My Daughters Summar Notes

My Daughters About the Author

Chinua Achebe was bom in Nigeria and has written over twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collection of poetry. Things Fall Apart, ‘Arrow of God’, ‘Anthills of Savannath’, ‘Beware’, ‘Soul Brother and Other Poems’, ‘Hopes and Impediments’, ‘Selected Essays’ and ‘Home and Exile’ are some of his well-known books.

This essay is from his acclaimed volume of autobiographical essays – The Education of British Protected Child. The essay prescribed is witty, passionately honest, powerful and personal. It throws light on the efforts of colonial writings on the native innocent minds.

My Daughters Summary

In the autobiographical essay ‘My Daughters’, Chinua Achebe recounts his parental concern for his daughters. Chinelo, the oldest daughter was only able to access the many imported, beautifully packaged, but demeaning reading books available. These books stereotyped the African as ignorant, irrational and superstitious.

On reading some these books, he was shocked at ‘the “condescension (belief of superiority) and even offensiveness’ concealed within the glamorous, colourful covers. The essay depicts Achebe’s parental and authorial intentions explicitly interrelated in their concerns: to correct wrongs; and to teach right. He attempts to analyze the tools of instructions, the correction of wrongs, of representation of truth, in the story.

In the essay, Achebe recounts another incident with his younger daughter, Nwando, where he had to tell her a story every day as part of his parental duty while taking her to school and where she would tell him a story on the journey back. This ritualistic (give and take of stories was a vital exchange of information and emotions that strengthened familial bonds between parents and children in traditional Igbo society).

Achebe writes that throughout his life he had to consider millions of differences between Nigerian culture and the arrogant and overbearing western culture that gradually seeped and conquered their Nigerian culture. Earlier if one asked a Nigerian parent “How many children do you have?” they retorted angrily “Children are not livestock”.

But lately the Nigerians have become accommodating. He himself had reconciled to answer such questions that his father ‘Would not have touched with a bargepole”, as he was unashamed to answer such questions. But Achebe rather enjoys answering them.

So he writes that he and his wife have four children, two daughters and two sons. He reveals to us that they had made many mistakes while bringing up their oldest daughter, Chinelo, but Chinelo was game (acceptable) for them. When Chinelo was four years old, she gave them a glimpse of her experience of her world. One day she declared, “I am not black, I am brown”. That shocker alerted him to pay attention to the type of books she was exposed to in nursery school. The school was run by white immigrant women.

The writer started inquiring how his daughter had formed such opinions. His enquiries led him to the ‘expensive and colourful books imported from Europe’. These books were exhibited and marketed enticingly in some supermarkets in Lagos.

The author found that the contents of those books did not offer any insights to modem civilization but upheld the superior intelligence of the white people and portrayed the native African knowledge offensively.

Achebe recounts a short story from one of those expensive children’s books. ‘A white boy is playing with his kite in a beautiful open space on a clear summer’s day. In the background are lovely houses and gardens and tree-lined avenues.

The wind is good and the little boy’s kite rises higher and higher and higher. It flies so high in the end that it gets caught under the tail of an airplane that just happens to be passing overhead at that very moment. Trailing the kite, the airplane flies on past cities and oceans and deserts.

Finally it is flying over forests and jungles. We see wild animals in the forests and we see little round huts in the clearing, an African village. For some reason, the kite untangles itself at this point and begins to fall while the airplane goes on its way. The kite falls and falls and finally comes to rest on top of a coconut tree.

The villagers rush to the scene and discuss this apparition with great fear and trembling. In the end they send for the village witch-doctor, who appears in his feathers with an entourage of drummers. He offers sacrifices and prayers and then sends his boldest man up the tree to bring down the object, which he does with appropriate reverence.

The witch doctor then leads the village in a procession from the coconut tree to the village shrine, where the supernatural object is deposited and where it is worshipped to this day’. Though Achebe found the story dramatic, he felt it demeaned local African cultural practices and knowledge.

During one of his discussions with his academic friends, his friend and poet, Christopher Oldgbo, who represented Cambridge University Press in Nigeria convinced him to write a children’s book for his company. Seeing the need and urgency of providing genuine children’s books, Achebe wrote ‘Chike and the River’ and dedicated the book to his older daughter, Chinelo and to all his nephews and nieces.

Achebe confides that he learnt from his daughter, Chinelo, that ‘parents must not assume that all they had to do for books was to find the smartest department store and pick up the most attractive looking book in stock’.

