B Wordsworth Questions and Answers ISC Class 11 and Class 12

Short Questions

Part – 1

(a) Describe briefly the narrator’s first meeting with B.Wordsworth.

Answer : The narrator lived in Miguel Street. Three beggars used to call every day at hospitable houses in the street. They would get something or the other from the narrator’s house also. One day a stranger came there. He called the narrator ‘Sonny’ and enquired if he could come inside his yard to watch the bees. The stranger was a tidily dressed man and he spoke very good English. The narrator’s mother grudgingly let the stranger come in. The stranger told ‘Sonny’ that he could watch ants for days. He was fond of watching scorpions, centipedes etc. The stranger further told the narrator that he was a poet and his name was Black Wordsworth (B. Wordsworth). The white Wordsworth (William Wordsworth) was his brother. He also said that like the great poet Wordsworth he could also watch a flower and cry. He also showed the narrator a poem which he had written and he wanted to sell it for four cents. The narrator’s mother rudely dismissed the offer. This was their first meeting.

(b) What do you think, is the message which ‘B.Wordsworth’ wants to convey?

Answer : ‘B.Wordsworth’ is a character-based story. Such a story does not aim at conveying  a message to the society. It is upto the readers to deduce some relevant message from the story. ‘B.Wordsworth’ implicitly coveys a message. It is that good old values such as love, devotion, sincerity, sentimentality and sensitivity have disappeared for the new world. The poet, ‘B.Wordsworth’ and the boy ‘Sonny’ are hypersensitive souls. They are certainly endowed with poetic temperament but are a failure in life. In fact it is the failure of a system. The writer wants to convey the message that the society must ensure conditions in which fine artists like poets could live with honour and dignity.

B.Wordsworth conveys another message also. It is regarding environment. In the name of development, if we go on felling trees to raise concrete buildings it will give birth to many environment related ills.

(c) Comment on the friendship between B.Wordsworth and the boy in the story ‘B.Wordsworth’. Why does their friendship appeal to the readers?

Answer : B.Wordsworth lived in a small hut away from the city . Being creative and imaginative he had no friends. He used to spend his time by going round to sell his property, observing nature and to meet poets. The young boy was fatherless. He too needed love and affection. His mother used to beat him. She used very harsh words for him. No wonder the two became good friends. Their loveliness brought them together.

The friendship between the two is strengthened by the boy’s visit to the poet’s house in Alberto streel. The poet shows the boy his house with a yard having some fruit trees and wild bushes. The boy eats about six mangoes and stains his shirt. When he reaches home he is beaten by his mother for loafing. The boy returns to the poet’s house. The poet’s consoling words provide a healing touch to the boy’s bruised ego. At the poet’s place, they begin to spend a lot of time together. The poet tells the boy a tragic love story of a boy poet and a girl poet. The boy understands it rightly to be the poet’s own story.

Part – 2

(a) Why, according to the poet, is poetry, a source of trouble?

Answer : According to the poetry, is certainly a bad profession. It is often not saleable. That is why when the boy asks his mother if she would like to buy a ‘poetry for four cents’ her sharp response is “Tell that blasted man” (the poet) to “haul his tail away from my yard.”

In such circumstances, the poet can do little to survive.

In fact one of the themes of this story is that in the modern, materialistic world poetry hold no charm. It is  a source of trouble. Poets are crazy, abnormal beings. They have no respect in modern world. They are looked upon a tramps.

B.Wordsworth is a poet. He is working on an ambitious poem. But he has to sing calypsonians in the calypso season to earn some money, though it is not sufficient . Later in the story he takes a U-turn. He denies before the boy ‘Sonny’ that he has any thing to do with poetry. We feel that he is doing this intentionally because he wants to wean the boy from poetry business because he knows that poetry is a source of trouble. He does not want the boy should suffer as he has done in life.

(b) Do you agree with the view that one of the themes of B.Wordsworth is escapism? Discuss and illustrate.

