The Professor Summary Notes

The Professor About the Author

Nissim Ezekiel is identified as the father of post-independence Indian-English poetry. He is the one who started modernity in Indian – English poetry. His simple, conversational style has influenced many later Indian English poets. Poet, dramatist, editor, as well as art- critic, Nissim Ezekiel was bom on 14th December 1924 in Mumbai.

The Ezekiels belonged to Mumbai’s Jewish community, commonly known as the ‘Bene Israel’. In 1947, Ezekiel took his MA in English Literature from Mumbai University. There after he studied philosophy at Birbeck College, London. Ezekiel’s other poetry collections are The Third (1959), The Unfinished Man (1960), The Exact Name (1965), Snake Skin and Other Poems (1974), Hymns in Darkness (1976), Latter-Day Psalms (1982), and Collected, Poems (1989).

The Professor Summary

The poem ‘The Professor’ is by the pioneering Indian-English poet, critic and writer Nissim Ezekiel. The poem presents a humorous yet satirical criticism of the inappropriate English spoken by Indians. It also mocks the orthodox Indian society. The poem can be considered as a dramatic monologue, a one-way conversation between a retired Professor of Geography and his one time student whose identity is not disclosed.

“Remember me? I am Professor Sheth.
Once I taught you geography. Now I am retired, though my healthy is good. My wife died some years back.
By God’s grace, all my children Are well settled in life.
One is Sales Manager,
One is Bank Manager,
Both have cars.”

Nissim Ezekiel begins die poem by introducing the speaker who asks someone if he/she remember him Indie next line he introduces himself as Professor Sheth, who once taught him/her geography. Here we come to know that the speaker is addressing one of his former students. Professor Seth then goes on to tell his student about his life. He reveals that even though he is healthy he is now retired and sadly he had lost his wife a few years ago.

The Professor continues to tell his student that he is thankful to God, that all his children are “well – settled in life”. He proudly Bank Manager. In an archaic view of Indians about Success in life and social status, he boasts that both own cars.

“Others also doing well, though not so well.
Every family must have black sheep.
Sarala and Tarala are married,
Their husbands are very nice boys.
You won’t believe but I have eleven grandchildren.
How many issues you have? Three?
That is good. These are days of family planning.
I am not against. We have to change with times.
Whole world is changing. In India also
We are keeping up. Our progress is progressing.
Old values are going, new values are coming.
Everything is happening with leaps and bound.”

He informs the student that his other children are also well off but regrets that they are not doing as well as the two son’s who are Managers. He exhibits his worldly knowledge by pointing out that every family must have a “black sheep”. He considers his other son who is not as successful as ‘Black Sheep’, (an informal reference to a member of a family who is regarded as a disgrace to it).

He goes on to tell his student that his daughters, Sarala and Tarala are now married and that their husbands are good gentlemen. The Professor is unashamed to reveal that he has very large family. He proudly declares the shameful fact that he has eleven grandchildren. Here the speaker gives his student a chance to speak when he asks him/her ‘How many issues he/she has?”.

But before the student can answer, he asks him if he has three issues (children). He reassures his student that having only three children is not bad or disgraceful because he feels that nowadays people are more and more aware of family planning. He admits that he is not against family planning.

He agrees and accepts the changes that occur over the time. He points out that the ‘Whole world is changing’, and is happy to see that we Indians are keeping up with the change and is happy that even ‘Our progress is progressing’. He is also not concerned about age old beliefs and conceptions being replaced by new ones and concedes that ‘Everything is happening with leaps and bounds’ – at a fast pace.

“I am going out rarely, now and then Only, this is price of old age But my health is O.K. Usual aches and pains.
No diabetes, no blood pressure, no heart attack.
This is because of sound habits in youth.”

In these lines the Professor reveals details about himself after going through the details ofhis family. He proudly declares his health is good, other than age related aches and pains. He seems arrogant when he attributes his good health to the ‘sound habits’ ofhis youth because he does not suffer from diabetes or blood pressure and still had an healthy heart i.e., he had not suffered any heart attacks.

“How is your healthy keeping?
Nicely? I am happy for that.
This year I am sixty-nine
and hope to score a century.
You were so thin, like stick,
Now you are man of weight and consequence.
That is good joke.
If you are coming again this side by chance,
Visit please my humble residence also.
I am living just on apposite house’s backside.”

