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Chapter 6: Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Adrienne Rich (1929) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She is widely known for her involvement in the contemporary women’s movement as a poet and theorist.
She has published nineteen volumes of poetry, three collections of essays and other writings. A strong resistance to racism and militarism echoes through her work.
The poem Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers addresses the constraints of married life a woman experiences.
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 English Chapter 6 Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
1. How do ‘denizens’ and ‘chivalric’ add to our understanding of the tiger’s attitudes?
Like the beasts of prey, the denizens of the forest are the tigers. They lead their lives far from the human settlements and are known as ‘chivalric’. This highlights the honorable and majestic position they occupy in the animal world. So, the usage of the words ‘chivalric’ and ‘denizens’ adds to our knowledge of the attitude of the tiger.
2. Why do you think Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering through her wool’ in the second stanza? Why is she finding the needle so hard to pull?
Aunt Jennifer is weaving the tigers on a panel. With her hands moving about the wool, she is finding it difficult to pull the needle. The heaviness of years of married life is lying on her hand which makes it hard to pull the needle.
3. What is suggested by the image ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’?
The image of the ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’ suggests the weight of the tough and harsh experience of the married life of Aunt Jennifer. The image is suggestive and the wedding band is symbolic. It indicates the marriage bond which is unbreakable between the wife and the husband.
4. Of what or of whom is Aunt Jennifer terrified within the third stanza?
The poet refers to the ‘terrified hands’ of Aunt Jennifer” in the third stanza. The unhappy memories which are old remain fresh in her mind. During her married life, she has gone through many horrible times and tests. These ordeals suppressed and crushed her, the effect of which is still visible. She is stuck with the ordeals which dominated her life.
5. What are the ‘ordeals’ Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word ‘ringed’? What are the meanings of the word ‘ringed’ in the poem?
The marriage experiences are addressed by the poet in the middle of constrictions. The word ‘ringed’ suggests that her unhappy married life or vicious grip is still holding her tightly. The word ‘ringed’ is used in two ways. First way is the conventional use where the ring symbolises the sacred bond of marriage. The second way is the figurative use of ‘ringed’ which means surrounded or encircled.
NCERT Class 12 English Textbook Chapter 6 Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers With Answer PDF Free Download