Answer : Escapism can be defined as a habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment to forget about the harsh realities of life. B.Wordsworth is a failure as a poet, but he embraces escapism by excessively praising his own poetry. He is disillusioned and prefers to live in the world of imagination. He admires the great poet William Wordsworth but he never goes ahead with the writing of his most ambitious poem. He knows that in reality nobody has ever bought a single copy of his poetry still he claims that the poem he wants to sell is the ‘greatest poem about mothers’.

B.Wordsworth is an escapist. He has not achieved anything in reality. His dreams are all in his head. His actions do not complement his dreams and aspirations. He wishes to write a poem that would speak to all humanity but he never succeeds. B.Wordsworth is conscious of his escapism. Towards the ending of the story he shatters the boy’s illusion of a romantic world. This he does because he wants the boy not to be an escapist like him. He wants the boy to discover reality and be a part of the real world.

(c) What do you think about the ending of the story? Is it satisfactory or not? Discuss.

Answer : When B.Wordsworth and the boy became very intimate, the former showered love on the latter as if he had been his own son. The boy too became very attached to him. Both spent a lot of time together. The scene of lying together on the grass and watching the stars reveals a poetic sensibility in an unpoetic world. In the company of B.Wordsworth the boy has a new experience something he has never undergone before.

The attachment between the two grows so strong that the boy feels pained on finding the signs of death on the poet’s face. The boy has tears in his eyes. Then he bursts out crying. At this stage B.Wordsworth tells him that whatever he told him about the boy poet and the girls poet (his own story) was all made up. He added that his talk about poetry was also made up. It is doubtful whether the poet is speaking the truth. Perhaps B.Wordsworth denies having been a poet in order to wean the boy from treading his path. He does not want the boy to suffer like him.

The poet’s death shocks the boy. The story, however, does not end on his death. We are told how the boy visits the poet’s house a year later, and is shocked that his house is nowhere to be seen.

………It had been pulled, and a big, two-sided building had taken its place. The mango tree and the plum tree and the coconut tree had all been cut down, and there was brick and concrete everywhere. 

Thus, the story ends on a sad note. The death of the poet has larger meaning. It is suggestive of the demise of an era in which people loved nature and upheld good human values. The new world of ‘brick and concrete’ has no room for the sensitive people like B.Wordsworth. This suggestive ending is quite satisfactory and lends depth to the story.

Part – 3

(a) B.Wordsworth, like his ‘brother’ B.Wordsworth was a lover of nature. Discuss.

Answer : B.Wordsworth is a sensitive fellow. He is a sort of poet who mischievously says that white Wordsworth (William Wordsworth) is his brother. Like his brother the great Romantic poet. B.Wordsworth is also a lover of nature. He likes to watch a variety of objects in nature be it the bees or a small flower. He is fond of natural surroundings. He keeps his yard all green and bushy.

B.Wordsworth has a poetic sensibility and he likes to lie on the grass and watch the stars in the sky. He wants the boy to share his love of nature. Very affectionately he takes the boy out for a walk. The boy too feels big and great while watching the stars above him.

Like his brother W.Wordsworth, he is romantic at heart. In his yard he has a big mango tree, and coconut tree and a plum tree. The place, where B.Wordsworth lived looked wild as though it wasn’t in the city.

B.Wordsworth was a part of nature. A year after his death when the boy visited Alberto Street, he was pained to see that his trees, his bushes were no longer there. It appeared to the boy as if B.Wordsworth had never existed.

(b) Relate in your own words the love story which the poet told the boy. Do you think it was his own story.

Answer :  When the boy and the poet became good friends, the boy asked him why he kept all the bush in the yard. The poet then told him a story. It was of a boy and a girl. They met each other and fell in love. They loved each other so much that they got married. They were both poets. They loved words. The girl loved grass and flowers and trees. They lived happily in the single room. The girl got pregnant. One day she told the poet, “we are going to have another poet in the family.” But unluckily she died with the foetus in her womb . Her husband became very sad, and did not touch anything in the girl’s garden. The garden became bushy and wild.

Yes, I think it was the poet’s own story. As he told the story to the boy, he seemed to grow old.

(c) What was the poet’s dying confession? As he told the story to the boy, he seemed to grow old.

