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AUNT JENNIFER’S TIGERS-Question and answers

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

 

Q.1 Why are the tigers called ‘Aunt Jennifer’s tigers?’

Ans.The tigers are knitted by Aunt Jennifer and therefore they belong to Aunt Jennifer and they behave fearlessly just as Aunt Jennifer had taught them. Moreover, they are different from other tigers.

Q.2.Where do the tigers prance to?

Ans. The tigers prance up to the higher branches of tress in a wild green forest that is drawn on a panel or canvas.

Q.3.What is topaz? How is it descriptive to the tiger?

Ans. Topaz is a kind of precious yellow stone. The yellow color signifies the bright yellow fur of the tiger. The feminine beauty of the tiger is well represented by the ornate topaz color and the black stripes running through it.

Q,4. How are Aunt Jennifer and her tigers the indicators of the poet’s own life?

Ans. Adrienne Rich’s life and poems were dedicated to the freedom of the suppressed American women. Aunt Jennifer is no one else than Adrienne Rich while her tigers are the new generation of American women.

Q.5Who are they in these lines?

Ans. They are the tigers of Aunt Jennifer on the panels.

Q.6.Why don’t they fear men beneath the tree?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer’s tigers are fearless and confident. They have chivalrous qualities and therefore they do not fear men.

Q,7.Explain, ‘sleek chivalric certainty.’ What makes the tigers pace in sleek chivalric certainty?

Ans. Sleek, chivalric and certainty are the three qualities of the tigers knitted by Aunt Jennifer. Sleek indicates the smoothness of their movement while chivalric and certainty are fearlessness and confidence respectively. As the tigers have overcome the fear of men beneath the tree, they pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Q.8.What do you mean by the certainty that the tigers possess?

Ans. The tigers used to fear the men. But once they were made by Aunt Jennifer, they learnt courage. In their new birth these tigers feel at ease and confident. Now they do not have to run away from anyone. They move slowly. They run ferociously.

 

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.

 

Q.1.Why do Aunt’s fingers flutter?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer is the victim of male domination. She loves to knit tigers for the realization of her dreams. While she does so she finds it difficult to pull her light ivory needle due to the weight of the marriage ring that her husband put in her finger years ago.

Q.2.How does the poet use ‘wool’ and ‘ivory needle’ to reveal the weightlessness/ease of  Aunt’s knitting work?

Ans. Wool and ivory needle are very light to carry. They are so light that one doesn’t notice their weight. The poet intends to create an atmosphere of complete weightlessness and ease through these objects used for knitting.

Q.3. Why is the Uncle’s wedding band massively heavy to Aunt Jennifer?

Ans. In fact a wedding band is very light, but for Aunt Jennifer it is a sign of her husband’s dominance over her. It has become a burden for her that limits her freedom as a social being.

Q.4.Why is the term ‘sits’ used instead of ‘remains?’

Ans. Sits here refers to domination over someone’s freedom. For Aunt Jennifer her husband’s wedding ring was no sign of love or care. For her it was a sign of suppression and burden.

Q.5.How does the poet draw the picture of male domination through ‘Uncle’s wedding band?’

Ans. Uncle’s wedding band for Aunt Jennifer was never a representation of love or matrimony. The band symbolized bondage for her. Like a rope binds one, the wedding band bound her.

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.

 

 

Q.1.What will happen to Aunt Jennifer when she is dead?

Ans. When Aunt Jennifer dies she will herself have no freedom even in her grave.

Q.2.Why are Aunt’s hands terrified?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer’s dream-work was to knit tigers in her panels. While she did this she was stopped, threatened and burdened by her husband. This fear of her husband later left her hand terrified.

Q.3.Explain, “the ordeals she was mastered by…”

Ans. The ordeals that Aunt Jennifer had been mastered by were her sufferings and difficulties that she had to suffer under her husband and the burden that society had imposed upon her because she was a woman.

Q.4.Which were the ordeals Aunt was a master of?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer’s life was a life of submission, slavery and sufferings in a male dominated society. She wanted to knit tigers for herself but the wedding band that her husband had put in her finger stood a stumbling block in her life. By sitting on her finger, the wedding band made her suffer a lot of pain while knitting tigers. By bearing these sufferings she became a master of sufferings.

Q.5.Will Aunt have freedom after her death? Why?

Ans. No, Aunt Jennifer will have no freedom even after her death. As a tradition she will have to wear her matrimonial ring even in her grave. This ring bore the mark of her slavery under man, her husband.

Q.6.How will male domination follow Aunt beyond her life?

Ans. Male domination used to haunt Aunt Jennifer throughout her life. When she wore her husband’s wedding band on the day of marriage she became a slave of the male’s power. Later on, even after her death, Aunt’s name will be engraved on her tombstone under her husband’s name, but she will not have an identity of her own.

Q.7.What will happen to Aunt Jennifer’s tigers after her death?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer’s tigers will survive proudly and bravely even after their creator’s death.

Q.8.How can the tigers remain proud and unafraid even after the death of their creator?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer was the creator of the tigers in the panel. Even after her death these tigers will live proud and unafraid with the cherished feelings that they are no more the slaves of men. They feel proud of their newly achieved free status in the society and of their great liberator, Aunt Jennifer.

Q.9.How do these lines shed light on the success of Adrienne Rich in her attempts to liberate the female species of America?

Ans. Aunt Jennifer is the poetic representation of Adrienne Rich. Aunt left a flock of tigers on her panel to prance unafraid. Similarly did the poet do by strengthening, empowering and awakening a new generation of American women to stand confident on their feet. Aunt’s tigers and the new American women are the same.

Q.10.Bring out the symbolic representation of the poet Adrienne Rich, her works, struggles, her success in freeing women through the image of Aunt Jennifer.

Ans. Aunt Jennifer is a parallel character who represents the poet Adrienne Rich, her attempts to liberate the women folk from male domination, her struggles and ordeals, and finally, her victory. Like Aunt Jennifer who knitted tigers with wool and needle, Adrienne Rich knitted a new America inhabited by brave women. However, while knitting her tigers, Aunt Jennifer had to face difficulties because she wore a heavy wedding band imposed upon her by her husband. Similar was Rich’s experience. She too had to face harsh attacks from her society for writing poems against the existing male domination. Aunt Jennifer never had a time free from ordeals. She was constantly haunted by her fear of the wedding band. Similarly did Rich have to live till her death. Unfortunately the male ruled her even after her death as she still had to bear her hushand’s name even in her grave. The two women had similar life and death and pains and failure at death but what they left behind them was a brave generation. Aunt Jennifer left behind her a number of fearless tigers while Rich had new generation of brave women to succeed her.

Q.11.How are tigers symbolic of women?

Ans. Tiger is a feminine symbol. The bright yellow color of topaz and the dark lines that adorn their sleek fur give tigers beauty rather than grandeur or might. Moreover, their submissive yet fearless attitude, even in front of their enemy, gives them the female maturity.

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