NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English for Up from Slavery
Question 1: Describe the character traits of General Armstrong.
Answer: General Armstrong was a man of principles. He dedicated his life for amelioration of the Blacks without displeasing the White people. He was a very noble and kind hearted person. Washington said that he was “a perfect man.” The student community at Hampton worshipped him. General Armstrong was pragmatic, practical and experienced. He knew Washington would do something different at Tuskegee. So, he suggested his name to the people of Alabama. He was a dynamic man who had a different perspective than others. His vision shaped the destiny of innumerable youngsters. The philosophy of education that he imparted at Hampton proved to be a boon to the meritorious and industrious scholars of the Negro community. Armstrong did not cherish bitterness against the South. Washington felt indebted to him. Washington learnt from him that “great men cultivate love and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.” He also taught people through his conduct that “assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong: and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.” Armstrong served the people without any selfish motive and vested interest. He helped Washington to raise funds for Tuskegee Institute. It proves that he was supportive and helpful. Armstrong believed in hard work. He kept devising ways and means to uplift the Blacks when he was stricken with paralysis. His limbs stopped working and made him helpless. But he was so determined that paralysis could not prevent him from serving his countrymen. He was a perfect educationist, an excellent administrator and a sincere friend.
Question 2: Draw the character sketch of Mrs Viola Ruffner.
Answer: Washington came to know about a vacant position in the household of General Lewis Ruffher, the owner of the salt furnace and coal-mine. Mrs Viola Ruffner was his wife and a “Yanku” woman from Vermont. She was very strict with her servants. She believed in cleanliness and wanted everything clean. She wanted that things should be done promptly and systematically. She had firm faith in the significance of absolute honesty and frankness. Washington learnt life skills there. Washington said that “the lessons that I learned in the home of Mrs Ruffner were as valuable to me as any education I have ever gotten anywhere else.” Mrs Ruffner was encouraging and sympathetic. She always inspired Washington to get an education. He also developed his first library in the company of Mrs Ruffner. She was friendly and amiable. Washington could gratify the head teacher at Hampton only because of the training he received at the residence of Mrs Ruffner. She was really a different kind of woman.
Question 3: Draw the character sketch of Booker T. Washington.
Answer: Booker T. Washington belonged to a very poor family. He was an African-American and worked for the betterment of his community throughout his life. He was an educator, orator and social worker. The principles of his life were to provide the community with his valuable services. He never expected anything in return. His positive thoughts paved the way for posterity. The philanthropic deeds of Washington made him popular. He argued that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate “industry, thrift, intelligence and property.” He established Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama with enthusiasm. He felt convinced that with self-help, people could go from poverty to success. He conceived that by providing needed skills to society, Afro-Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by white Americans. He believed that blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by acting as responsible, reliable American citizens. He was social, amiable and humble. His hard work was key to his success. He never shirked work. His vision made him a grand success in Atlanta. He discharged all responsibilities sincerely, and honestly. He did everything with dedication and devotion. The vicissitudes of life made him practical and experienced. He never despised the white or the rich. His public speeches got appreciation from every comer. In short, it can be said that Washington was a noble soul who lived for others only.
Question 4: Draw the character sketch of John.
Answer: John was Washington’s alder brother. He was supportive, responsible, hardworking and social. He helped Washington in going to Hampton and was habitual of sending money to him. He worked in the coal-mines to support the family. He willingly neglected his own education to assist Washington. He was also sent to Hampton later. He worked for Tuskegee Institute and held the important position of Superintendent of Industries. John also shouldered his family responsibilities. When his mother died, Washington was not at home. He found Washington in a deserted house at three o’clock in the morning and gave him the sad news. John’s sacrifice for the members of his family is really praiseworthy.
Question 5: Write a short note on the plot of ‘Up from Slavery’.
Answer: Slavery is the most dehumanising institution in the world of mortals. It has been in existence since the dawn of civilization. The Afro-Americans were also enslaved in America. As a result of slavery many people went astray Many talented people could not reach that destination which they could easily attain. Booker T. Washington is also one of them. In his autobiography “Up From Slavery” Booker describes the hurdles and obstacles he overcame as a born slave in pre-Civil War Virginia. He also portrays the pathetic condition of the slaves and elaborates the feelings of the Negroes on the Emancipation Proclamation Day. He mentions his achievements during his life. This book was written in 1901 and is an inspiring classic story of the American self-made man. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery to an enslaved woman and a white man from another plantation. He did not know the actual date of his birth. He lived in pitiable conditions as a slave. Their masters constrained them to live in filthy surroundings. But they did not despise the white people. When they were set free, Booker’s family left with very few possessions and had an arduous trek to Malden, West Virginia. Booker’s step father found a salt-mining job there. Booker’s mother noticed that he was passionately interested in learning to read. So, she gave him an Old Webster’s “Blue Black” spelling book. Booker also attended the high school after toiling hard in the coal-mine. He also worked as a servant to an old woman named Mrs Ruffner. He strove hard to join the Hampton Institute and succeeded in his effort. He was to work there as a janitor. His work was irksome and tiring. But he enjoyed it. He graduated from Hampton in 1875 and impressed General Armstrong with his excellent performance. He was given the responsibility to establish a school in Alabama. Booker accepted Armstrong’s proposal in 1881. He taught for many years and was involved with students. Later Booker continued his education and received an honorary degree from Harvard in 1896. He went to Europe and delivered many speeches. His selfless work for his community was a source of fascination to all the influential people. His life and work impressed President Roosevelt and he was also invited to the White House. The book proves that those who uphold the principles of hard work never get disappointed in life. This literary piece has the knack to galvanise even the cynics. It can stir any individual to struggle for excellence. This autobiography reveals the bare fact that an unfortunate man is he who does nothing for mankind. This book is written in the first person. It is an inspiring and informative book for every reader.