Answer : One day when the boy came to see the poet in his house, his condition was very bad. He began to cry. He told the boy that the poem was not going well. The boy observed that the poet wasn’t looking at him. He was speaking as though the boy wasn’t there. The boy felt that he could see death on his face.

The poet looked at the boy and asked him to come. He pulled the boy to his thin chest and made a shocking confession. He told the boy that the story he had told him earlier about the boy poet and the girl poet was not true. He added that even his talk about poetry and the greatest poem in the world was untrue. He asked the boy to never to return to his place. Then he fell into silence and lay dead. The boy ran home crying, like a poet.

The poet was very intelligent and wise. He had developed a rapport with the boy. He did not want the boy should be another failed poet like him. He had realized that there was no place for good old values such as love for nature, devotion, sincerity, sentimentality and sensitivity in the new world. He made the confession to wean the boy from poetry which is a bad profession.

Part – 4

(a) What is the symbolic significance of the death of B.Wordsworth?

Answer : Before his death B.Wordsworth makes a shocking confession. He tells the boy that everything he told the boy-the story of a boy poet and his wife, a girl poet, and even the talk about poetry-was untrue. He tells the boy never to return to his place. With these words he dies.

The death of B.Wordsworth has a symbolic significance. It implicitly means that good old values such as love, devotion, sentimentality and sensitivity have disappeared in the new world. A year later when the boy walks along Alberto Street where the poet lived, there is no sign of the poet’s house. A two storey building has replaced B.Wordsworth’s house . The trees have been cut down. There is a brick and concrete everywhere. It is again symbolic. Brick and concrete in place of fruit trees and wild green, indicates the demise of an era in which people loved nature and upheld old human values; an era with which William Wordsworth is associated.

(b) What is your assessment of B.Wordsworth? Is he a tramp or a poet? Discuss.

Answer : From the way B.Wordsworth has been introduced in the story, it is difficult to say whether he is tramp or a poet. B.Wordsworth visits the house of the boy whom he calls Sonny one day. He seems to be different from other callers. Soon after his entry he tries to sell a poem in vain. This gives us the impression of his being a tramp. He himself confirms later that he remains out of work most of the time. All this is like a tramp.

But when the friendship between the poet and the boy grows, he tells the boy a tragic story of a boy poet and a girl poet. The boy the realizes that it is the poet’s own story. Towards the ending of the story the poet himself denies everything that he had told the boy. Should we call him a liar? The way he denies everything is very meaningful. We realize the purpose behind it. As a failed poet he has suffered a lot. He does not want that the boy should also suffer like him. He wants to wean him away from poetry business. In the light of this we can’t say that the poet is a tramp. He is poor and needy but he never cheats or begs. He is sincere and loves the boy dearly.

(c) In ‘B.Wordsworth’ how does Naipul contrast two modes of life-the modern and traditional?

Answer : ‘B.Wordsworth’ is set in Trinidad in contemporary times. The natives live with the whites who once ruled them. There is much difference between the ways of life of the natives and the whites. The blacks are suspicious of the ways of their white neighbours. In fact both distrust each other and yet both have to depend upon each other for various needs. The natives are mostly not as refined as the whites. Anybody who speaks English is a suspect in the eyes of the natives. B.Wordsworth is black but his manners are refined. No wonder the boy’s mother instantly dislikes him.

Throughout the story the writer has built up a contrast between the modern world which is developed and refined and the traditional which is fast developing.

It is towards the end that we see a real contrast between the new world and the old one. The development in urban areas in Trinidad is obliquely referred to as a threat to the old world of peace and contentment. The good old values such as love, devotion, sincerity, sentimentality, sensitivity, etc. have almost vanished in the new world. The old world is of course, represented by B.Wordsworth and the boy. They are endowed with simplicity, innocence and sensitivity of the old world. How this world is being pulled down is symbolically represented by the pulling down of the house of the poet after his death:

Thus, the story contrasts two modes of life-harsh and realistic as represented by the boy’s mother and the changes brought about in the manner of development, and the sincere, sentimental way of life as represented by the poet and the boy.

