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Deep Water - William Douglas-Question and answers


Q1.What was the misadventure that William Douglas speaks about?

Ans.William Douglas is an American writer.he was the longest serving justice in the history of American court. In his autobiography ,Of Man and Mountain he speaks about a misadventure .Once, Douglas had gone to the pool when no one was there.He was timid about going in  alone and he sat on the side of the pool to wait for others. He had not been there long when an eighteen year old boy came and tossed him into the deep end.

Douglas was unable to get out and the sheer terror of the water around him, filling him,   nearly caused an accident.This horrifying experience would have led to Douglas being drowned, was there not help at hand. This was the misadventure that Douglas had, increasing his fear of the water that already loomed large in his heart.

Q.2. How did the instructor 'build a swimmer' out of douglas?

Ans.William Douglas had the most frightening and nightmarish experience at the Y.M.C.A pool when a boy of eighteen had tossed him into the pool and he had a near brush with death. The terror that he experienced and the resulting fear of water prevented him from enjoying fishing, canoeing, swimming etc. with his friends. The fear became so deep rooted that Douglas decided to overcome it.

The first step he took was to get an instructor. The instructor made him swim five days a week and taught him how to exhale underwater and inhale above water. He made him practise very hard five days a week, an hour each day. His safety was ensured when the instructor put a belt around him which had a hook and a rope attached to it. An overhead cable had a pulley in it and the rope going over it. The instructor would hold the rope while Douglas swam from one end of the pool to the other. In about six months, and with a lot of hard-work and determination, Douglas was able to perfect the art of swimming. His instructor had built a swimmer out of him, bit by bit.

Q.3. What was the writer’s first reaction on being flung into the pool?

Ans.When Douglas was tossed into the deep end, he landed in a sitting position, swallowed water, and went at once to the bottom. He was frightened, but not yet frightened out of his wits. On the way down to the end of the pool, he planned that when his feet hit the bottom, he would make a big jump, come to the surface, lie flat on it, and paddle to the edge of the pool.

Q.4.Why did William Douglas hate the idea of getting into water?

Ans.When Douglas was 4 years old and his father took him to the beach in California, he was knocked down by the waves while standing in the surf. Douglas was buried in water, his breath was gone and he was frightened. Thanks to this experience, there was always a terror in his heart at the overpowering force of the waves and a hatred of the idea of getting into water.

Q.5 "the instructor was finished but i was not finished", explain briefly ?

Ans.Douglas reflects on the job done by his swimming coach. The coach had trained him in and with all techniques to make a swimmer out of him. But Douglas was not yet certain whether he would be able to swim without a coach's assistance. He intended to test his confidence by swimming on his own, without any help. In that sense he was 'not finished'.

Q.6 What did he feel when he sank into the water in 2nd time?

Ans. He frightened and he planned to implement some strategy to come out of water. He planned when his feet hit the bottom, he would make a big jump and come to the surface, lie flat on it and paddle to the edge of the pool. But it seemed like a long way down.Those nine feet were more like ninety and before he touched bottom his lungs were ready to burst. And his feet hit bottom he summoned all his strength and done that, but he thought he will come up to the surface like a cork. But that planned not worked, at last he felt to call his mother for help.  Soon the world around him was dark and he was completely out down. His body now ceased all efforts. The curtain of life fell. But luckily before he was dead he was saved and taken out by a diver who used to come there.

Q.7. What critical appreciation of chapter deep water by William Douglas?

Ans.The chapter deals with two basic aspects of human nature: the creation of fear due to any particular circumstance and the ability to over come that fear. The author of the chapter, develops a deep fear for water because of a childhood incident. He is completely handicapped by this fear and is unable to enjoy any activity related to water. The fear is real and the he has to face this fear alone to get rid of it. His strong willpower and comforting help from people around him pulls him out of this darkness of fear.

The events of the chapter show us that minor incidents of childhood can have a long lasting and damaging effect on one's mind. Such effects remain active in a person's subconscious mind till the time he makes a conscious effort to wipe them from his mind.

A strong determination, courage and a well thought plan can help one overcome the biggest fear of his life. Same was done by the writer in this chapter. He is helped by his coach to become a good swimmer but his quest for fearlessness doesn't end here. He has to do it alone; where his only companion are his capability, his resolve and his nerves of steel. Ultimately he is able to achieve his aim and come out of deep waters drowning all his fears forever.

Q.8. How did Douglas overcome his fear of water?


 “I used every way I knew to overcome this fear.” What was the fear and how did William Douglas finally overcome it?


A man of courage is also a man of faith. How is this borne out by Douglas account of his conquest over the fear of water?


At last I felt released.’ Describe the efforts undertaken by Douglas to find this moment of release.

Ans. The author, William Douglas talks about his fear of water and how he overcomes it. He reveals how he had feared it ever since he was three or four years old and his father had taken him to a beach in California. He was terrified of the waves that swept over the beach and knocked him down leaving him breathless. He decided to learn how to swim at the YMCA. Pool. Though the sight of the water revived unpleasant memories he was determined to overcome them and learn to swim. One day, while he was sitting on the side of the pool, a bigger boy flung him into the deep end of the pool.  The author hitting the bottom and made a jump to the surface., but he sank to the bottom again. He finally fainted. Then he decided to hire the services of an instructor and master swimming. Initially, the instructor put a belt round him and the attached rope through a pulley that run on an overhead cable. Hour after hour, day after day till he began to get back his confidence. Thus through sheer will power and practice, William overcame his fear of water and became a swimmer. Though the instructor was satisfied with his progress but to test whether he had lost all the vestiges of panic and fear, he went up to the Tieton, to Conrad Meadows. He dived into it and swam across it and was overjoyed to learn that he had at last conquest his fear of water. This experience is indeed a sign of courage, grit, patience and determination and a lesson to us that any fear can be overcome provided one perseveres


Q.9.What is the ‘misadventure’ that William Douglas speaks about?

Ans. One day William Douglas was sitting alone on side of the Y.M.C.A pool. He was waiting for the others to come so that he could start swimming. By chance there came a big boy. He asked, “ Hi skinny! How’d you like to be ducked”? He picked and tossed and threw him into the deep end of the pool. He speaks about this misadventure, which caused a last of trouble to him.

Q.10. How did the drowning experience affect Douglas?

Ans.William Douglas feared water and whenever he went back to the pool, terror seized him. He avoided water as far as he could. When he tried to enter water, the stark fear would seize him. His legs became paralysed and icy terror would grab his heart.

Q.11. How did Douglas overcome his fear of water?

Ans. He was a man of courage, strong determination. He realized that fear of water has become his sworn enemy. It was following him everywhere. He decided to get rid of. Under the e guidance of an expert instructor he learnt swimming and became confident to face this terror. He dived into the Warm Lake, swam across to the other shore and back. In this way he conquered his old terror.

Q.12. What does the mother of Douglas say about the YMCA pool?

Ans. He wanted to learn swimming. His mother had advised him against his visit to the Yakima River since it was treacherous in nature. She considered Y.M.C.A pool as the safest place because it was 2 or 3 feet at the shallow end and nine feet at the deeper end.

Q.13. How did the instructor make Douglas a perfect swimmer?

Ans: He gave Douglas a practice for five days in a week. In the beginning he put a belt around him and it was attached to the rope. The rope went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. Each time his old fear returned. It went on for three months. Then he taught him to put his face under water and exhale. He taught him a raise his nose and inhale. Thus, piece by piece the instructor built him a swimmer.

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