Question 6: Give a pen-portrait of Booker’s mother.
Answer: Washington’s mother was Jane. She was a slave. She never identified his white father. He was, perhaps, a nearby planter. His mother was the plantation cook. It was not possible for her to spare time for her children during day time. But she was very caring and understanding. Washington wrote about her that “One of my earliest recollections is that of my mother cooking chicken late at night, and awakening her children for the purpose of feeding them.” Washington always felt indebted to his mother. She was compassionate and helpful. She procured an old copy of Webster’s “Blue-Black” spelling book for her son. She never discouraged Washington. Washington opined that “In all my efforts to learn to read my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathised with me and aided me in every way that she could.” It was a fact that she was ignorant. But she had high ambitions for her children. She had common sense and patience to handle every trying circumstances. Booker felt that “If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother.” She was very hard working, responsible, social and honest.
Question 7: What was one of Washington’s great fears when sent on errands to the mill?
Answer: Washington was to go to the mill once a week. It was about three miles from the plantation. He always dreaded this work. The heavy bag of com would be placed across the back of the horse. It was his bad lot that every time the bag would fall off the horse. He was to wait their for hours so that he could seek the help from others. In this way he used to reach home late. The road was a lonely one and often led through dense forest. He was always frightened. The forests were said to be full of soldiers who had deserted from the army. He was told that these deserters cut off the ears of the Negroes. This was one of his great fears when sent on errands to the mill. Besides this, he was also scolded because of getting late. Washington’s life was full of hardships. He never got time to play and enjoy life. He was occupied most of the time in cleaning the yards and carrying water to the men in the fields.
Question 8: The Negro slaves had sympathetic attitude towards their masters. Prove it with textual support.
Answer: Undoubtedly, the Negroes never nourished the feelings of enmity and hatred against their white masters. There are many instances of Negroes tenderly carrying for their former masters and mistresses who for some reason have become poor and dependent since the war. The former masters of slaves were provided with money by their slaves to safeguard them. The slaves assisted the descendants of their former owners in getting education. A young white man in the south became bankrupt because of drinking and his condition became pitiable. The Negro slaves supplied this young white man with the necessities of life despite their poverty. One sent him a little coffee or sugar, another a little meat. The attitude of the slaves was sympathetic and positive towards the white masters. Some of the slaves did not want freedom. They were emotionally attached to their masters. The black man who returned his debt with interest said that “he knew that he did not have to pay the debt, but that he had given his word to the master, and his word he had never broken.” It seemed that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise. It reflects the positive attitude of slaves.
Question 9: With the selection of a name, what larger quest was he attempting to fulfil, and how did having a name relate to this more universal quest?
Answer: Washington faced a problem pertaining to his name. People used to call him Booker. But he found that all the children at school had at least two names and some of them had three. He told the teacher calmly that his name was Booker Washington. Later he came to know that his mother had given him the name Booker Taliaferro. So he became Booker T. Washington. He wanted to be ‘identified’ and recognised. Those who had inherited name from their forefather were ahead of those who were unfortunate in this field. Washington says that “the Negro youth starts out with the presumption against him.” People felt surprised on the success of a Negro boy. “The influence of ancestry is important in helping forward any individual or race …. The fact that the individual has behind and surrounding him proud family history and connection serves as a stimulus to help him to overcome obstacles when striving for success.” So he pledged to leave a record of which his children would be proud and which might encourage them to excel in every walk of life.
Question 10: Why did Washington despise working in a coal-mine?
Answer: The poor financial condition of his family constrained him to work for a coal-mine. He was scared of this work. He hated this work because one who worked in a coal-mine was always unclean and it was next to impossible for one to get one’s skin clean after the day’s work. He was also afraid of the coal-mine because the distance between the opening of the coal mine and to the face of the coal was approximately a mile. It was in the blackest darkness. He lost his way in the mine many times. To add to the horror of being lost, sometimes he would lose his light. The work was not only hard, but it was dangerous. There was always a danger of being blown by a premature explosion of powder or of being crushed by falling slate. Accidents of this kind were very common in the coal-mine. This kept him in constant fear. So he did not want to work for the coal-mine. Another reason was that young boys who began life in a coal-mine became physically and mentally dwarfed. They lost ambition to do anything else and remained coal-miners for ever.
