Class 12 Memories of Childhood: Answers to Your Questions

Chapter 6 of the Class 12 English Vistas Book contains two powerful and moving stories, "The Cutting of My Long Hair" by Zitkala-Sa and "We Too Are Human Beings" by Bama. Both stories offer a unique perspective on the experiences of childhood and growing up, and they are both essential reading for students preparing for the CBSE 2023-24 Board exams.

In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions about these two stories, including:

  • What are the key themes of each story?
  • What are the literary devices used by the authors?
  • How do the stories relate to the CBSE syllabus?
  • What are some tips for answering exam questions on these stories?

Whether you are a student, a teacher, or simply someone who is interested in these important stories, we encourage you to read on!

memories of childhood class 12 questions answers

SubjectEnglish Language & Literature
Chapter NameMemories of Childhood
TypeImportant Questions and Answers
Book NameVistas Chapter 6

"Only you can Change your life, no one can do it for you...."

I. The Cutting of My Long Hair

Q. No. 1) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

i. “Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!” This statement is an example of

a. a belief

b. an opinion

c. a myth

d. a fallacy

Ans. Option (a)

ii. In the light of the following statement, choose the option that lists the characteristics of Zitkala-Sa. “No, I will not submit! I will struggle first!”

  1. servile
  2. audacious
  3. cocky
  4. brash
  5. resolute
  6. gutsy

a. 1, 2 and 5

b. 2, 5 and 6

c. 1, 3 and 5

d. 2, 4 and 6

Ans. Option (b)

Q. No. 2) Multiple Choice Questions based on an extract.

I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.

i.‘Then I lost my spirit’. Choose the option that DOES NOT refer to ‘spirit’.

  1. resolve
  2. energy
  3. determination
  4. indifference
  5. enthusiasm
  6. will power

a. 1, 2 and 5

b. 2, 4 and 6

c. 1, 3 and 6

d. 3, 4 and 6

Ans. Option (c)

ii. Look at the given images of books. Which of the following conveys the idea of the extract?

memories of childhood class 12 important questions answers

a. Option 1

b. Option 2

c. Option 3

d. Option 4

Ans. Option (d)

iii. How would you describe the author’s tone when she says, “I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder”?

a. austere

b. apathetic

c. dismal

d. resentful

Ans. Option (c)

iv. Choose the correct option with reference to the two statements given below.

  • Statement 1: The author had been subjected to humiliation when she was separated from her mother.
  • Statement 2: Nobody was able to ease her distress and empathize with her.

a. Statement 1 is true but Statement 2 is false.

b. Statement 1 is false but Statement 2 is true.

c. Both Statement 1 and Statement cannot be inferred from the passage

d. Both Statement 1 and Statement 2 can be inferred from the passage.

Ans. Option (d)

Q. No. 3) Zitkala-Sa mentions the indignities she had to suffer as a child. How do such indignities break the morale of a child?

Ans. Indignities inflicted upon a child, like the forced haircut Zitkala-Sa experienced, erode their self-esteem and cultural identity. Such actions make children feel powerless and ashamed, leading to a loss of confidence and morale as they grapple with the trauma and injustice imposed upon them.

Q. No. 4) Read the given extract and answer the questions given.

The man ceased his mutterings, and then a third bell was tapped. Everyone picked up his knife and fork and began eating. I began crying instead, for by this time I was afraid to venture anything more. But this eating by formula was not the hardest trial in that first day. Late in the morning, my friend Judewin gave me a terrible warning. Judewin knew a few words of English; and she had overheard the paleface woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!

i. Which of these can be inferred from the extract?

a. The speaker did not understand or speak English.

b. The speaker did not think highly of her own culture.

c. The speaker did not have any living family members.

d. The speaker did not know what a knife or fork was used for.

Ans. Option (a)

ii. How was the speaker feeling by the time the third bell rang? Why did she feel this way?


  • The speaker started crying because she felt confused and out of place.
  • She couldn't understand the rituals and was probably feeling embarrassed.
  • She was too scared to act because she was not able to do anything correctly.

iii. Complete the given sentence appropriately. The speaker compares her experience of eating to that of a trial because __________.