Achebe rues that parents are satisfied with the contents of those glamorous books and never try to opt for better contents reflecting their own culture and civilization. He feels that their lethargy ‘was well and truly rebuked by the poison’ (contents of children’s books), which they happily took home to their children. So Achebe thought that if he wanted a safe book for native children, it was best to write them himself.

Achebe recalls that his second daughter, Nwando, gave him a variation on Chinelo’s theme eight years later in 1972. Achebe was staying with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts to escape a stifling Biafra civil war. The author had been invited to teach at the Massachusetts University, while his wife had decided to complete her graduate studies.

They sent their older children to various Amherst schools and the youngest girl, Nwando to a nursery school which she hated to go. Achebe and his wife thought that it was probably because the child had never been away from the house. Every morning when Achebe dropped the child to school she would cry intensely and when he went back to bring her back she seemed very unhappy. The author realized that the child felt lonely at the school.

Since the author had to drive her to school and back every day, he and his little daughter came to a pact. Accordingly the child promised him that she wouldn’t cry if told her a different story everyday when he dropped her off to school and in return she would also narrate a different story on the way back home.

The author confides that this agreement taxed his stock of known and imagined stories but the child was happy. By the end of the year she was one of the popular students of the school and her little American schoolmates started to call the school ‘Nwando – Haven’ instead of its proper name ‘Wonder Haven’.

My Daughters Glossary

  • Livestock : Farm animals that are kept, raised and used for profit
  • Reciprocate : To do something for someone who has done something similar for you.
  • Strategic : relating to a general plan that is created to achieve a goal usually over a long period
  • Expatriate : Exile, Banish, to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere.
  • Condescension : The attitude or behaviour of people who believe they are more intelligent.
  • Offensive : Causing someone to feel hurt, angry or upset: Rude or insulting.
  • Apparition : A ghost or spirit of a dead person.
  • Demeaning : To lower in character, status or reputation.
  • Complacency : A feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better.
  • Biafran Civil war : Deadly Civil war in Nigeria fought between the government of Nigeria and the secessionist state of Biafra. The war displaced many people.

My Daughters Questions And Answers

Comprehension

I. Answer the following questions in one or two sentences:

Question 1.
What has the western style done to the native culture?
Answer:
The domineering Western style has infiltrated and then invaded the native Nigerian culture.

Question 2.
Where is the difference between the cultures glaringly stark?
Answer:
The difference between the cultures is glaringly stark in children’s books imported from Europe.

Question 3.
How is the author different from his father?
Answer:
Achebe has learnt to answer questions that his father would not have touched with a bargepole.

Question 4.
Why are girls strategically important in the author’s family?
Answer:
The author had four children-two daughters and two sons, which created a lovely balance further enhanced by the symmetry of their arrivals: girl, boy, girl. Thus the girls had taken strategic positions in the family.

Question 5.
What was the name of the first daughter?
Answer:
Chinelo.

Question 6.
What did the daughter declare herself to be?
Answer:
Chinelo, the first daughter declared ‘I am not black; I am brown”.

Question 7.
Where were children’s books displayed?
Answer:
Posh super markets of Lagos.

Question 8.
The books the author found were civilising and pleasant (TRUE / FALSE)
Answer:
False.

Question 9.
As the kite flies high, it tangles itself to:
a. Another kite
b. An electric phone
c. A tree
d. Airplane
Answer:
d. Airplane

Question 10.
Where does the kite fall?
Answer:
On top of a coconut tree in an African village.

Question 11.
Who is called from the village to assess the kite / apparition?
Answer:
Village Witch doctor.

Question 12.
How is the kite taken to the village shrine? What is being done to it till date?
Answer:
It is taken in a procession from the coconut tree to the village shrine, where the supernatural object is deposited and worshiped to this day.

Question 13.
Name the children’s book the author wrote?
Answer:
Chike and the River.

Question 14.
What did the second daughter hate the most?
Answer:
She hated going to nursery school.

II. Answer the following questions in 80-100 words:

Question 1.
Discuss the noticeable difference between the author and his father?
Answer:
During the times of the author’s father, people wouldn’t ask questions such as “How many children do you have?”. They would be rebuked “Children are not livestock!”. Often such questions would be ignored.