Question 11: What values did Washington learn while performing work for Mrs Ruffner? Comment.
Answer: Mrs Viola Ruffner was the life partner of General Lewis Ruffner. She was a Yankee woman from Vermont. Booker worked for her for more than a year. He was hired at a salary of $5 per month. Mrs Ruffner wanted everything clean and she wanted things should be done promptly and systematically. Washington learnt lessons in doing the assigned work with utmost sincerity. He understood the significance of dignity of labour. Mrs Ruffner taught him to maintain absolute cleanliness and work honestly. Washington said, “Even to this day I never see bits of paper scattered around a house or in the street that I do not want to pick them up at once. I never see a filthy yard that I do not want to clean it, a paling off a fence that I do not want to put it on an unpainted or unwhitewash it, or a button off one’s clothes, or a grease spot on them or on a floor, that I do not want to call attention to it.” She became friendly with him and gave him an opportunity to go to school in an hour in the day. She always encouraged him to make efforts to get an education.
Question 12: What hardships of travel did he attribute to race and poverty and why had he never before considered the effects of skin colour?
Answer: Washington decided to go to Hampton and started his journey with enthusiasm and vigour. But he had not confronted people of the world. He spent most of his time amidst the Negroes or the masters. He was unaware of the harsh reality of life. When he was going to Hampton, the coach stopped for the night at a hotel. All passengers were accommodated there. But the men at the desk refused to consider the matter of providing him with food or lodging. This was his first experience in finding out the meaning of his coloured skin. He did not have money to reach Hampton. He walked and begged rides in both wagons and cars. Eventually, he reached Richmond, Virginia. It was eighty two miles from Hampton. He was tired, exhausted and hungry. He spent that night under the sidewalk enduring extreme hunger. The next morning he pleaded the captain of a ship to permit him to unload the vessel. He allowed him. Washington earned enough money to get breakfast. He kept working there for a small amount per day. His race and poverty hampered his growth and forced him to face numerous hurdles.
Question 13: What qualities of character enabled him to pass the test to be admitted to the Institute even though he had no money?
Answer: Washington was absolutely determined to get education at Hampton. The head teacher asked him to sweep the recitation room. Booker was intelligent enough to understand that it was his test. He considered it an opportunity to enter the institute. He swept the room and cleaned everything. The head teacher was a Yankee woman and Washington had already worked for a Yankee woman i.e. Mrs Ruffner. He knew then- nature. So he did not leave ‘any dust particle in the room and informed the head teacher about the completion of his work. She entered the room and inspected the floor and closets. She took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork about the walls and over the tables. She could not find a bit of dirt anywhere. She remarked, “I guess you will do to enter this institution.” Washington impressed her by his hard work, patience, simplicity and sincerity. In this way, he passed the test to get admitted to the Institute.
Question 14: What guiding principles of life did he develop in his stay at Hampton Institute? Explain how they developed and why he offered them as advice for others?
Answer: Washington received a different kind of education at Hampton. The focus of teachers at Hampton Institute was not on bookish knowledge. Booker felt impressed at the selfless service of teachers. Washington wrote, “It was hard for me to understand how any individual could bring themselves to the point where they could be so happy in working for others. The cardinal principle of fife that Washington developed there was to derive happiness from noble deeds. He learnt that “those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. Washington advised the same thing to others as he considered it a perennial source of aesthetic pleasure. He did not intend to deprive any mortal of this state of ecstasy. He developed this time tested principle of life at Hampton and believed that it would lead him to success. He also learnt ‘to love to labour’. He said, “The happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy. His philosophy and principles learnt at Hampton paved the way for posterity.”
Question 15: How was his experience with the debating society typical of his personality?
Answer: Washington’s ability to keep himself busy in productive and innovative accomplishments was acknowledged by his peers. The debating societies at Hampton were a constant source of delight to him. He was keenly interested in polishing his communication and inter-personal skills. He never missed the meeting to be held on Saturday evening. He not only attended the weekly debating society, but was instrumental in organising an additional society. He noticed that between the time when supper was over and the time to begin evening study there were twenty minutes. The young scholars used to spend this time in idle gossips. So, they formed a society for the purpose of utilising the time in debate or in practice in public speaking. Washington had a fluent desire to master the art of oratory. He attained his long-cherished goal with persistent hard Work and practice. His experience with the debating society was in consonance with his personality. Developing thoughts, innovation, eloquence and the habit of not wasting time were the hallmarks of the debating society and characteristics of Booker.
Question 16: Compare and contrast the educational principles of Hampton and Washington.