The Professor briefly turns his focus on his former student and enquires about his health. He seems happy to hear that he is in good health. Without transition the attention is back on him. He reveals that he is sixty-nine years old that year and anticipates living for hundred years – a century. He reminds his former student that he was thin as a stick during his college days, and points out that ‘he is now a man of weight and consequence’. The Professor may, be indicating that now his student had gained weight as well as attained social distinction.

He pats himself for the witty remark saying that it was a good joke. In the concluding lines we come to know that the Professor had met his former student, perhaps when he had been taking a walk on a street next to the one on which his house was located. He warmly invites the student to visit his humble residence the next time he happens to be in the area, (but not then). He points out that he lived just at the backside of the house on the oppo site side of the street. (Opposite house’s backside).

We note that it is ironical that the Professor being a learned man and an educationist does not seem to dwell on education ofhis own children or that of the student’s children.

The Professor Glossary

  • Retired: Having left one’s job and ceased to work
  • Grace: Favour or honour
  • Black Sheep: Refers to the sons who have not lived up to his expectations
  • Values: Principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judge ment of what is important in life
  • Leaps and Bounds: To emphasize that someone or something is improving or increasing quickly and greatly
  • Aches: A continuous or prolonged dull pain in a part of one’s body
  • Consequence: Importance or power

The Professor Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Who is the speaker? Who is he talking to?
Answer:
The speaker is a retired Professor in Geography. He is talking to his former student.

Question 2.
Which subject does the Professor teach?
Answer:
Geography.

Question 3.
Does Professor Sheth agree with ‘changing with the times’?
Answer:
Yes, he agrees and accepts the changes that occur over the time.

Question 4.
Name the speaker’s daughters? What does he say about them?
Answer:
Sarala and Tarala. The Professor happily informs his former student the both his daughters are now married and that their husbands are good boys.

Question 5.
Who is the black sheep in the speaker’s family? Why?
Answer:
The Professor probably has three sons. The two elder sons are leading a comfortable and secure life. The elder one is a Sales manager and the second one is a Bank manager. He regrets that his third son is not doing well in life and considers him as a ‘black sheep’ in the family. He exhibits his wordly knowledge by pointing out that every family must have a ‘black sheep’ an informal reference to a member of a family who is regarded as a disagrace to it.

Question 6.
What is meant by ‘scoring a century’?
Answer:
In the poem, ‘The Professor’ reveals that he is sixtynine years old that year and anticipates to live for hundred years a century.

Question 7.
What are the minor health problems the Professor com plains about?
Answer:
The Professor proudly declares his health his good other than age related aches and pains.

Question 8.
What is the‘good joke’in the poem?
Answer:
The Professor reminds his former student that he was thin as stick during his college days and points out that he is now a man of weight (fat) and consequence (importance). He pats himself for the witty remark saying that it was a good joke.

Question 9.
What aspect of Indian culture is brought out in the Professor’s invitation?
Answer:
The Professor’s invitation brings out the aspect of hospitality of Indian culture. But here it displays the hollowness of the Professor’s invitation. He is not keen on inviting his former student but makes a show of his hospitality. So he extends his invitation to; visit his house, the next time the student happens to be in that area.

II. Answer the Following Questions in a Page Each:

Question 1.
What is Professor Sheth’s view of his family? Does it represent a typical middle class life of contentment?
Answer:
The geography Professor is proud that his family is well-settled. He is contented that with God’s grace he and his family have a good status in society. Two of his sons are managers and both own cars, a typical Indian symbol of status. He considers another son of his as a ‘black sheep’ of the family, because his not well off, like his elder son’s. He is thankful that both his daughter’s Sarala and Tarala are married to nice boys. He is proud of being a grandfather an impressive eleven grandchildren. But unfortunate his wife passed away a few years back. This reflects a typical middle class life of contentment.

Question 2.
Write a short note on the family members of the Professor?
Answer:
The Geography Professor is retired and now sixty-nine years old. His wife has passed away a few years back. He has three sons and two daughters. The eldest son is a sales manager and the second is a bank manager. They are well-off and own cars. He considers his third son as the ‘black sheep’ of the family because he is not well-off like his elder sons. His two daughters are married to nice boys. He is now a proud grand father to his eleven grand children.