But things had changed drastically during the author’s times. People had been making concession. After concession even when the other party shows little sign of reciprocating. Achebe has learned to answer questions that his father would not have touched with a bargepole. He shamelessy admits that he enjoys answering such questions to a certain extent. He confides that he has four children, unlike his father who would like to keep such details privy

Question 2.
Was the author rocked by his first daughter’s declaration?
What did he do subsequently?
Answer:
Achebe was rocked by his first daughter Chinelo’s declaration, “I am not black, I am brown”. That shocker alerted him to pay attention to the type of books she was exposed to in nurssery school. The school was run by white immigrant women. The writer started in quiring how his daughter had formed such opinions. His enquiries led him to the ‘expensive and colourful books imported from Europe’.

The author found that the contents of these books did not offer any insights to modem civilization but upheld the superior intelligence of the white people and portrayed the native knowledge offensively. So Achebe tought that if he wanted a safe book for native children, it was best to write them himself.

Question 3.
Narrate the mean story the author found in the Children’s book.
Answer:
‘A white boy is playing with his kite in a beautiful open space on a clear summer’s day. In the background are lovely houses and gardens and tree-lined avenues. The wind is good and the little boy’s kite rises higher and higher and higher. It flies so high in the end that it gets,caught under the tail of an airplane that just happens to be passing overhead at that very moment.

Trailing the kite, the airplane flies on past cities and oceans and deserts. Finally it is flying over forests and jungles. We see wild animals in the forests and we see little round huts in the clearing, an African village. For some reason, the kite untangles itself at this point and begins to fall while the airplane goes on its way. The kite falls and falls and finally comes to rest on top of a coconut tree.

The villagers rush to the scene and discuss this apparition with great fear and trembling. In the end they send for the village witch doctor, who appears in his feathers with an entourage of drummers. He. offers sacrifices and prayers and then sends his boldest man up the tree to bring down the object, which he does with appropriate reverence. The witch doctor then leads the village in a procession from the coconut tree to the village shrine, where the supernatural object is deposited and where it is worshipped to this day’.

Question 4.
What did the author decide after reading the story in the Children’s book?
Answer:
The author found the imported books offensive. He found them to be dramatic but demeaning books available to native children. During one of his discussions with his academic friends, his friend and poet, Christopher Oldgbo, who represented Cambridge University Press in Nigeria convinced him to write a children’s book for his company. Seeing the need and urgency of providing genuine children’s books, Achebe wrote ‘Chike and the River’ and dedicated the book to his older daughter, Chinelo and to all his nephews and nieces.

Achebe confides that he learnt from his daughter, Chinelo, that ‘parents must not assume that all they had to do for books was to find the smartest department store and pick up the most attractive looking book in stock’.

Question 5.
How different was the author’s second daughter from the first?
Answer:
Achebe’s first daughter Chinelo was bold and assertive even at the age of four. His second daughter, Nawando was timid and a introvert. When she was two and a half years old, she was enrolled in a nursery school named ‘Wonderhaven’ in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. She throughly hated it. The author assumed that it was a passing problem for a child who had never left home before. She would cry miserably all the way to school. She would seem so desolate all the way back home. The author assumed she wouldn’t have said a single word to anyone all day.

Question 6.
How did the author convince Nwando to go to school without crying?
Answer:
Since the author had to drive her to school and back everyday. He dreaded the thought of hearing Nwando cry continuously all the way to school. At the end of the week they struck a bargain that solved the problem. The author had to tell her a story all the way to school if she promised not to cry when I dropped her off. Very soon she added another story all the way back. The agreement, taxed Achebe’s stock of known and fictious story collection but Nwando no longer cried on the way to school.

Question 7.
How did Wonderhaven become Nwando-haven?
Answer:
Achebe and his youngest daughter started exchanging stories on the way to the nurssery school ‘Wonderhaven’. By the year’s end she had become such a success in her school that many of her little American schoolmates had begun to call their school ‘Nwando- haven insteed of its proper name, Wonderhaven.

III. Answer the following questions in 200-250 words:

Question 1.
“Apparently harmless and innocent stories can be demeaning to an entire culture and country.” Discuss.
Answer:
The essay ‘My daughters’ is a witness to the culture shock of raising ‘brown children’ in America. The essay portrays the image of America in the world. Africa is still the object of demeaning repesentation. The telling of the story of black people had become the self-appointed responsibility of white people, and they have mostly done it to suit their own purpose.

The short children’s story which Achebe recounts in the essay is a mean story hiding behind the glamorous covers of a children’s book. It depicts a contrasting picture of the whitemans world and the blackman’s world. In the white man’s world, there are lovely houses and gardens and tree lined avenues. The black-man’s world is portrayed as forests and jungles full of wild animals.