Answer: The educational principles of Hampton were altogether different from that of Washington. Booker observed that there was no industrial training at Washington DC. The students here had more money. They were well dressed. At Hampton, the focus of teachers was not on books. Students made efforts through the industries to help themselves. This practice was of immense value, the character-building. The students of Washington DC were not self-dependent. They gave importance to outward appearances. They knew more about Latin and Greek, but they did not know much about life and its conditions. Their life skills were not being honed at Washington DC. But the student of Hampton could easily earn his bread and butter as he was brought up in such an environment. The practical education and industrial training was a real one and it gave a solid foundation to those who initiated from the bottom like the Negroes. Booker appreciated the principles of Hampton Institute and following the same established and ran Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
Question 17: Why did Washington feel that the Reconstruction Policy was “artificial and forced”?
Answer: Washington was a youth during the period of Reconstruction. He rightly felt that the Reconstruction policy had a false foundation and was artificial and forced. He conceived and felt convinced that the ignorance of the Negroes “was being used as a tool with which to help white men into office. There was an element in the North which wanted to punish the Southern white men by forcing the Negro into positions over the heads of the Southern White. It was evident that the consequences of such flawed and controversial policy would be bitter to the Negro community. Besides, the general political agitation deviated the attention of Negroes from securing property and becoming skilled people at one of the industries. Washington’s belief was that the government should device such a plan that would make “the possession of a certain amount of education or property, or both, a test for the exercise of the franchise, and a way provided by which this test should be made to apply honestly and squarely to both the white and black races. He wanted equality only.
Question 18: What objections did he have to many of his race who became teachers and preachers?
Answer: Washington observed that most of the Negroes who received some little education became teachers and preachers. They opted for teaching or preaching considering it an easy way to make a living. There were many teachers who could write their names only. They did possess thorough knowledge of anything. Booker gave the example of one such teacher who was in search of a school to teach. He was asked about the teaching strategies concerning the shape of the earth. He replied that “he was prepared to teach that the earth was either flat or round, according to the preference of a majority of his patrons.” The practice of declaring preachers was baseless. Many immoral men were “called to preach.” They were not virtuous and they were not receptive even. Washington objected to appoint such teachers and preachers. A teacher who knew nothing would not be able to shape the future of children. The condition of blacks would deteriorate and become worst. So, he was against this malpractice. Teaching was a noble profession for him. It required only selfless people.
Question 19: How did he approach his task of being “house father” to seventy five Indian young men at Hampton Institute? Was he successful?
Answer: General Armstrong delegated him the responsibility to be the “house father” to the Indian young men. He was to live in the building with them and have the charge of their discipline, clothing, rooms etc. He accepted this tempting offer and started living in a building with seventy-five Indian youths. He knew something about the attitude of Indians. The average Indian felt himself above the white men. He was confirmed that an Indian would never surrender to slavery. But he was determined to succeed. He took the Indians into confidence and earned their love and respect. He found that they were like other human beings. They responded to kind treatment and resented ill-treatment. They wanted to do something that would please me. They disliked to have their long hair cut, give up their blankets and cease smoking. Washington approached the task with determination and won laurels to the Institute. He lived with them and taught them that “no American ever thinks that any other race is wholly civilized until he wears the white man’s clothes, eat the white man’s food, speaks the white man’s language, and profess the white man’s religion.”
Question 20: What was Washington’s notion of a true gentleman? What famous example did he use?
Answer: Washington’s belief was that “a true gentleman is to observe him when he is in contact with individuals of a race that is less fortunate than his own”. His idea was to analyse the conduct and behaviour of a man when he meets a person who belongs to the race which is considered inferior. A person who misbehaves towards a man and who belongs to the lower strata of society cannot be called a gentleman. His politeness and humility must change according to the person’s financial and social status. If it happens, he is called a ‘hypocrite’ and ‘pretender’.
Washington gave the example of George Washington. He met a coloured man on the road once. The coloured man politely lifted his hat and wished him. George Washington reciprocated him the same. He also lifted his hat in return. Some of his white friends saw him doing so and criticised George for his action. He replied to their criticism and said, “Do you suppose that I am going to permit a poor, ignorant, coloured man to be more polite than I am?
Question 21: What did he have to say about “the curious workings of caste in America”? Give some examples of social stratification in America’s society from his time?
Answer: Washington gave many examples of the curious working of caste. The biased attitude of the white was based on certain peculiar principles. They were ready to accept the dark skinned man who was a citizen of Morocco but not the Afro- American. Booker Washington during his tour to Washington, on a steam boat waited to enter the dining room. The man in charge politely informed him that the Indian could be served but he could not be served there. Booker got confused and perplexed as the complexion of the Indian and Booker was the same. He got exactly the same reply when he went to a hotel in Washington. The clerk stated that he would not allow him to stay but would be glad to receive the Indian. Booker could not understand this social stratification and believed that the people of his race would have to contribute significantly to the development of the nation and its economy. They would have to become indispensable for the White Americans to get equal social rights. He encouraged his people to do so and succeeded.
Question 22: How did the term “Black Belt of the South have a double meaning”?
Answer: Washington reached Tuskegee to run an educational institute so that the lot of Negroes may be changed. He found that Tuskegee was a town of about two thousand inhabitants and nearly one half of them were coloured. So it was known as the Black Belt of the South. In the country in which Tuskegee was situated the coloured people outnumbered the White by about three to one.
