Tamil Nadu 11th Standard English Book Answers | Once Upon A Time

11th English: Once Upon A Time

 11th Standard English Book Unit 1.2 Once Upon A Time Book Back Answers.

Unit 1.2 > Once Upon A Time


a. Guess what friendly words of two gentlemen exchange when shaking hands.

A. Hi, friend very glad to meet you
B. Hai I am glad too.
A. Very much memorable moment this is!
B. Yeah I agree with you.

b. The children in the picture are watching an exciting sporting event their school team is winning. Suggest suitable utterances reflecting their feelings:

Hurrah! Our team has won the match
Hey! We are the winners
Ooooooo! Our team deserves the winning

c. Given a chance, any adult would wish to become a child again for many reasons. Fill the boxes with some of what you imagine could be the reasons.

e.g. I need not worry about project deadlines. I will be forgiven for simple mistakes. I can play without worries.  I can joyfully fight with my siblings.
I can wear my pajamas the whole day. I will have stress-free life. I don’t have responsibilities except my studies. I can enjoy the school life with my friends.
I can sleep as long as I like. I am being fondled by my grandparents. I can easily climb the trees and pluck the fruits. I can have more friends.


laugh with their teeth  to fake a laugh, laugh without associated emotions
ice-block-cold eyes eyes lacking a feeling of warmth or endearing expression
search behind my shadow people are hypocritical and they don’t mean what they say
While their left hands search my empty pockets evaluating the narrator’s worth and power or calculating how he could be exploited
cocktail face face showing mixed emotions  conforming smiles like a fixed
portrait smile wearing a standard deceitful artificial smile on all occasions
 good-riddance expression of relief at being free of an unwanted person
fangs teeth of a venomous snake, used to inject poison

1. Based on your understanding of the poem answer the following questions in one or two sentences each.

i. What do you associate with the title of the poem?

The title clearly indicates about the past. I associate that a fairytale may be in a poetic form. Here ‘Once upon a Time’ suggests how people were once. It is far from what is being witnessed in society now.

ii. What is the relationship between the narrator and the listener?

The relationship between the narrator and the listener is father and son.

iii. What happens to the poet when he visits someone for the third time?

When the poet visits someone for the third time, they will get fed up and slam the doors shut. In other words they won’t allow him to come into their house.

iv. Pick out the expressions that indicate conflicting ideas.

The expressions that indicate conflicting ideas are “laugh with their hearts and laugh with their eyes”, and “laugh with their teeth”. Laughing with one’s heart and eyes reveal real gladness. But laughing with one’s teeth reveals one’s external showy love.

v. How does the poet compare his face with dresses?

The poet learnt how to change faces in different situations. Like changing dresses, he is forced to wear facial expressions.

vi. What does the poet mean when he says ‘good bye’?

The poet has been able to change with the society. He has learnt learnt to say ‘good bye’ in an unnatural way.

vii. What pleasantries does the poet use to fake cordiality?

In the first line of the third stanza “Feel at home!”, “Come again” the poet uses fake cordiality. People welcome the guests for two times but the third time they will treat the guests differently.

viii. What does he desire to relearn and unlearn?

The poet desires to learn how to say goodbye in a nice way. He desires to unlearn all the bad habits he has picked up over the years.

ix. How is the poet’s laugh reflected in the mirror?

The poet’s laugh reflected in the mirror is like a snake’s bare teeth.

x. What does the poet long for?

The poet longs for child-like innocence.

xi. Mention the qualities the child in the poem symbolizes.

Innocence and ignorance are the qualities of the child in the poem symbolizes

2. Fill in the blanks choosing the words from the box given and complete the summary of the poem:

relearn adults facial
personal fangs child
fakes superficially duplicity
genuine unlearn  falsity
masks mirror pleasantries

The poet Okara in this narrative monologue painfully condemns the __(a)___ displayed by adults, both in their words and actions. Here, a father laments to his son about the negative changes that creep into the attitude and behaviour of humans, when they grow into __(b)___.

He says that people used to be ___(c)___ when they laugh and the honesty would be reflected in their eyes. But, people of modern times laugh ___(d)____. Their handshakes used to be warm and happy conveying a sense of togetherness, but nowadays the handshakes have become a mere __(e)___.

He warns his son that people are not trust-worthy and have become so selfish that they are concerned only about their own __(f)___ benefits. People utter words of welcome and exchange ___(g)____, but those words come only from the tip of their tongues and not from the depth of their hearts.

Humans have learnt the artof changing their ___(h)____ expressions according to situations merely to ensure social acceptance. They wear___(i)____ and exhibit multiple faces. The narrator admits that he has also changed into a hypocrite. However, he tells his son that though he __(j)____ his expressions, he does all these against his will.

He says he wants to become a __(k)___again and laugh genuinely. He wants to __(l)___ the unreal things and __(m)___how to laugh as he had done once upon a time. When he laughs before the __(n)____, he sees no expression. His teeth are bare like that of the __(o)___ of a snake. So, he asks his son to show him how to laugh the way he used to laugh, when he was a kid like him.