Question 3.
How does the poem bring out the tussle between tradition and modernity?
Answer:
The poem ‘The Professor’ portrays the Indian mentality of the speaker-professor’s age and position in society. The poet subtly yet sarcastically ridicules the mindset of the older generation and their archaic values and beliefs. It reflects the older values and beliefs of the Indian society where the end achievement for girls is to get married and to have children. For the boys on the other hand is to be in a good position and earn a comfortable income.

Their job and their assests such as a car is regared as a symbol of high status in society. While he is eloquent of his elder sons he considers his third son ‘black sheep’ because he is not so well-off as his elder brothers. He boasts that he is a grandfather to eleven grandchildren. He agrees with his student having only three children as a right number.

He accepts family planning indicating that he is not opposed to it. He is open to the changing scenario in India and accepts it gracefully. He admits that change is inevitable and it is a global phonomena. He is also hot opposed to progress and accepts new values and beliefs. He tries to show his hospitality by inviting his student to visit his home, the next time he is in the area.

Question 4.
Describe the kind of life the professor is leading?
Answer:
The Professor seems to have taken his retired life seriously, and he contented that he has done his paternal duty towards his family as his children are now well settled in life. His wife has passed away a few years ago.

He admits that he rarely goes out. He is proud that he is in good health and has no chronic ailments expect the usual aches and pains ofoldage. He attributes his good health to ‘sound habits’ in his youth. Even though he rarely ventures out of his house, he is seen out on the street, meets his former student.

III. Answer the Following Questions in two Pages Each:

Question 1.
The poem is a satire about the Indian society. Discuss?
Answer:
The poem is essentially a satire about Indian society. Nissim Ezekiel has depicited Indianness in an ironical tone. He caricatures the retired, self indulgent professor of Geography comically. The Professor being a educationist, speaks to his student in colloquial, unidomatic and ungramatical English, which seems pathetic to the reader.

It is ironical that the professor is uncaring and uncurious of his former students welfare. He does not even enquire about his marital status or his economical situation. He seems to consider the fact that his student having three children as a right number for the age. He does not indulge his student in the conversation while boasting about his own family and achievements.

He agrees and adopts family planning but ironicaly hasn’t adopted the norm in his own life. He has five children and eleven grandchildren, quite a number, for the modem age. Indians have a tendency to intentionally talk about personal matters, likewise the professor talks about his own health, habits and ailments.

He wittily comments on his students girth and status in society as he considers that he has become of ‘man of weight and consequence’. The English language used by the Professor is a perfect example of Indian English typically full of grammatical errors, syntax, idiom and tense. Thus the poet has portrayed the real picture of Indian society in the poem.

Question 2.
Comment on the societal norms of India in the poem?
Answer:
The poem ‘The Professor’ by Nissim Ezekiel depicts Indianess in a satirical tone. It brings into sharp focus the sensibility that characterises Indian modes of thought and behaviour. It ridicules the low grade Indian English used by Indians. The poem focuses on social behaviour prevalent in India wedged between tradition and modem. The title of the poem itself is ironical. The professor being a learned man and educationist is still mired in traditional beliefs.

The use of lndian English effictively brings out the way Indians think in a rather comical way. The language used by the poet effectively conveys the attitades, assumptions and expressions that are distinctly Indian. Indians are typically prone to produce a loud and intimate conversation in public places, even with strangers.

Indians for long have thought that they have achieved some-thing in life if they have a good job and many children. Once we have achieved it, we think of providing a secure life to our children. The father of the family’s main committment to his family is to pro-vide for them and see that they are educated, get good jobs and marry their daughters to nice men.

The poem ‘The Professor’ portrays the Indian mentality for the speaker-professor’s age and position in society. The poet subtly yet sarcastically ridicules the mindset of the older generation and their archaic values and beliefs. It reflects the older values and beliefs of the Indian society where the end achievement for girls is to get married and to have children.

For the boys on the other hand is to be in a good position and earn a comfortable income. Their job and their assects such as a car is regared as a symbol of high status in society. While he is eloqueat of his elder sons he considers his third son ‘black sheep’ because he is not so well-off as his elder brother.