  • she was being watched and judged throughout
  • it felt like a test of her survival
  • it was as grueling as a trial in court might have been

iv. Based on the extract, what would it mean to the speaker if her long hair was cut?


  • It would mean a loss of her culture/cultural identity
  • It would bring her shame
  • It would cut her roots to her culture and traditions

Q. No. 5) What were the indignities that Zitkala-Sa had to suffer for being from a marginalized community?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa suffered various indignities due to her marginalized Native American identity, including being:

  1. Tossed around like a wooden puppet: This phrase suggests that she was treated with disrespect and handled roughly, as if her feelings and dignity didn't matter.
  2. Humiliated like a coward: Zitkala-Sa was subjected to humiliation, which can be deeply damaging to one's self-esteem, and this treatment likely made her feel powerless and degraded.
  3. Treated like an animal with no one to comfort her: Being treated as less than human and having no emotional support or comfort exacerbated her sense of isolation and despair.

These indignities highlight the emotional and psychological impact of discrimination and cultural suppression on a child's psyche.

Q. No. 6) “Where there is oppression, there will be resistance.” Comment on this statement with reference to the story.

Ans. In the story, Zitkala-Sa's resistance to the oppression she faced is evident when she refuses to eat at the school for days and when she tries to escape by running away. Her actions reflect the innate human spirit to resist and fight against injustice and oppression, even in the face of adversity.

Q. No. 7) A grown-up Zitkala-Sa, reflects on the incident about cutting of her long hair and is conflicted that she did not do enough to resist and surrendered easily. She also wonders if she could have tried something else to prevent the incident.

As the grown-up Zitkala-Sa, create a diary entry, expressing these thoughts and conclude by absolving yourself of any blame.

You may begin like this:

I find myself reflecting on an event that happened many years ago…

Ans. I find myself reflecting on an event that happened many years ago, one that has continued to haunt me ever since. It is the incident where my long hair was forcefully cut off at the Carlisle Indian School. As I sit here today, I cannot help but feel conflicted about my actions that day.

On one hand, I am proud that I stood up for myself and refused to submit to their demands at first. I remember the fire in my belly as I declared that I would struggle before giving in. However, as time passed, my spirit wavered, and eventually, I allowed them to cut my hair. Looking back now, I cannot help but feel that I gave in too easily and that I did not do enough to resist.

As I ponder over what I could have done differently, I realize that there might have been other options. Perhaps I could have sought help from my fellow students. Maybe I could have tried to escape or find another way out of the situation. But at that moment, I was so overwhelmed and confused that I could not think straight.

I know that I have blamed myself for this incident for far too long. But today, I choose to absolve myself of any blame. As a young girl, I was forced into a strange place. I was not given the chance to make my own choices, to decide what was best for me. I was a victim of a system that sought to strip away my identity and forced me to assimilate.

Today, I choose to forgive myself and honor the brave little girl who stood up for herself that day. I am grateful for her courage and strength, and I will continue to honor her memory by fighting for justice and equality for all.

II. We Too are Human Beings

Q. No. 8) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

i. The chapter ‘We Too are Human Beings’ is __________ the book named ‘Karukku’ by Bama.

a. a preface to

b. the blurb for

c. an excerpt from

d. the foreword of

Ans. Option (c)

ii. “At times, people from various political parties would arrive put up a stage, and harangue us through their mikes.” In which of the following options is the word ‘harangue’ NOT used correctly?

a. The director would often harangue his employees.

b. The professor had no right to harangue by the student.

c. The harangue of the student was applauded by the audience.

d. As the man moved closer, he began to harangue uncontrollably.

Ans. Option (c)

Q. No. 9) Multiple Choice Questions based on an extract.

When I heard this, I didn’t want to laugh anymore, I felt terribly sad. How could they believe that it was disgusting if one of us held that package in his hands, even though the vadai had been wrapped first in a banana leaf, and then parcelled in paper? I felt so provoked and angry that I wanted to touch those wretched vadais myself straightaway. Why should we fetch and carry for these people, I wondered. Such an important elder of ours goes meekly to the shops to fetch snacks and hands them reverently, bowing and shrinking, to this fellow who just sits there and stuffs them into his mouth. The thought of it infuriated me.

i. The elder handing snacks reverently, bowing and shrinking to the fellow indicates that the ‘fellow’ was

  1. condescending.
  2. unassuming.
  3. submissive.
  4. disdainful.
  5. aggressive
  6. domineering.

a. 2, 3 and 6

b. 1, 4 and 5

c. 1, 4 and 6

d. 2, 3 and 4

Ans. Option (c)

ii. Pick an idiom that DOES NOT describe how the author felt about this incident.

a. at the end of one’s tether

b. be in a black mood

c. up in arms

d. throw up one’s hands

Ans. Option (d)

iii. Based on the given context, choose the option that illustrates when a person can be provoked, out of the examples given below.

