NCERT Solutions Class 11 English The Tale of Melon City Vikram Seth

NCERT Solutions for Class 11 for English Chapter The Tale of Melon City Vikram Seth

Reading with insight 

Q1: Narrate 'The Tale of Melon City' in your own words.  


The Tale of Melon city is a narrative poem by Vikram Seth. The poem is an account of an incident involving a just and peace loving king and citizens that took place in a city long ago. The poet narrates that the king wished to construct an arch spanning the main thoroughfare to improve the onlookers morally and mentally. After the completion of the arch, the king went to inspect the newly constructed arch. The arch was very low. His crown struck against the arch and fell off. Feeling dishonoured, the king decided to hang the chief of builders. All arrangements were made for the hanging. The Chief of builders defended himself by shifting the responsibility to the labourers. Convinced by the argument, the king then ordered to hang all the labourers. The labourers shifted the responsibility to the size of the bricks. The king accordingly ordered the hanging of the masons. The masons in turn defended themselves and put all blame on the architect. The king ordered to hang the architect. The architect reminded the king that he had made some amendments to the plan when it was shown to him. The architect indirectly put the blame on the king. The king was confused to hear the architect's argument.  

The king sought the advice of the wisest man in his kingdom. He was so old that he could neither walk nor see. He gave the verdict that the arch was the real culprit. It was the arch that hit the crown violently and it fell off. So, the arch must be hanged. Accordingly, the arch was led to the scaffold. In the meantime, a councillor pointed out that it would be very shameful act to hang the arch that touched the king's crown. 

The crowd which gathered there to witness the hanging of the culprit was getting restless. Sensing their mood, the king said that someone must be hanged since the nation wanted a hanging. The noose was set up. It was somewhat high. Each man was measured turn by turn. But there was only one man who was tall enough to fit in the noose, and it was the King. Interestingly, the king was hanged. 

In the concluding part of the poem the ministers heaved a sigh of relief that they were able to find someone, otherwise, the unruly crowd might have risen in revolt. 

After the death of the King, it was required to choose another king. As per the convention, the ministers sent out the herald to proclaim that the next to pass the City Gate would choose a king. An idiot happened to pass the City Gate. The guards asked him who was to be the King. The idiot answered that a melon should be chosen to be the next king. Actually that was his pet answer to all questions as he liked melons. The ministers crowned a melon and placed their Melon King reverently at the throne. 


Q2 : What impression would you form of a state where the King was 'just and placid?  


Students should prepare the answer on their own. A model answer is given here for their reference. 

The citizens would enjoy the peace , liberty and justice if they were in a state where the king was Just and placid. In such a state the king would be titular and symbolic. The citizens could freedom of all kinds. The real governance of the country was in the hands of the citizens. In the poem 'The Tale of a Melon City' the king had to be hanged as the citizens ultimately wanted someone to be hanged. The king could not defend himself. Even though the wisest man gave the verdict that the arch was the real culprit but the citizens wanted someone to be hanged. Ultimately, the king was hanged. This shows that in such a state where the king was just and placid the citizens seemed to be enjoying more power than the king or ministers. 


Q3 : How, according to you, can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?  


Students should prepare the answer on their own. A model answer is given here for their reference. 

Peace and liberty cannot be enjoyed by the people if they live in a country ruled by a dictatorial king. Whereas, if there exists the principle of non-interference by the king in the activities of the citizens, it could enjoy peace and liberty. However, the king or the government must maintain law and order in the absence of which anarchy may reign in the state.  There should be certain control over the people by the king or the government, otherwise injustice would be committed and arbitrariness would take over. They would end up executing the king and replacing it with a melon as in the poem. Such kind of liberty is dangerous because then nobody is safe and anything can happen to anyone and can be justified in the name of liberty and freedom. There should be a happy balance between state interference and citizens’ rights. Only then one can expect peace and liberty to be maintained in a state. 


Q4 : Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony. 


The following are some instances of humour and irony: 

The decision of the king to hang the chief of the builders for constructing a low arch evokes laughter among the readers.  The way the king got convinced that actually the labourers who constructed the arch were responsible is also humorous.  The king wanted to hang the labourers but the labourers were able to defend themselves. This situation is humorous as it evokes laughter among the readers and ironic as the readers find that the labourers are able to shift the responsibility to the architect. Ironically the architect is able to shift the responsibility to the king himself. The selection of the wisest man who would give the verdict as to who was the real culprit evokes laughter and is, therefore, humorous. The old man ultimately blamed the arch and declared that the arch must be hanged. Ironically, one of the ministers pointed out that the gathering wanted a man to be hanged. As the noose fitted the king's neck, he was hanged. The choice of a successor is also humorous as an idiot is consulted in selecting the successor. Finally, the idiot chose a melon who became the symbolic head of the state.  



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