He boasts that he is a grandfather to eleven grand children. He agrees with his student having only three children as aright number. He accepts family planning indicating that he is not opposed to it. He is open to the changing scenario in India and accepts it gracefully. He admits that change is inevitable and it is a global phonomena.

He is also not opposed to progress and accepts new values and beliefs. He tries to show his hospitality by inviting his student to visit his home, the next time he is in the area.

Question 3.
How does the Professor strike a balance between optimism and pessimism?
Answer:
In the poem ‘The Professor’ retired Geography professor in his late 60’s meets a former student on the street. The Professor seems to have a very good memory because even in his old age he surprisingly identifies his former student, even though the student is how obese and unrecognizable.

He informs his student that he is satisfied that he has executed his parental duty satisfactorily as he had educated his children and ensured they are well-settled in life except his youngest son whom he considers as the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

He proudly proclaims that he is the grandfather of eleven grand children. He thinks that the student having only three children is an agreeable number for the modem age. He admits that he is not against family planning. He agrees and accepts the changes that occur over the time. He agrees that India has also become a progressive country like the rest of the world.

He does not me the feet that age old beliefs and conceptions are being replaced by new ones at a fast pace. He proudly declares that he is fortunate to be healthy even in his 60’s other than age related aches and pains.

He appears arrogant and proud when he attributes his good health to the ‘Sound habits’ of his youth, because he is not afflicated with chronic diseases such as diabetes or blood pressure and still has a healthy heart and so he optimistically declares that he will live for hundred and more years.

He shows his wit by joking that he former student has how become a man of weight and consequence i.e., he has become fat and socially distinguished. He is optimistic that his student will again happen to be in his neighbourhood and extends a warm invitation to his house.

Question 4.
‘Professor Sheth represents a generation between tradition and modernity’. Explain?
Answer:
In the poem ‘The Professor’ by Nissim Ezekiel, it is clearly understood that Professor represents a generation of the transitional period between tradition and modernity. Though the Professor is a learned man and educator, his beliefs and ideals are traditional and typically Indian.

The Geography Professor is proud that his family is well-settled. He is contented that with God’s grace he and his family have a good status in society. Two of his sons are managers and both own cars, a typical Indian symbol of status. He considers another son of his as a ‘black sheep’ of the family, because his not well off like his elder son’s. He is thankful that both his daughter’sSarala and Tarala are married to nice boys.

He is proud of being a grandfather an impressive eleven grand children. But unfortunate his wife passed away a few years back. This reflects a typical middle class life of contentment. The poem ‘The Professor’ portrays the Indian mentality for the speaker-professor’s age and position in society.

The poet subtly yet sarcastically ridicules the mindset of the older generation and their archaic values and beliefs. It reflects the older values and beliefs of the Indian society where the end achievement for girls is to get married andto have children.

For the boys on the other hand is to be in a good position and earn a comfortable income. Their job and their assects such as a car is regared as a symbol of high status in society. While he is eloquent of his elder sons he considers his third son ‘black sheep’ because he is not so well-off as his elder brother. He boasts that he is a grandfather to eleven grand children. He agrees with his student having only three children as aright number.

He accepts family planning indicating that he is not opposed to it. He is open to the changing scenario in India and accepts it gracefully. Headmits that change is inevitable and it is a globalphonomena. He is also not opposed to progress and accepts new values and beliefs. He tries to show his hospitality by inviting his student to visit his home, the next time he is in the area.

Question 5.
The Professor exudes optimism for his age, but also comes off as an old man rambling away his troubles. Comment?
Answer:
The poem ‘The Professor’ is by the pioneering Indian-English poet, critic and writer Nissim Ezekiel. The poem presents a humorous yet satirical criticism of the inappropriate English spoken by Indians. It also mocks the orthodox Indian society. The poem can be considered as a dramatic monologue, a one-way conversation between a retired Professor of Geography and his one time student whose identity is not disclosed.

