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Telephonic Conversation PDF Free Download
Chapter 4: Telephonic Conversation
The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. ‘Madam,’ I warned,
‘I hate a wasted journey—I am African.’
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurised good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick-coated, long gold-rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was, foully.
‘HOW DARK ?’… I had not misheard… ‘ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK ?’ Button B. Button A. Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis—
‘ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?’ Revelation came.
‘You mean—like plain or milk chocolate?’
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. ‘West African sepia’—and as an afterthought,
“down in my passport.” Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness changed her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. ‘WHAT’S THAT?’ conceding
‘DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.’ ‘Like brunette.’
‘THAT’S DARK, ISN’T IT?’ ‘Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
The rest of me. The palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blonde. Friction caused—
Foolishly madam—by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black—One-moment madam!’—sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears—‘Madam,’ I pleaded, ‘wouldn’t you rather
See for yourself?
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 English Chapter 4 Telephonic Conversation
1. State the central issue in the poem.
The central issue revolves around the ironical fact that when a person is in need of shelter, the questions asked are based upon his colour of skin and not the actual questions exchanged like that of the amenities provided, rent and other fundamental needs in an apartment. Racist behaviour is possessed by the landlady in the poem and ironically, the poet is sorry for something which he was born with. Differences between what really is and what appears to be develops a sense of verbal irony which helps the poem to depict the absurdity of racism.
2. There are intervals of silence in the interaction between the landlady and the prospective tenant. What are the reasons for this?
There are intervals of silence in the interaction between the landlady and the prospective tenant. The reason was the inferior feeling of the landlady in the face of the poet and understood her lack of knowledge when compared to the poet’s scholarly intellect. The unexpected silences in the poem emphasize the effect of the race of Africans being revealed to the landlady. The landlady’s ignorance is portrayed with a sense of humour on a subtle level.
3. How is colour highlighted in the poem and why? List all the words in the poem that suggest colour.
The different colours highlighted in the poem explain the variations between the poet and the landlady according to their skin colour. The red colour used describes the different things which contain the red colour like the double-tiered bus, the telephone booth and the pillar box. It depicts the dark-skinned colour of the poet who was not fair like the landlady. The expression ‘gold-rolled’ explains the class to which the ‘fair-skinned’ people belong to.
The different colours used in the poem are – Black, Red, Milk Chocolate, Gold, Blonde and Brunette.
NCERT Class 11 English Textbook Chapter 4 With Answer PDF Free Download