Gul Mohar English Class 8 Chapter - 3 So What Are You, Anyway?

Gul Mohar Edition 9 Orient Blackswan

Gul Mohar English Chapter - 3 So What Are You, Anyway?

Writer of the story - Lawrence Hill
Question and Answers
Question 1: “What are you anyway?”
a) What did the Nortons want to know about Carole?
The Nortons were curious about Carole’s ethnic origin as they had noticed that her skin tone differed from theirs. So they could not resist asking Carole about her racial identity. They asked outrageous questions in an arrogant way. When none of these questions revealed what her race was, Mr. Norton could not hold his patience. He directly asked Carole, “What are you anyway?" He meant to find out what her racial identity was.

b) What do you think is problematic with the question? Does the word ‘what’ make a person seem less than human? How?
The question discriminates between races and said in a derogatory fashion. Innocent Carole was targeted and demeaned for the color of the skin. Though she doesn’t understand the concept of race she felt uncomfortable with the question.
The pronoun ‘what’ is generally used for inanimate objects. When we address a human being we definitely don’t use “what” .The pronoun attributed to living objects is ‘who’. When the Nortons ask Carole ‘what’ she is, it makes her seem less of a human.
The body language and the manner in which the question is posed makes a person feel inferior and a threat to mankind. Carole had to tolerate a nasty humiliation for no fault of hers.

c) Is there any word or phrase in the story that does the same thing?
“They’re neither one thing nor other”. This phrase dehumanizes Carole by making here merely a “thing.”

Question 2: Answer these questions about Carole and her understanding of race.
a) Does Carole understand the terms ‘race’ and ‘mulatto’?
Carole does not understand the term ‘race’. But from the tone of Nortons she can deduce that it is something bad. She has not heard of the word ‘mulatto’, either. She is so taken aback when she is asked whether she is a mulatto or not, she fumbles and asks what the word meant.

b) When Carole first sees the Nortons, does she identify them as white-skinned? What is the word she uses to describe Mr. Norton?
When Carole first sees the Nortons, she does notice Mr. Norton’s sunburnt face. But the skin color does not strike her as different from her own skin tone.
The word Carole uses to describe Mr. Norton is big.
She also notices that his face is sunburned.

c) Do you think Carole understands color of skin or race as a major difference between people?
Carole is too young and too innocent to comprehend the differences that divide the world. Even though she thinks that Mr. Norton’s face is a bit sunburnt, it does not bother her that he is of a different skin tone. In sharp contrast are the Nortons filled with ill-will whose sole concern is to discover Carole’s ethnic identity.

Question 3: Answer the questions about the Nortons.
a) What is the first thing that Norton notices about Carole?
The first thing that Mr. Norton notices about Carole was her black doll Amy. He was baffled to see it and exclaimed that he had never seen anything like that in his entire life.

b) In the story Mrs. Norton said that ‘the world is not ready’ for mixed people though she does not mind them. Do you think she is being honest about her feelings? How do you know?
Mrs. Norton is honest about her feelings for mixed people because she does not mind Carole as much as Mr. Norton does. In fact, she keeps reminding Mr. Norton that she is just a child. She makes little gestures, asks Mr. Norton to wake the girl up for the meal. She also urges Mr. Norton to make way for Carole when she gets up to go to the washroom.

c) What do you think is the difference between Carole and the Nortons in the way they approach people? Do they treat everyone equally?
Carole is too young to be conscious of discrimination of race and ethnicity that make people feel superior. Hence her approach to most people is non - judgemental. In sharp contrast, the Nortons were from the very beginning disapproving of Carole. They kept prodding her about her ethnic identity and wondered if she is of mixed race.
Norton being a racist, cannot tolerate and accept different race. Norton’s discriminate people on the basis of race and look down at them as inferior.             

Question 4: “I never use just one color.”
a) What is Carole talking about?
Mr. Norton, curious about Carole’s ethnic roots asks her what color she would make her father’s face, if she were to draw him. Carole is puzzled by this peculiar question and obviously does not know what color to use. So she says that she would never use one color.

b) Carole’s mother is a white woman. But Carole says she would color her using many different colors. Why do you think that is?
Carole wants to color her mother in different shades, inspite of the fact that she is a white woman. This is because there is no one color to depict the whiteness of the skin. She falters and says that she could be yellow. But when the Nortons ask if her mother is Chinese, she disagrees. She then mentions that her mother’s face could be red.
Moreover, at such a young age Carole is not aware how differences in skin tone denote one’s ethnic identity.

c) What does this tells us about the labels ‘black’ and ‘white’ that are used for people?  Are they accurate? Do children think in terms of these labels?
The labels ‘black’ and ‘white’ are nothing but social constructs. These designated labels are inaccurate as they make children fretful and peevish as well as spoil their innocence and purity of heart.
Social prejudices are humiliating. Though children cannot recognize sarcasm but can realize the bad intention of people who try to insult them on the basis of ethnicity and skin tone. Children do not recognize these labels unless they are consciously made aware of their ethnic origins and racial standing in the society.

Question 5: What do you think Carole has learned about people and their attitude towards race? Do you think her innocent outlook on life will remain the same after the flight?
Young Carole, who was so far not affected by racial discrimination, was made conscious of her own racial identity by the Nortons. She understood that she was ‘mulatto’, a child of parents who were not of the same ethnic identity. This realization was bound to change her innocent and naΓ―ve outlook and leaves an everlasting impact on her life and will strengthen her to protect her against the racial discrimination in the society.

Question 6: Do you think it was thoughtless of the Nortons to ask a child such questions? Would they have asked an adult the same questions?
It was thoughtless and insensitive of the Nortons to ask Carole intrusive and unnecessary questions about her racial identity. They didn’t comprehend that their behavior was invasive and disrespectful. They knew that she was a child, travelling without her parents. They took advantage of her vulnerability and innocence, asking her insensitive questions.
They probably would not have dare to ask an adult the same questions.


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