Long Questions

Question 1 : In the story ‘B.Wordsworth’ Naipul contrasts two models of life. Discuss with close reference to the text.

Answer : It is important to note that the story ‘B.Wordsworth’ is set in Trinidad in contemporary times. The black natives live with the whites who once ruled them. There is a lot of difference between the ways of life of the native sand the whites. There is a lot of suspicion in the minds of the blacks about their white neighbours. In fact, both distrust each other, and yet both have to depend upon each other for various needs. Most of the natives are, for example, not so refined and cultured as the whites are. Anybody who speaks good English is a suspect in the eyes of the natives. B.Wordsworth is a black native – ‘B’ stands for Black. However, as he speaks good English and his manners are refined. The boy’s mother develops an instant dislike of him and avoids him. The narrator (the boy) says:

His English was so good, it didn’t sound natural , and I
could see my mother was worried.

Throughout the story the writer has built up a contrast between the modern world which is developed and refined and the traditional which is fast developing.

It is towards the end that we see a real contrast between the new world and the old one. The development in urban areas in Trinidad is obliquely referred to as a threat to the old world of peace and contentment. The good old values such as love, devotion, sincerity, sentimentality, sensitivity, etc. have almost vanished in the new world. The old world is, of course, represented by B.Wordsworth and the boy. They are endowed with simplicity, innocence and sensitivity of the old world. How this world is being pulled down is symbolically represented by the pulling down of the house of the poet after his death:

………..I could find no sign of the poet’s house. It hadn’t Vanished, just like that. It had been pulled, and a big, two-Storied building had taken its place. The mango tree and the plum tree and the coconut tree had all been cut down, and there was brick and concrete everywhere.

Brick and concrete in place of fruit trees and wild green indicates the demise of an era in which people loved nature and upheld human values – an era with which the famous poet, William Wordsworth, is associated, and whom B.Wordsworth calls ‘his brother’ as he too imbibes in him all those qualities and values which Wordsworth has. The boy feels shocked on the death of the poet as somebody dear to him has passed away.

Thus, the story contrasts two modes of life – harsh and realistic as represented by the boy’s mother and the changes brought about in the name of development, and the sincere, sentimental way of life as represented by the poet and the boy.

Question 2 : Comment on the ending of the story. Is it satisfying or not? Discuss with close reference to the story.

Answer : The story ‘B.Wordsworth’ gives a peep into the life of B.Wordsworth who is a poet in the real sense of the world. Like a poet, he is quite sensitive, loving and sincere. He has genuine love of nature. We are not sure whether he writes poems. It is doubtful if he is writing a long poem which is going to be his masterpiece. It is his poetic attitude that draws our attention to him. He showers love on the boy as if he were his own son. The boy, too , becomes very attached to him. Both spend a lot of time together. The scene of their lying together on the grass and watching the stars reveals a poetic sensibility in an unpoetic world. The boy has a new experience , something he has never undergone before. He recalls the scene in vivid terms:

I had never felt so big and great in all my life.
I forgot all my anger and all my tears and all the blows.

The attachment between B.Wordsworth and the boy grows so strong that the boy feels pained on finding the signs of death on the poet’s face. The boy has tears in his eyes then be bursts out crying. It is at this stage that the poet tells him that what he told him about the boy poet and the girl poet (his own story) was made up, as was his talk about poetry. Does he speak the truth? There is a genuine doubt about it. Perhaps the poet denies having been a poet in order to stop the boy from treading his path. He does not want him to suffer like him.

The poet’s death shocks the boy. The story, however, does not end on his death. We are told how the boy visits the poet’s house a year later, and is shocked that his house is nowhere to be seen.

…………It had been pulled, and a big, two-storied building had taken its place. The mango and the plum tree and the coconut tree had all been cut down, and there was brick and concrete everywhere.

Thus, the story ends on a sad note. The death of the poet has larger meaning. It is suggestive of the demise of an era in which people loved nature and upheld good human values. The new world of ‘brick and concrete’ has no room for the sensitive people like B.Wordsworth. This suggestive ending is quite satisfactory and lends depth to the story.

Question 3 : What do you think of B.Wordsworth – a tramp or a poet? Discuss with examples from the text.