According to Booker, the term “Black Belt of the South” was first used to designate a part of the country which was distinguished by the colour of the soil. That part of the country possessing thick, dark and naturally rich soil was the part of the South where the slaves were most profitable and consequently they were taken there in the largest numbers. Later and especially since the war, the term was used absolutely in political sense i.e. to designate the counties where the black people were in majority and outnumbered the whites. This is the reason that the term is ambiguous and can be interpreted in two different ways.
Question 23: How did Washington characterise racial relations in Tuskegee? What evidence did he offer?
Answer: Washington was glad to find the relations between the two races pleasant. Tuskegee was found to be an ideal location for opening a school. It was amidst Negroes and secluded. It was five miles from the main line of railroad. The town had been a centre for education of the white people. This was an advantage to find the white people possessing a degree of culture and education. The coloured people of the place were ignorant and maintained their physical strength by not becoming the victim of vices. The relations of the white and the black were praiseworthy at Tuskegee. Washington gave the example of the only hardware store in the town. It was owned and operated jointly by a coloured man and a white man. This co-partnership continued until the death of the white partner. So it can be said that the racial discrimination did not victimise the Negroes to the extent as in the North. Washington got the support of the white to establish the school at Tuskegee.
Question 24: What was the economic status of the citizens in and around Tuskegee?
Answer: The economic status of the citizens in and around Tuskegee was not sound. Washington travelled through Albama to examine the actual life of the residents. He noticed that people did not have suffice space at their residence. The whole family slept on the floor. There was no place in cabin where they could take a bath or rinse their faces. The common diet of the people was fat pork and com bread. They used to plant only cotton. Washington said, “In these cabin homes I often found sewing-machines which had been bought, or were being bought, on instalments, frequently at a cost of as much as sixty dollars, or showy clocks for which the occupants of the cabins had paid twelve or fourteen dollars.” But the most surprising thing was that these people were not making the optimum use of the available resources. The sewing machines were not used and the clocks were so worthless that they did not keep correct time. Every child was put to work. They used to celebrate the week end. On Saturday, the whole family would spend at least half a day in the town.
Question 25: What sort of factor in Washington’s proposed curriculum put him most at odds with the African-American community? Why?
Answer: Washington’s theory of education was to train students in life skills. He wanted to teach them the importance of taking a bath, caring for their teeth and clothing. He emphasised on personal hygiene and cleanliness. He wished to teach them how to study actual things instead of mere books alone. Washington planned to clear up some land to plant a crop. He announced this plan to the young men and noticed that they were not happy. They failed to understand the relation of clearing land and education. Some of them had been school teachers and they interrogated Booker’s wisdom. They Questioned whether or not clearing land would be in keeping with their dignity. Booker had the strength of character. He knew the art of encouraging people to do something. In order to inspire them and relieve them from any embarrassment, each afternoon after school he took his axe and went to woods. They felt guilty and accompanied Booker to clear land. They cleared about twenty acres and planted a crop. In this way Washington overcame his obstacles and hindrances.
Question 26: Why did some in the local community oppose teaching African-American trades and basic skills and knowledge education?
Answer: Booker T. Washington initiated a school at Tuskegee on 4 July, 1881. Some white people in the vicinity did not seem pleased with the project. They Questioned its value to the coloured people and reflected their fear that it might increase hiatus between the two races. Their ideas were based on the principles of selfishness and vested interests. They knew that no educated Negro would work for them. It would be difficult for them to retain them for domestic service. They also expected that the Negroes would leave their farms. The white people who interrogated Booker’s wisdom of starting the new school visualised an educated Negro. “With a high hat, imitation gold eye-glasses, a showy walking stick, kid gloves, fancy boots and what not—in a wood, a man who was determined to live by his wits.” They could not digest the fact that the coloured people would become civilised, educated and skilled. It was sure that education would bring positive changes in the perspective, perception and living standard of the Negroes.
Question 27: What was Washington’s opinion of the Christmas holiday costumes of his African- American neighbours?
Answer: Washington was industrious and hard working. He could not sit idle. He went to a large plantation to visit the people during the Christmas vacation. He was greatly surprised to see these poor and ignorant people making collective endeavours to celebrate the festive season. He noticed that there were five children in a family and they possessed a single bunch of fire crackers. In another cabin he found a family that had nearly a half-dozen members. They had only ten cents’ worth of ginger-cakes. The free use of guns, pistols and gunpowder was the pinnacle of absurdity. Washington met an old man who was one of the numerous local preachers. He tried to convince Booker that it was a sin for man to work. Drinking and rough dance marked the Christmas celebrations. Washington intended to teach his students the true meaning of Christmas. The fortunate people must help the destitute and everyone should help one another to derive aesthetic pleasure. He said that people should celebrate this festival by spending time in administering to the comfort and happiness of others.
Question 28: What do you understand by “making bricks without straw”?