Ans : 

a) duplicity b) adults c) genuine
d) superficially e) fakes f) personal
g) pleasantries h) facial i) falsity
 j) masks  k) child l) unlearn
m) relearn n) mirror o) fangs

A. Interpret each of the following expressions used in the poem, in one or two lines:

i. Laugh with their eyes

The poet means once the people laugh wholeheartedly.

ii. Shake hands without hearts

The poet means nowadays people shake their hands without any involvement. They shake just for formality.

iii. Like a fixed portrait smile

Just like people keep changing dresses to suit different occasions, the poet has learned to behave differently in different situations

iv. Hands search my empty pockets

Nowadays people introduce themselves without any involvement and they estimate other’s value.

v. To unlearn all these muting things

The poet wants to get rid of this false laugh showing only the teeth.

B. Read the lines given below and answer the questions that follow:

i. ‘But now they only laugh with their teeth,
While their ice-block –cold eyes…

a) Who are ‘they?

They are people of modern days.

b) Explain ice-block-cold eyes.

The expression ‘ice-block-cold eyes’ refers to eyes without any warmth of feeling.

c) Identify the figure of speech used here.


‘ii. Most of all, I want to relearn
How to laugh, for my life in the mirror
Shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!’

a) Why does the poet want to relearn how to laugh?

The poet wants to show his real feelings. Hence he wants to relearn how to laugh.

b) Whom does the poet want to relearn from?

The poet wants to relearn from his son.

c) Mention the figure of speech used here.

like a snake’s bare fangs – Simile

C. Explain the following lines with reference to the context:

i. Once upon a time, son
They used to laugh with their hearts


The above lines are taken from the poem “Once Upon a Time” written by Gabriel Okara, a
Nigerian poet.


The poem is a father’s address to his son., where the father wants to learn from his son how to go back to normality and no longer fake. The poem starts by the father telling his son how the people used to laugh with their hearts in olden times.


This description in the poem gives the impression of genuine emotion given off by the people in the past

ii. There will be no thrice


The above lines are taken from the poem “Once Upon a Time” written by Gabriel Okara, a
Nigerian poet.


In the first line of the third stanza “Feel at home!”, “Come again” the poet uses fake cordiality.
People welcome the guests two times but the third time they will treat differently.


Their falseness is reflected in the language they use.

iii. I have learned to wear my faces
Like dresses…..


The above lines are taken from the poem “Once Upon a Time” written by Gabriel Okara, a Nigerian poet.


The poet presents the adaptations and solutions that the man has found to counter the problems. He tells of the false personalities or of his ‘many faces’. He says that he has an ‘office-face, street-face, and host-face, proving that he acts differently under different circumstances. He then adds that they have, ‘conforming smiles, like a fixed portrait’.


This suggests, even more, falseness and changes.

iv. I want to be what I used to be


The above lines are taken from the poem “Once upon a Time” written by Gabriel Okara, a Nigerian poet.


The poet tells his son that he wants to go back to his childhood. He wants to get back his lost identity. He expresses a desire to unlearn whatever he has forced himself to learn.


He asks his son to help him be happy once again and acquire the childlike innocence he once possessed as a child.

4. Answer the following questions in about 100 – 150 words each:

i) Explain the things the poet has learned when he grew into an adult.

Gabriel Okara (the Nigerian poet) brings out the difference between the behavior of the people in the past and their behavior at present. In the past, people laughed with their hearts sincerely. They greeted one another with real gladness. But now, people laugh with any real happiness and greet one another with an artificial, pretended smile. Okara says that he has also learned to behave in an artificial manner like other people.

ii) This poem is nothing but criticism of modern life. Justify this statement.

The background of the poem is that the poet remembers the way people used to behave and interact with each other in the past and how people interact with others now. The purpose of this poem is to try to bring them back to the past behavior with emotion and with their heart. The poem is a father’s address to his son. The son is a small boy and he does things with real emotion. The father wants to forget his fake personality and re-learn really the cordial behavior. And he is asking the son to show him how to express true love and show real feelings to others.

iii. Face is the index of the mind. Does this adage concur with the views of the poet?

“Face is the index of the mind” is a proverb. It means that our facial expressions reveal our feelings—-joy, anger, sorrow, disapproval, etc. This is true to some extent. But in the poem “Once upon a time”, Okara disproves this proverb. Nowadays people greet one another with a smile, but there is no real happiness. On meeting somebody they say “glad to see you”, but they are not really glad, but they are bored. When somebody says, “goodbye” with a smiling face, he (she) is thinking “good riddance” with these examples, Okara proves that the proverb “Face is the index of the mind” cannot be always true

Listening Activity

First, read the questions given below. Next, listen to an excerpt from a poem read out by your teacher or played on a recorder. Note how a child admires and praises the abilities of his/her father. Then tick the right answers from the options given.

i) When the _________needs to be repaired, they have to hire a man.

  1. heater
  2. furnace
  3. stove
  4. oven

Ans: furnace

ii) Father knows no word like_________.

  1. fail
  2. frail
  3. jail
  4. snail

Ans: fail

iii) It is certain that the father would restore the _______of the family members.

  1. glory
  2. prosperity
  3. confidence
  4. happiness

Ans: confidence

iv) The father will not be able to mend a broken________.

  1. table
  2. bench
  3. chair
  4. stool

Ans: chair

v) The children expect their _________ to guide them in action.

  1. mother
  2. father
  3. teacher
  4. guardian

Ans: mother

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