  1. The employees organized a peaceful protest outside the firm.
  2. The manager ill-treated one of the employees and wrongfully terminated him.
  3. The employees wrote a letter of complaint against the manager.
  4. The director of the firm scheduled a meeting for reconciliation.

a. Option 1

b. Option 2

c. Option 3

d. Option 4

Ans. Option (b)

iv. The given extract DOES NOT talk about

a. author’s realization of her misconception.

b. elders being ill-treated in her society.

c. the haughtiness of the ‘fellow’.

d. how the author was enraged.

Ans. Option (b)

Q. No. 10) Children relish the small pleasures of life just like Bama did when she dawdled along on her way back from school, enjoying all the novelties. Elaborate.

Ans. Children relish the small pleasures of life because they have a natural sense of curiosity and wonder. They are not jaded or cynical by the world around them. Everything is new and exciting to them.

Bama, the girl in the story, is a good example of this. She dawdled along on her way home from school, enjoying all the novelties. She stopped to look at a street light that was changing colors, and she watched a narikkuravan man with his wild lemur.

Q. No. 11) Bama’s innocence was lost when she came face to face with the ugly truth of racial discrimination. Do you think children who have a difficult childhood become even more resolute than children who have a comfortable one?

Ans. Experiencing hardships and injustices during childhood can indeed foster resilience and determination. Children who face adversity may develop a stronger resolve to overcome challenges, as they learn to confront difficulties head-on, whereas those with a comfortable upbringing might not develop the same level of resilience.

Q. No. 12) Recall the story 'We too are Human Beings' from the text 'Memories of Childhood’.

Imagine that Bama stops the elderly man who was carrying the packet of vadais, and strikes up a conversation with him. She asks him a couple of questions. As the man, responds to Bama's questions. You may follow the given format and include the two questions in your conversation.

Bama: Hi sir, I noticed that you were carrying that packet in a funny manner. Why were you doing so?

Elderly man: ...

Bama: But that's terrible. How does that make you feel?

Ans. Bama: Hi sir, I noticed that you were carrying that packet in a funny manner. Why were you doing so?

Elderly man: That may have looked funny to you, but I didn't really have a choice. People in our community often don't have choices. We belong to a caste whose people are considered 'untouchable'. The people of higher castes look at us as dirty, polluted people. So, anything we touch also becomes 'polluted'. I was carrying the vadai packet by the string so that I didn't pollute it with my touch.

Bama: But that's terrible. How does that make you feel?

Elderly man: Well, this has been my life since I was born. I do not know anything else. Yet, every time this happens, I feel deeply humiliated. I am made to feel small and I am rejected for something I cannot change. I hope things will be different when you are my age.

Q. No. 13) Imagine your school has organized a panel discussion on ‘Oppression and Its Evils.’ You are one of the speakers. As part of your address, you are required to reflect on the lessons and ideas from the story, ‘Memories of Childhood’.

Draft the address.

You may begin like this:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen! It is a pleasure to be given an opportunity to speak today. I would like to begin by quoting James Baldwin, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ Tolerating oppression in any form is…

Ans. Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

I'd like to begin today's discussion by quoting James Baldwin, who said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." These words resonate deeply with the themes we find in the stories "Memories of Childhood," specifically, "The Cutting of My Long Hair" and "We Too Are Human Beings." These narratives exemplify the profound impact of oppression and discrimination on individuals, particularly children.

In "The Cutting of My Long Hair," we witness the cultural suppression faced by Zitkala-Sa, a Native American child. She was forcibly stripped of her cultural identity through the cutting of her long hair, an act that symbolized the erasure of her heritage. Her story reminds us of the importance of cultural diversity and the consequences of oppressing it.

