The Slave’s Dream: NBSE Class 11 Alternative English summary, answers

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Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, pdf of the poem The Slave’s Dream 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.

The Slave’s Dream

Summary: Poems on Slavery by H.W. Longfellow are considered to be so gentle that even a slaveholder might read them without losing his appetite for breakfast. The Slave’s Dream is based on a series of dreams had by a slave during the nineteenth century.

The opening stanza of the poem depicts the physical aspect of a slave. He falls asleep because he is fatigued from all of the labour he needs to do on the fields. This final slumber is punctuated by a succession of oneirisms that represent his waking desires. The expressions “ungathered rice” and “sickle in his hand” indicate that he has left his given duty incomplete due to his extreme exhaustion. His bare breast depicts the barrenness of his slave life, while his matted hair “buried” in the sand represents death creeping over his worn body.. As he sleeps, he sees his once again “Native Land” in his dream.

The poet vividly describes his dream beginning with the second stanza. The phrase “lordly Niger” informs us that he was born in Africa. “Once more a king he strode” leads us to believe he was the ruler of a tribe in his homeland. He dreams of his freedom days, and he almost hears the “tinkling caravans/Descends the mountain road” in his sleep.

His family is introduced in the third stanza. He mourns the loss of his “dark-eyed queen” and his children. He fantasises about how they would clasp his neck, kiss his cheeks, and take his hand in theirs. His fantasy is so intense that he tears in his sleep and throws useless teardrops upon the sand before being absorbed.

We see how he regards his life as a free man in the fourth stanza. He imagines himself riding a horse at “furious speed,” with golden chains as bridle reins and smites his sword on the sides of his stallion.

The fifth stanza is a continuation of the fourth, in which he envisions himself following the flight of flamingos across the tamarind-growing plains. Through his subconscious, he recalls the “caffre huts” and the ocean.

In the sixth stanza, he dreams of the lion’s roar, the hyena’s cry, and himself breaking reeds while listening to the river horse make a sound “like a glorious roll of drums” as it passes. His dream is a success since it provides him with a sense of freedom and contentment.

The seventh stanza depicts how his mind’s forests, with their “myriad tongues,” yell forth his soul’s desire – liberty. The roar of the turbulent “blast of the desert” echoes through his being, causing him to wake up with a smile.

The author returns to the physical condition of the slave in the eighth verse, who now lies numb and stupid in his death, not feeling the “driver’s whip” or the “burning heat of the day.” His soul has achieved freedom from the bonds of his body as a result of his death.

Throughout the poem, the poet employs graphic elements — visual, auditory, and tactile — to effectively describe the slave’s lovely “native land” and to create a pathos-filled mood. Slavery is metaphorically emancipated from the slave’s domination in his dream, and lastly through death. Finally, the poem elicits a range of feelings. We feel both joy and sadness for the slave as his soul transcends sorrow and achieves freedom via his death. Though not free in actual life, his last slumber and the visions of liberation produced reveal that he vanquished his bondsman existence at least on the level of consciousness.

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A. Answer the following questions briefly.

1. How is the slave introduced to the reader in the first stanza?

Answer: The slave is introduced in the first stanza as a reaper sleeping near the “ungathered rice” with a sickle in his hand. His breasts were exposed, and his “matted hair” had been buried in the sand. In his sleep, he fantasises about his native land.

2. In the second stanza, he is striding along at a normal pace. What does this indicate? 

Answer: It implies that the slave was once a king, and he fantasises about himself striding magnificently across the plain. under the palm palms

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5. Why is the lifeless body referred to as ‘fetter’?

Answer: The slave’s lifeless corpse is called to as ‘fetter’ since he finally obtains freedom via his that. His soul breaks and discards the “worn out” chain of enslavement.

B. Critically analyse the following lines and answer the questions with reference to the context.

1. He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
Among her children stand:
They clasped his neck. they kissed his cheeks,
They held him by the hand!

a. What relation does the slave’s share with the dark-eyed queen?