Answer: Making bricks without straw implies accomplishing a task without possessing the ability to do it and the fundamental necessities required for its accomplishment. Washington wanted to make bricks without money and experience. He thought that brickmaking was a simple task. He moulded twenty-five thousand bricks and put them into a kiln to be burnt. They found that the kiln was not properly constructed so their attempt of baking the bricks became futile. They attempted three times to burn the bricks but failed every time. They did not have money. Washington went to a pawn shop and mortgaged his watch to secure some money. He was determined to succeed. The students also became demoralised and dejected. But Washington began the fourth attempt to make bricks. This time they got success. It was not easy for them to make bricks without experience. But determination, dedication and selflessness made this miracle possible. Hurdles and obstacles strengthens an individual’s character and beliefs. Booker was familiar with such sayings full of wisdom.
Question 29: “We can’t even get water to drink at this school.” Elaborate.
Answer: Washington decided to open a boarding department because students started coming from quite a distance. Booker lacked funds and was short of money. There was no provision for a kitchen and dining room. Booker invited students to volunteer for work. He called them to dig out the basement. It was used as a dining room. They did not have furniture even. Cooking was done out-of-doors in pots and skillets placed over a fire. Some of the carpenters’ benches which were used in the construction of the building were utilised for tables. Everybody felt inconvenient. Nothing was liked by students. They could not supply delicious food to students. “Either the meat was not done or had been burnt, or the salt had been left out of the bread, or the tea had been forgotten.” Students grumbled and had many complaints. A girl who did not get breakfast came out to the well to draw water to drink. When she reached the well, she found that the rope was broken and she could not get water. She turned from the well and said, “We can’t even get water to drink at this school.” This remark of the girl discouraged Booker.
Question 30: According to Washington, what were the economic, political and moral repercussions for the white community when they abused African-Americans?
Answer: Armstrong’s character and conduct left an indelible impression on Booker’s perception. He learnt from him that “great men cultivate love and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.” He had experienced it when he worked as “house father” and stayed with Indians. They loved him as he loved them. He felt convinced that “assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.” The community was becoming stronger day by day and the white people would feel lack of confidence very soon.
They made permanent injury to their morality. Washington rightly said, “The wrong to the Negro is temporary, but the morals of the white man, the injury is permanent.” The white men were practising dishonesty and it will affect their race also. “The white man who begins by cheating a Negro usually ends by cheating a white man. Washington hoped that the white did not have firm faith in dignity of labour. They would not be able to make significant contribution to the economy and hence would lose importance in the economic sector and political arena. Lethargic people are never respected anywhere.
Question 31: The general belief was that “coloured people would not obey and respect each other when one member of the race is placed in a position of authority over others’. Was it true in case of Booker T. Washington?
Answer: No, it wasn’t true in case of Booker T. Washington. He was respected and honoured by the members of his community. The students praised him and loved him. They knew that Washington was struggling hard to uplift them. His sincere and selfless dedication was duly acknowledged. He himself said that “during the nineteen years of my experience at Tuskegee I never, either by word or act, have been treated with disrespect by any student of office connected with the institution.” He was very happy to see his race improving. The students never allowed him to carry a satchel or any kind of burden. They used to do that for him politely. During rainy season when he left his house for office, one of the boys would come with an umbrella to hold it over him. His efforts bore fruits and he got recognition in not only the Negroes but also among the white people. He was the man of principles and character. People never insulted him or felt jealous of his achievement because he was a down to earth man.
Question 32: What was his idea about avoiding strikes at the workplace?
Answer: Washington’s aim was not to direct people. He always believed in democratic management. He was*, frank and straightforward. He never followed the principles of diplomacy. The most important thing was to believe in the employee and give him responsibility so that he may feel that he is also an essential part of the organisation. He thought that strikes could be avoided if the employers would cultivate the habit of getting nearer to their employees. The important issues pertaining to the growth of the organisation must be discussed with them. Their advice should be sought so that the interests of both become the same. If this principle of participative management is followed every individual will respond with confidence and enthusiasm. The employer would have to prove that he has knack to understand their feelings and sentiments. “Let them once understand that you are unselfishly interested in them, and you can lead them to any extent.” The behaviour of the employed would help him in getting the employees’ love and confidence.
Question 33: How would you characterise Washington’s philosophy of fundraising’?
Answer: Washington’s philosophy of fundraising was very interesting. He never liked those people who were habitual of criticising the rich only because of their wealth. He erected the buildings at Tuskegee by collecting money from philanthropist. He was of the opinion that none should be asked directly to donate money. They should be informed about the institution’s attributes. He said, “I have usually proceeded on the principle that persons who possess sense enough to earn, money have sense enough to know how to give it away, and that the mere making known of the facts regarding Tuskegee, and especially the facts regarding the work of the graduates, has been more effective than outright begging.” He believed that the presentation of facts is the thing that most rich people take into account before donating money. The rich people should be told about the selfless service being rendered by the institute to the public at large. He also went from door to door to seek public help. Washington’s outlook brought laurels to Tuskegee Institute and it became famous with the passage of time.