Answer : It is quite difficult to judge the protagonist in the story ‘B.Wordsworth’. Our first impression about him is that he may be one of those tramps who move from place to place asking people for food or money. Such tramps are alluded to by the narrator in the beginning of the story. His house is visited daily by three beggars, an old woman and a blind man for food. “Sometimes we had a rouge”, as he recalls the days of his boyhood. B.Wordsworth is one such person who one day calls and asks if he can come in and watch bees. He seems to be different from others. But after his entry into the house, he tries to sell a poem in vain. This gives us the impression of his being a tramp. Later, he confirms that he remains out of work most of the time. In the calypso season he sings calypsoes to make some money.

But does this make him a tramp? It is quite doubtful. Unlike a tramp, he has a house with a lot of greenery and fruit trees. His love of nature becomes clear. He loves to watch all kinds of insects. Once he asks the boy to lie down on the grass and they both watch stars. He also mentions his writing a great poem. However, the way he describes it is quite mysterious:

‘I have been working on it for more than five years now. I will finish it in about twenty-two years from now, that is, I keep on writing at the present rate’.

When he adds that he writes one line a month, we are shocked. What sort of poet is he? Later, he asks the boy to forget whatever he has told him about his poem. He has told the boy a tragic story about a boy poet and a girl poet who fall in love and marry, but the girl dies with child in her womb. The boy realizes that it is the poet’s own story. However, B.Wordsworth says that the story about the boy and the girl is all a lie.

Now if we believe that he is a liar, he becomes a sort of tramp. But the way he denies everything about the story and his poem reveals that there is some purpose behind his denial. As a failed poet he has suffered a lot. He finds in the boy a poet, at least a sensitive soul. It is while dying that he denies the truth of his story and his being poet, perhaps in fear that the boy might follow him and suffer.

Thus, it becomes really difficult to say whether B.Wordsworth is a tramp or a poet. We feel that he is a failed and dejected poet. He is not a tramp in the negative sense. He is poor and needy, yet he never cheats or begs.

Question 4 : The short story ‘B.Wordsworth’ explores an unusual friendship between an old man and a boy. 

Answer : B.Wordsworth , an old man, is a failed poet as he claim s to be. He may be a tramp also. His true identity remains ambiguous. We are likely to presume from the given facts that he is a good-intentioned, sensitive and emotional person. He does not want to harm the boy or anyone else in the world.

He befriends the boy simply because he has fallen for him because of the boy’s poetic temperament. It is the boy who makes his mother let him come into their house to watch bees. Again, it is he who lets his mother know the stranger’s offer of a poem for four cents. He comes close to the man as he flatters him by saying that he is a poet:

I said, “You really think I is a poet?”

“You’re as good as me,” he said.

The friendship between the two is strengthened by the boy’s visit to the poet’s house in Alberto Street. The poet shows the boy his house with a yard having some fruit trees, wild bushes, etc. The boy eats about six mangoes and stains his shirt. When he reaches home, he is badly beaten by his mother for loafing. He returns to the poet’s house. The poet’s consoling words provide a healing touch to the boy’s bruised ego. They come out and walk to a race course, lie down on the grass and watch stars in the sky. The poet tries to make the boy learn from nature.

The friendship between the poet and the boy grows further. They begin to spend a lot of time together. The poet tells the boy a tragic love story of a boy poet and a girl poet. The boy understands it rightly to be the poet’s own story. The poet also claims to be writing ‘the greatest poem on earth’. The boy shows wonder at the ambitious project.

As the time passes, the boy finds the poet very ill. He seems to grow older and weaker. One day he asks the boy never to return to him. He says that his story about the boy poet and the girl poet was untrue, and that all his talk about poetry was a lie. He passes away, as he ‘confesses’. His death breaks the bond of friendship with the boy.

Sincerity and selflessness in the friendship of the poet and the boy appeal to us the most. It is perhaps out of his thoughtfulness that the poet dubs himself a liar. His purpose seems to wean away the boy from treading his path and suffer like him. The boy’s ‘crying’ out at his death reveals the extent of personal loss to him.