Answer: The slave’s wife is the dark-eyed queen.

b. Who had surrounded the queen?

Answer: The queen had been surrounded by their children.

c. Why do the queen’s children clasp his neck and kiss them!

Answer: To express their devotion for him, the queen’s children gripped his neck and kissed him. This demonstrates the slave’s warmth and intensity of affection for his family.

2. Before him, like a blood-red flag.
The bright flamingoes flew:
From mom till night he followed their flight,
O’er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,

a. Why are the flamingoes referred to as „a blood-red flag‟!

Answer: The poet employs an analogy to depict how the flock of red flamingos resembles red flags, which represent freedom.

b. Over which areas did the flamingoes fly?

Answer: The flamingos flew from the plains where the tamarind grew until they could see the ocean.

c. What do the roofs of the Caffre huts indicate?

Answer: The roofs or Caffre huts represent the Caffre tribes’ colonies or settlements. The poet fantasises about the days when he was free, chasing flamingos from one end of his kingdom to the other.

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C. Answer the following questions in detail.

1. Do you get the impression that the slave’s earlier life was glorious? Why?

Answer: Yes, we get the impression that the slave was once a king and lived a beautiful life before being abducted as a slave. We learn about his prior life from a sequence of nightmares he experienced while lying next to the ungathered rice. He fantasises about himself as a king. He is no longer bound by the chains of servitude and is free to do as he pleases. He walks magnificently through the palm-lined plains. He walked forth once more like a king. He fantasises about his own country, where he is an adored king. With youngsters wrapped around his neck and a love of life. I kissed him on the cheeks and took his hand in mine.

While he was dying, the king recalls his golden past and the unfathomable delight that freedom brings. He recalls riding his horse at breakneck speed along the hank of the Niger River. The reins and bridle were fashioned of gold. His regal ride portrayed him as a great warrior with suspensor courage. The way he rode the horse with the steed scabbard clanking as the horse galloped was a sight to behold.

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3. Freedom is the core theme or this peon. Do you agree?

Answer: Yes, freedom is the central idea of “The Slave’s Dream.” Throughout the poem, the slave’s deep-seeded earning for emancipation from slavery can be evident. His desire for independence is reflected through a series of nightmares. When he realises that achieving bodily independence and liberty is unachievable, he seeks refuge in his dreams. The desert and the woodlands are personified, each uttering a triumphant cry of liberation. The forest of his dreams is home to a “myriad tongues.” The desert, on the other hand, “blasts” a chain to unrestricted freedom. It struck the dreaming guy so strongly that the sheer potential of such a wild and free voice sparked his imagination. That each gleefully, perhaps foolishly, evokes the possibility of if there were no chains, no boundaries. It implies that an individual’s physical bondage does not always determine his subjectivity.

For the slave, there is no clear way to freedom. Nonetheless, his vision of freedom is one of ultimate and absolute independence. The slave smiles, knowing that he is free in his fantasies. The slave yearns for this freedom, for this reckless abandon. The sound of the forest and the desert introduces the slave’s thoughts of wildness and liberation. The happiness he finds in his dream is the final point between his dream and death, and it is only through death that he will be able to gain true freedom.

Extras/additional questions and answers/solutions

1. What was the slave doing at the start of the poem?

Answer: The slave was laying near a field of “ungathered” rice at the start of the poem. He has a sickle in his hand, which he appears to be using to harvest the crops.

2. Which passage in the poem demonstrates that the slave was a special individual in his home country?

Answer: “They clasped his neck, kissed his cheeks, and held him by hand,” reveals that the slave was a special person in his homeland.

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5. What caused the slave to smile in his dream?

Answer: When people get together and raise their voices in support of freedom. At this point in the dream, the slave smiles at the prospect of freedom and liberty spreading throughout the landscape.

6. Why didn’t the slave feel the whip of the driver?

Answer: Because his body was motionless, the slave did not feel the driver’s whip. He had arrived in the region of sleep.

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