Question 34: “Nothing ever comes to me that is worth having except as the result of hard work.” Who says this and why?
Answer: Washington speaks these words. He reached the pinnacle of glory without having a single penny in his pocket. Tuskegee Institute received help from many white people and rich people of the south and the north. So some people believed that it was Tuskegee’s good luck that brought gifts and money. But Booker did not think this. He conceived that it was hard work. He gave an instance also. When Mr Hamington gave him the first two dollars, Washington did not blame him for not giving him more. He made up his mind to convince him by producing tangible results. He did this miracle and kept making efforts to convince and satisfy him. Eventually, Mr Hamington increased the amount of donation. It is a universally accepted aphorism that luck pays but never pays more than hard work. Hard work has no substitute. What Washington did was visible and evident. He impressed not only students but also the white people of the North. So, it has to be acknowledged that he won the battle of life at Tuskegee through persistent hard work.
Question 35: Why was starting a night school so dear to Washington’s heart?
Answer: Washington was a slave. After emancipation, he worked in a coal-mine and attended night schools to achieve excellence. He knew that poverty was the root cause of all evils. He started the boarding department at Tuskegee and many talented students applied for seeking admission. But they were poor and did not have enough to pay even the small charges at the school. Washington recollected his past and thought that he received help from many people at Hampton. He did not want to deprive’ them of education. His sole purpose of running the institute was to educate each individual. It was difficult for him to refuse admission to these applicants. So he decided to start a night school based on the principles of the school he had helped to establish at Hampton. Only poor students were admitted to the night school. They were to work for ten hours during the day at some trade or industry and study academic branches for two hours during the evening. Washington trained these students in an incredible manner.
Question 36: How did being indispensable to a community differ from being a slave?
Answer: Washington’s firm faith in doing a common thing in an uncommon manner proved too he a boon for the whole Negro community. He wanted to make every individual self-sufficient, self-reliant and creative. His principal objective of providing students with industrial training was to make them indispensable to the community. Skilled and productive people would never lose their self-respect. Whereas slaves would never get respect in any community. His desire was that the Negro should learn to “produce what other people wanted and must have, in the same proportion would he be respected.” He said that “the whole future of the Negro rested largely upon the Question as to whether or not he should make himself, through his skill, intelligence, and character, of such undeniable value to the community in which he lived that the community could not dispense with his presence”. A slave only follows instructions ignorantly. His living standard always remains miserable. He never shows interest in developing his skills. So, he is not respected. A skilled man produces what the society needs and gets respect.
Question 37: Why was his address at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition, the most famous speech of his life?
Answer: Washington’s address at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition became popular because of the intellectually drafted sentences and innovative thoughts. He intended to create friendly relation between the two races to encourage the material and intellectual growth of all citizens irrespective of the race. He said and emphasised the fact that “While the Negro should not be deprived by unfair means of the franchise, political agitation alone would not save him and that back of the ballot he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence and character, and that no race without these elements could permanently succeed.” He opined that social equality and equal political rights would lead the country to success. He influenced and impressed the people sitting there. He electrified the audience with his invaluable ideas and proved that he was really concerned with the national growth.
Question 38: Briefly analyse Washington’s address of September 18, 1895 at the Atlanta Exposition.
Answer: Booker was a renowned orator. He knew the art of influencing mammoth gathering. His address at Atlanta shook the very foundation of the politics and business tycoons. His words encouraged the people of his community and he did not severely criticise any race. The use of the parable of the parched sailors searching for water are told, “Cast down your bucket where you are” was significant and pregnant with meaning. He candidly confessed that “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” He asked the white “to cast your bucket’ among the eight millions of Negroes who are familiar with you.” Cast down your bucket among those people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled you fields, cleared your forests, and built your railroads and cities…” He pleaded them to encourage and support the Negroes to get education of head, hand and heart. He promised them that the Negroes would prove to be the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people. His message to his people was that “No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracised….” The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an Opera-house. Mr. Clarke Howell, the editor of the Atlanta Constitution wrote about his*address that, “The address was a reservation. The whole speech is a platform upon which blacks and whites can stand with full justice to each other.”
Question 39: Why did Washington advise public speakers to “forget all about rules”?
Answer: There is no doubt that Washington had the ability to stir even a cynic. His eloquence was beyond imagination. The art of public speaking popularised him incredibly. He discussed the qualities a public speaker should have. Some speakers speak without any purpose. People fail to understand the purport of their expressions. The illogicality and lack of coherence disappoint such speakers. He opined that this is an injustice when the speaker speaks merely for the sake of speaking. The speaker must have a message to deliver. He says, “I don’t believe that many of the artificial rules of elocution can, under such circumstances, help him very much. Although there are certain things, such as pauses, breathing, and pitch of voice, that are important, none of these can take the place of soul in the address.” He does not remember rules at the time of discussing crucial matters concerning the growth of the nation and the progress of an individual. The grammatical rules are significant but the message should not be ambiguous. He forgets to follow the proper use of the English words. His purpose is to make the address interesting so that no listener leaves the room. He also observes that an average listener wants facts rather than sermonizing. People do not have much time to pay attention to the long moral tales.