Similarly, "We Too Are Human Beings" sheds light on the struggles of Bama, a Dalit girl, facing discrimination in India. Her story highlights the resilience of marginalized communities in the face of systemic oppression.

Both narratives teach us that tolerating oppression in any form is detrimental to society. It is our collective responsibility to confront and challenge these injustices. As we discuss "Oppression and Its Evils" today, let us remember that change can only begin when we acknowledge and address these issues head-on, just as these stories have done. It's time for us to face the evils of oppression and work towards a more just and inclusive world. Thank you.

Q. No. 14) Both Bama and Zitkala-Sa are victims of discrimination that is practiced in the society. What kind of experience did both of them go through?

Ans. Both Bama and Zitkala-Sa, in their autobiographical accounts as women from marginalized communities, endured similar experiences of discrimination and prejudice at the hands of mainstream culture. They exemplify bravery by using their education and talents to stand up for themselves and their communities' rights, employing the power of the written word as a means of resistance.

Zitkala-Sa's first day at school was an unpleasant ordeal. She struggled to understand the unfamiliar rules at the breakfast table, making several mistakes. The most traumatic incident was when she was tied to a chair, and her long hair was forcibly cut. This act of humiliation crushed her spirit, symbolizing the erasure of her Native American identity.

In Bama's case, she encountered untouchability at a very young age and witnessed its impact on an elder member of her community. Her brother advised her to work hard to regain honor and dignity, emphasizing the importance of education and self-respect in the face of societal prejudice. Both women's stories reflect the resilience and determination required to challenge and overcome the discrimination ingrained in their respective societies.

Q. No. 15) Both Bama and Zitkala Sa experienced the harsh reality of discrimination in their childhood. Instead of letting it pull them down, they both found a way to overcome it. You wish to include a cameo* of both in your upcoming blog post.

As a part of the research, compare and contrast the experiences faced by the two and their response/s to these experiences, in 120-150 words. [Clue: Include the similarities and differences in the discrimination they faced - their feelings - determination to overcome – success]

*a short description that neatly encapsulates someone or something

Ans. Both of them faced discrimination; Zitkala Sa was discriminated against because of cultural differences while Bama faced discrimination due to her caste.

Zitkala sa rebelled and refused to get her hair cut. She put up a strong fight, though had to give in finally. Bama was enraged and wanted to go and touch the packet of vadai to teach a lesson to the landlord. But was guided by her elder brother to calm down. He showed her the path to overcome discrimination.

Both of them worked hard to excel in education.

Both succeeded as writers among other things; They have written much against discrimination and evils of oppression, thus continuing the fight for justice for their communities.

Q. No. 16) Imagine Zitkala- Sa and Bama meet each other. They both share their experience of being from marginalized communities. They reflect on instances of oppression they faced and how those instances proved to be the source of strength to fight against such oppression.

Write down their discussion in a creative way, with reference to their experiences.

Ans. Sitting under the shade of a sprawling tree, Zitkala-Sa and Bama shared stories of their remarkable journeys. They marveled at how their experiences as women from marginalized communities had shaped them.

Zitkala-Sa began, "I remember my first day at that boarding school, Bama. I was just a child, and they tied me to a chair, cutting my long hair to force assimilation. It was humiliating, but it became the source of my determination to preserve our culture."

Bama nodded, her eyes filled with understanding. "I too faced oppression from a young age. Untouchability was a harsh reality, and I saw an elder in my community suffer. It fueled my resolve to rise above it."

Zitkala-Sa continued, "Our experiences, as painful as they were, taught us the importance of education and the power of the pen. We've used our words to fight against oppression, haven't we?"

Bama smiled, "Yes, Zitkala-Sa, and in sharing our stories, we give hope to others facing similar struggles. Our strength lies in turning those moments of despair into sources of inspiration."

Their meeting was a testament to the resilience born from adversity, two remarkable women from different corners of the world, united by their shared determination to fight oppression.

Also Read:
Class 12 Important Questions and Answers
Class 12 Notes

Hope you liked these questions and answers from Class 12 English Memories of Childhood by Zitkala-Sa and Bama. Please share this with your friends and do comment if you have any doubts/suggestions to share.

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