Little round huts can be seeing in the clearings of the forests. Which obviously is an African village. The white boy’s toy – a kite becomes an object and apparition which the natives fear. The kite is brought down from the top of a coconut tree where it had come to rest. It is treated a supernatural object and taken in a procession to the village shrine and worshipped to this day.

The story is written to convey and uphold the theory that the western world is civilized and developed (The aeroplane is a portrayed as a symbol of development) and that Africa is still a dark continent with little round hats in jungle clearings. The natives are not civilized and progressive but ignorant and superstitions, as they fear and rever a kite (a boy’s toy) as a super natural being and worship it.

Hence such harmless and innocent stories can be demeaning to an entire culture and country.

Question 2.
“Parents should never fall for attractive looking, beautifully packaged imported Children’s books.” Comment.
Answer:
Yes, parents should never fall for attractive looking beautifully packaged imported children’s books. In his autobiographical essay ‘My Daughters’, Chinua Achebe recounts his parental concern for his daughters. Chinelo, the eldest daughter was only able to access the many imported, beautifully packaged, but demeaning readings available.

These books stereotyped the African as ignorant, irrational and superstitious. He read some of those books and was shocked at the belief of superiority of the white people. He found the portrayal of the black people and their culture, beliefs and tradition offensive, which were concealed within the glamorous, colourful covers of the book.

With Chinelo declaring, ‘I am not black, but brown’, Achebe learned that parents must not assume that all they had do for books was to find the smarest departmental store and pick up the most attractive-looking book in store. So he came to the conclusion that the satisfaction of the parents who felt that they had given the best story book to the child was well and truly rebuked by poisonous content in pages between the colourful covers of the book.

Question 3.
How do the simple colonial stories and narratives affect the innocent native minds?
Answer:
In the essay ‘My Daughters’, Chinua Achebe writes that he was shocked to hear his four year old eldest daughter, one day, declare, ‘I am not black, but brown’. Chinelo, was only able to access the many imported, beautifully packaged but demeaning readings available. These books stereotyped the Africa as ignorant, irrational, superstitious and uncivilized.

Influenced by the superiority of the white people and their portrayal of Africans in children’s stories, she had declared that she was not black but brown. It is a blatant disregard, disrespect and disloyality to one’s one ethnic and cultural roots. The simple colonial stories and narratives had poisoned the minds of little native children and turned them against their own roots.

My Daughters Grammar And Composition

Presentation Skills

Presentation skill is an important component in the soft skills basket. A teacher ‘presents’ during a lecture, a performer ‘presents’ during stage performance and different people make use of ‘Presentations’ to make their point, present their arguement. However presentation skill is considered extremely important in the present day context, be it for presentation, during an interview, making a business proposal or presenting an arguement to persuade someone. Presentation Skill is the most effective and enterprising skill in Communication Skills.

Every profession demands Presentation Skill. It has become an integral part in one’s career. It is inevitable and the most challenging task as the presentation is helpful for promotion, to acquire project, to persuade, to share views, to promote, etc.
It is appropriate that at this stage, as a student one must acquire this skill for successful presentation in the world of work and life in general.

Questions on Presentation

Question 1.
Name any five essential ingredients of a Presentation. Five essential ingredients of a good Presentation.
Answer:

  • Profiling the audience
  • Purpose of Presentation
  • Clarity of thought
  • Mode of Presentation
  • Visual aids

Question 2.
Why reserch, profiling the audience and conclusion important in a Presentation?
Answer:
Audience research and profiling is important because it involves identifing the audience and adapting a Presentation to their interests, levels of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs. Taking an audience- centered approach is important because a speaker’s effectiveness will be improved if the Presentation is created and delivered in an appropriate manner.

The purpose of the conclusion is to summerize the main points of the presentation and to prepare the audience for the end of the presentation.

Question 3.
What are the important traits in Para language that are necessary during a Presentation?
Answer:
Important traits in Para language:

  • Making eye contact
  • Using voice modulation, adopt appropriate tone, tenor and pitch
  • Using gesture appropriately, but only to supplement your language and reinforce ideas
  • Dressing appropriately, use formal dress and look well groomed
  • Avoiding reading from the slides.

Question 4.
Write any 3 do’s and 3 don’ts that should be kept in mind while making a Presentation.
Answer:
3 Do’s And 3 Dont’s In a Presentation –
DO’S :

  • Use pictures that suit your purpose
  • Be punctual
  • Make your slides look elegant.

DONT’S :

  • Do not block the projector
  • Do not question the audience as an answer to a question
  • Do not turn your back to the audience

English Summary

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