Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel Questions and Answers
- What did the scorpion do?
Ans. The scorpion concealed itself under a rice-bag as it was raining heavily outside for 10 hours. Then getting the chance, it injected its venomus poison into the blood of the poet’s mother and left the shelter totally. But, its effects did not remain a bearable one to an old lady. The poet’s mother was screaming feeling endless agony. In fact, her senses were paralysed by the scorpion’s poison and she felt wordless pain. She was tossing in bed from one side to another in the pain of indescribable sufferings.
- What attitude of the peasants do you get in Ezekiel’s poem?
Ans. Hearing the poet’s mother’s screaming, the neighboring came running to her house and tried a frantic effort to spot out the whereabouts of the scorpion. But, they were superstitious and religious minded. They told that keeping unflinching faith in God, such troubles can be overcome. They also told, the mother’s sufferings in the next life will be reduced for extra suffering in this life. They licked the path on which the scorpion had gone away. They also asserted, if the insect remained still, then the mother’s trouble would be relieved during that night. It is crystal clear that, they always retain their firm belief in some supernatural power.
- What was the difference in the poet’s father?
Ans. The poet’s father was a believer in science and therefore, he was not at all moved by the sacred rites of the peasants. He attempted different medicines to mitigate the agony of his wife. He poured some kerosene on the injured part of her toe and got fired it to burn the poison quickly. It is true that he was not at all unscientific in his attitude. He was out and out a rationalist and had a reasonable approach towards the practical hazards of life.
- What was the reaction of the mother after her recovery?
Ans. The poet’s mother recovered from the wordless pain caused by the biting of the scorpion after 24 hours. After her relief, she expressed her holy wishes to God because it was her fortune that not her children but she herself was stung by that scorpion. The poet felt the nobility of his mother and realised the universal affection that is the only property of all the ladies in this universe is not absent in his mother who wants to die herself in exchange of her children’s lives.
- Describe the nature of the peasants.
Ans. The peasants are superstitious by birth. But they have some superb qualities which make them uncommon. They are unselfish and cordial to their neighbours. To them, the pain. of a neighbour is too much to bear. They come to help their neighbours in all times. They are not friends of good times only. While they heartily attempt to solve the troubles of anyone, at the same time they keep their unprecedented faith in the all powerful power of God. They try to overcome any problem keeping faith in God.
- What is the central theme of “Night of the Scorpion”?
Ans. The central theme of the poem is the power of unity and collective belief in the face of a crisis. It explores the superstitions and rituals followed by the villagers to ward off the effects of the scorpion’s sting and highlights the strength of community and shared beliefs during times of adversity.
- How does the poet portray the mother’s reaction to the scorpion sting?
Ans. The poet portrays the mother’s reaction to the scorpion sting as calm and composed. She does not cry out or panic, showing her strength and resilience. Instead, she remains silent and endures the pain with a sense of acceptance, which is evident from the phrase, “May the poison purify your flesh of desire.”
- What are the villagers’ reactions to the scorpion’s attack?
Ans. The villagers are shown to be frenzied and anxious in the aftermath of the scorpion’s attack. They gather around the mother and attempt various traditional remedies and rituals to counteract the effects of the venom. They light torches, chant prayers, and search for the scorpion to kill it. Their actions demonstrate their belief in the power of collective efforts to confront the danger.
- How does the poet depict the setting of the poem?
Ans. The poet depicts a rural and traditional setting in the poem. It takes place at night, and the scene is described as being in a “village,” where the villagers live close to nature and adhere to age-old customs and beliefs. The reference to “mud-built” houses and “flaring” torches adds to the rural ambiance of the poem.
- What is the significance of the title “Night of the Scorpion“?
Ans. The title “Night of the Scorpion” holds significance as it captures the pivotal event that forms the core of the poem. The scorpion’s attack on the mother and the villagers’ reactions to it shape the narrative, exploring themes of communal beliefs, the power of unity, and the human response to adversity.
- What literary devices does the poet use in the poem?
Ans. Nissim Ezekiel uses several literary devices in the poem, including:
Simile: “diya” (lamp) compared to a “gash” of brightness.
Alliteration: “Parting with his poison” and “swarm of flies.”
Repetition: “May the poison purify” is repeated several times throughout the poem for emphasis.
Imagery: The poet creates vivid images of the scene, such as the mother’s “giant scorpion shadows” and the villagers with their “flaring torches.”
Enjambment: The poet uses enjambment in several lines, flowing from one line to the next without punctuation, to maintain the narrative’s fluidity.
- What is the underlying message or lesson that the poet conveys through the poem?
Ans. Through “Night of the Scorpion,” the poet conveys the idea of the strength of collective beliefs and rituals in times of crisis. The poem explores the superstitious nature of the villagers and their traditional ways of dealing with adversity. It emphasizes the power of unity, community support, and the enduring spirit of the mother who accepts her suffering with stoicism. The poem may also comment on the timeless nature of human beliefs and traditions passed down through generations, even in the face of modernity and scientific knowledge.
- Significance of the Scorpion as a Central Symbol in the Poem.Ans. The scorpion serves as a central symbol in the poem, representing the presence of evil and suffering. It embodies the vulnerability and unpredictability of life. The scorpion’s bite acts as a catalyst, bringing the community together, highlighting their spiritual beliefs, and emphasizing the human instinct to fight against adversity collectively. The scorpion’s role underscores the inherent struggles of human existence and the resilience of the human spirit.
14. How does “Night of the Scorpion” reflect cultural and religious contexts?
Ans. “Night of the Scorpion” explores the cultural and religious traditions of Hinduism, particularly in the context of an Indian village. The poem delves into the influence of these traditions on the community, their beliefs, and their reactions to events, providing insight into the cultural and religious fabric of the setting.