Question 40: “Do not do that which others can do as well”. Substantiate.
Answer: Booker T. Washington was a national figure. He had several responsibilities viz. addressing people at various places, going out of Tuskegee for collecting donation, meetings with officials. People were surprised to see his busy schedule. They asked him how he was managing to superintend the work at Tuskegee and at the same time be so much away from the school. He said that he did not believe in the old dictum, “Do not get others to do that which you can do yourself”. His motto was, “Do not do that which others can do as well.” The work and routine of Tuskegee was so planned that Booker’s presence or absence did not matter. The executive force was so organised and subdivided that the machinery of the school went on like clockwork. All employees of the school were sincere and dedicated. They understood the paramount significance of their duty. They had the executive council also. The meeting of the council was held twice a week. Apart from this they had financial committee. The quintessence is that Booker delegated power and authority to his colleagues. He performed those activities which others could not do.
Question 41: What impressed Washington in England?
Answer: Washington was forced to go to England to enjoy vacation. He felt delighted to see that people had respect for laws and order. They did everything with astonishing ease and thoroughness. They respected Booker and showed no indignation. Washington said that “The home life of the English seems to me to be about as perfect as anything can be.” Everything moved like clockwork. He was impressed with the deference that the servants showed to their “masters” and “mistresses”. ‘The English servant expects, as a rule, to be nothing but a servant, and so he perfects himself in the art of a degree that no class of servants in America has yet reached. Specialisation and perfection were the hallmarks of these people. The average Englishman was very grave by nature and wished to everything excellently. They were “so tremendously in earnest about everything, that when I told a story that would have made an American audience roar with laughter, the Englishman simply looked me straight in the face without even cracking a smile”. They were very sophisticated, mannered, humble, law-abiding, serious in nature and almost perfect.
Question 42: Describe General Armstrong’s visit to Tuskegee in the last years of his life.
Answer: General Armstrong was industrious and helpful. He expressed a wish to visit Tuskegee before his death. He was paralysis stricken at that time. It was not possible for him to move independently. His limbs were not functional and he became helpless. He was brought to Tuskegee. The owners of the Tuskegee railroad ran a special train. He reached the school campus in the evening. Someone suggested to give the General a “pine-knot torchlight reception.” The plan was accepted and executed thoughtfully. The moment his carriage entered the school campus he began passing between two lines of lighted and waving “fat pine” wood knots held by over a thousand students and teachers. General felt delighted to receive warm welcome. He stayed with Washington for two months. He couldn’t speak and walk. But he spent most of his time in devising ways and means to help the south. He reminded Washington of the duty to elevate not only the Negro of the South but also the poor white men’s condition. His last visit to Tuskegee inspired and motivated Washington to work for the community at large with enthusiasm and vigour.
Question 43: When President came to Tuskegee and how did Washington get him there?
Answer: President McKinley came to Tuskegee. He was to visit Atlanta in 1898. Washington heard this news that McKinely was coming to Tuskegee to take part in the Peace Jubilee Celebrations organised to commemorate the successful close of the Spanish- American War. Washington visited him and met President McKinely. He requested the President to visit the Institute also. His visit to Tuskegee Institute would encourage students and teachers. The entire race would feel obliged and inspired. President McKinley seemed interested. But he didn’t make a promise. President McKinley came to Tuskegee with his wife and all the cabinet officers. The citizens of Tuskegee decorated the town from the station to the school beautifully. They arranged to have the whole school pass in review before the President. Each student carried a stalk of sugarcane with some open bolls of cotton fastened to the end of it. Following the students, the work of all departments of the school passed the review, displayed on “floats” drawn by horses, mules and oxen. They exhibited not only the present way of the school but also the contrasts between the old methods of doing things and the new. In his address, he appreciated Washington and said that Booker was “an accomplished educator, a great orator and a true philanthropist.”
Question 44: What was Washington’s stand on lynching?
Answer: He criticised the ‘evil habit of lynching’. He tried his level best to make people aware of the disadvantages of it through the medium of the press. He dealt with the matters pertaining to the interests of both races. He wrote a letter to the State Constitutional Convention Body pleading for justice for the race. Washington wrote that “The great human law that in the end recognizes and rewards merit is everlasting and universal. The outside world does not know, neither can it appreciate the struggle that is constantly going on in the hearts of both the Southern White people and their former slaves to free themselves from racial prejudice; and both races are thus struggling. They should have the sympathy, the support and forbearance of the rest of the world.” Equal status to Negroes in society would be fruitful for the whole nation and the bitterness of races would also come to an end. Racial discrimination would not lead the nation to success and the citizens would also feel suffocated in the tense atmosphere. The atmosphere of the nation must be congenial and convivial so that productivity and innovative ideas may get momentum.