eaten body. After much deliberation, they settled on constructing the machan in an oak tree high above the body. An Indian sportsman from Nainital who knew Corbett interrupted the group’s preparations by saying he was going to sit up for the tiger himself.
This sportsman juggled the lantern until it fell to the ground and caught fire because it was a dry May. The fire caused the sportsman to flee the scene in a panic, leaving his coat behind. Even after eight hours, the fire was only put out by a heavy downpour of rain.
The narrator finally reached the village and was brought to the location of the rhododendron tree, where he saw the marks on the blanket, bark, and ground that indicated that the tiger made multiple attempts to reclaim his kill before finally succeeding. The narrator searched for more evidence but found nothing because the fire had reduced everything to ashes.
Eventually, he was able to find and shoot the tiger, but five lives were lost in the chaos that ensued. After killing the man-eating tiger, the narrator went to the house of the village chief, who had recently died. His wife and daughters, who belonged to the Brahmin community, went above and beyond in their domestic duties to provide him with a hearty, regional meal. The women did not cover their faces. The speaker emphasised India’s complex and fascinating caste system, in which the Brahmins were known as “the salt of India’s earth” and Western colonialists like Jim Corbett were referred to as “White Sadhu.”
When discussing this system in greater depth, the speaker made hints about the evolution of the hill people’s way of life. The high cost of goods and the persistence of the dowry system. The speaker abruptly shifted his focus to discussing the general atmosphere of the Nainital bazaar by describing a bania’s shop that sold a variety of goods, including fresh brewed and simmering milk tea that was served throughout the day; atta, rice, dal, ghee, salt, stale sweets; potatoes, turnips; cigarettes; matches; kerosene oil; and so on. We are not only told about the store but also about the people who frequent it, most of whom are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
From what we have been told, it appears that the people who live in the Kumaon region are humble yet fiercely proud people who are not only hardworking and brave but also the very definition of hospitality. Because of the respect the hill people showed him during his time there, the speaker seemed to have felt a renewed sense of purpose and excitement for living.
I. Answer these questions in one or two words.
1. In which tree was a machan put up?
Answer: The machan was put up on an oak tree.
2. Where is Mokameh Ghat?
Answer: Located in eastern Bihar on the banks of the Ganges, it was once a major hub for moving people and goods throughout the rest of India.
3. Who is the ‘White Sadhu’?
Answer: The ‘White Sadhu’ in this context is Jim Corbett.
4. Who is the bania’s first customer?
Answer: The bania’s first customers were a young boy and his younger sister, both of whom were proud owners of a single pice.
5. How many pice makes an anna?
Answer: 12 pice was equal to one anna.
II. Answer these questions in a sentence or two.
1. How do the villagers plough the narrow fields?
Answer: Driving a herd of purebred cattle or goats through the hills with a short shaft.
2. Describe the dress of a high caste hill woman.
Answer: A high-caste hill woman’s attire includes a solid gold band around the neck, several thin gold rings in the upper cartilage, and a gold ring, five inches in diameter, dangling from her nose and supported in part by a thin gold chain looped over her right ear. Her ensemble includes a shawl, a bodysuit made of warm fabric, and a full sprint skirt.
3. How did the tiger kill its first victim?
Answer: Twelve-year-old girl was the tiger’s first victim; she was attacked out of nowhere, and the animal mutilated her body before carrying it off into the jungle and leaving her severed head near the feet of her crying mother.
4. What items are sold by the bania in his stall?
Answer: Atta, rice, dal, ghee, salt, stale sweets, potatoes, turnips, cigarettes, matches, and kerosene oil were among the items for sale at the bania’s stall.
5. How do the inhabitants of Kumaon village get news from the outside world?
Answer: The telegram, the radio, and the knowledgeable packmen are the primary means by which the people of Kumaon village stay abreast of world events.
III. Answer these questions briefly.
1. Describe the episode involving the sportsman from the time of his arrival at the machan to his departure.
Answer: The men of the village were scheming to kill the beast when they came across a sportsman from Nainital who was on a shooting spree in the area and claimed that he knew Corbett. Since everyone respected Corbett, he was listened to without question when he decided to sit up for the tiger instead of the men in the machan and ordered the men to leave the scene. The sportsman relaxed after hearing the news that the tiger was no longer in the area. It was then that the sportsman messed with the lantern, causing it to fall to the ground and catch fire. Since May is a dry month, the blaze quickly spread and was difficult to put out. The sportsmen ran from the scene, leaving behind his coat, after seeing the massive fire, without worrying about being eaten by the man-eating tiger. The fire persisted for eight hours despite everyone’s best efforts, and it was only put out by a torrent of rain.
2. Would you agree that, through the bania and his customers, Corbett presents a snapshot of life in a typical Kumaon village? Write a reasoned answer.
Answer: Corbett succeeded in painting an accurate portrait of village life in Kumaon through his description of the bania’s shop and the people who frequent it. The majority of the bania’s customers come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, but despite their hardships, Corbett shows them to be a proud and tolerant group who value peace and unity above all else and who are both courageous and appreciative of the little things in life.
3. Describe the two instances when the villagers display bravery and courage.
Answer: The villagers showed their courage twice, both times after the tiger had abandoned the body of its hunt. Fearing that the free tiger would return to claim his kill, the villagers wrapped the body in a heavy blanket and hung it from the highest branch of a thirty-foot rhododendron tree. The second incident occurred when the tiger snatched the body parts from the tree. Recognising this, the men continued to follow the drag for another half a mile, despite the animal’s likely intention to attack. Both times, the villagers displayed remarkable bravery, considering they were helpless without any weapons to defend themselves against the dangerous beasts.
4. Why did the villagers send Corbett a telegram? Why did it take him so long to arrive at the village?
Answer: The villagers desperately needed help from Corbett to stop the man-eating tiger that was wreaking havoc in their midst, so they sent him a telegram. Unfortunately, Corbett’s response time was prolonged by the fact that telegrams take a long time to deliver, even when they’re urgent. In addition, Corbett’s journey was arduous after he received the telegram; he had to travel a thousand miles by rail and road, and the final twenty miles had to be covered on foot. Because of the weather, Corbett wasn’t able to make it for another week.
IV. Answer these questions in detail.
1. Do you think that ‘The Queen of the Village’ is an appropriate title? Discuss.
Answer: Considering that the threat was being posed by a Royal Bengal Tigress and that the name itself has the word “royal” in it, I agree that “The Queen of the Village” is a fitting title. More than that, she was the focal point of daily life in the village, influencing how people behaved and what they did. Her negative impact on the villagers’ daily lives was substantial, and she was nearly impossible to catch. Therefore, I agree that the title is a perfect fit.
2. It is generally held that Corbett was very sympathetic in his portrayal of the hill people. Do you agree? Write a reasoned answer.
Answer: The story “The Queen of the Village” proves that Corbett was sympathetic in his depiction of the hill people; in it, he gives a vivid portrait of the inhabitants of a Kumaon village, spanning generations and social classes, who, despite facing prejudice and oppression, are able to maintain attitudes of gratitude, hospitality, goodwill, and affection toward outsiders. This was due to his personal interaction with these people, the majority of whom came from economically disadvantaged backgrounds but who nevertheless maintained respect for and a sense of brotherhood with nature, animals, and their fellow humans.
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