Nissim Ezekiel begins the poem by introducing the speaker who asks someone if he/she remember him. In the next line he introduces himself as Professor Sheth, who once taught him/her geography. Here we come to know that the speaker is addressing one of his former students. Professor Seth then goes on to tell his student about his life. He reveals that even though he is healthy he is now retired and sadly he had lost his wife a few years ago.

The Professor continues to tell his student that he is thankful to God, that all his children are “well – settled in life”. He proudly boasts that one of his sons is now a Sales Manager and the other is a Bank Manager. In an archaic view of Indians about success in life and social status, he boasts that both own cars.

He informs the student that his other children are also well off but regrets that they are not doing as well as the two son’s who are Managers. He exhibits his worldly knowledge by pointing out that every family must have a “black sheep”.

He considers his other son who is not as successful as ‘Black Sheep’. (an informal reference to a member of a family who is regarded as a disgrace to it) He goes on to tell his student that his daughters, Sarala and Tarala are now married and that their husbands are good gentlemen.

The Professor is unashamed to reveal that he has very large family. He proudly declares the shameful feet that he has eleven grand children. Here the speaker gives his student a chance to speak when he asks him/her ‘How many issues he/she has?”.

But before the student can answer, he asks him if he has three issues (children). He reassures his student that having only three children is not bad or disgraceful because he feels that nowadays people are more and more aware offemilyplanning. He admits that he is not against family planning.

He agrees and accepts the changes that occur over the time. He points out that the ‘Whole world is changing’, and is happy to see that we Indians are keeping up with the change and is happy that even ‘Our progress is progressing’. He is also not concerned about age old beliefs and conceptions being replaced by new ones and concedes that ‘Everything is happing with leaps and bounds’ – at a fast pace.

In these lines the Professor reveals details about himself after going through the details ofhis family. He proudly declares his health is good. Other than age related aches and pains. He seems arrogant when he attributes his good health to the ‘sound habits’ of his youth because he does not suffer from diabetes or blood pressure and still had an healthy heart i.e., he had not suffered any heart attacks.

The Professor briefly turns his focus on his former student and enquires about his health. He seems happy to hear that he is in good health. Without transition the attention is back on him. He reveals that he is sixty-nine years old that year and anticipates living for hundred years – a century.

He reminds his former student that he was thin as a stick during his college days, and points out that ‘he is now a man of weight and consequence’. The Professor may be indicating that now his student had gained weight as well as attained social distinction. He pats himself for the witty remark saying that it was a good joke.

In the concluding lines we come to know that the Professor had met his former student, perhaps when he had been taking a walk on a street next to the one on which his house was located He warmly invites the student to visit his humble residence the next time he happens to be in the area, (but not then). He points out that he lived just at the backside of the house on the opposite side of the street. (Opposite house’s backside).

We note that it is ironical that the Professor being a learned man and an educationist does not seem to dwell on education of his own children or that of student’s children.

Question 6.
The poem takes the Professor away from his role as a teacher and provides the essence of him as a person. Elucidate?
Answer:
In the poem ‘The Professor’ retired Geography professor in his late 60’s meet a former student on the street. The Professor seems to have a very good memory because even in his old age he surprisingly identify his former student, even though the student is how obese and unrecognizable.

He informs his student that he is satisfied that he has executed his parental duty satisfactorily as he had educated his children and ensured they are well-settled in life except his youngest son whom he considers as the ‘black sheep’ of the family. He proudly proclaims that he is the grand father of eleven grand children.

He thinks that the student having only three children is an agreeable number for the modem age. He admits that he is not against family planning. He agrees and accepts the changes that occur over the time. He agrees that India has also become a pro-gressive counting like the rest of the world. He does not me the feet that age old beliefs and conceptions are being replaced by new ones at a fast pace.

He proudly declares that he is fortunate to be healthy even in his 60’s other than age related aches and pains. His appears arrogant and proud when he attributes his good health to the ‘Sound habits’ of his youth, because he is not afflicated with chronic diseases such as diabetes or blood pressure and still has a healthy heart and so he optimistically declares that he will live for hundred and more years.

He shows his wit by joking that he former student has how become a man of weight and consequence i.e., he has become fat and socially distinguished. He is optimistic that his student will again happen to be in his neighbhood and extends a warm invitation to his house. The Professor reminds us of a typical Indian family man homely and an accomodating man.

English Summary

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