Animals Summary

Animals Introduction

About the Poet

  •  Walt Whitman was bom on May 31,1819 in West Hills, Huntington.
  • He was an American poet, essayist, and journalist.
  • He incorporated transcendentalism and realism.
  • Whitman worked as a j oumalist, a teacher and a government clerk.
  • He also volunteered for nurse during the American Civil War.
  • Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855.
  • He died in 1892 at the age of 72.

Central Idea of the Poem

The poet has very beautifully drawn out a contrast between human beings and animals. According to him, human beings are greedy, selfish and envious whereas animals are simple and loyal. He wants to live among the animals who are always satisfied and do not possess things. They do not have any kind of falsehood. They just enjoy their lives in their surroundings.

Animals Summary

In the poem, ‘Animals’, the poet has portrayed a beautiful description of animals. The poet desires to live among the animals, because they are quiet, calm and self-contained. They do not bother about their guilt or sin. They neither feel too happy nor get frustrated over anything.
The animals are always satisfied. They do not possess the mania of possessing things. They do not show respect for the others. But, such is not the case with human beings. They hanker after worldly pleasures and money. They do not get satisfaction. They show respect to the elders.
The poet has a deep desire to leam from the animals since they show their deep concern for him. They pay him respect in the form of a token and show their plain feelings. They do not have any kind of falsehood. The poet is much surprised at their quality.

Poem at a Glance

  • The poet has tried to find out the differences between animals and human beings.
  • The poet feels comfortable in the company of animals.
  • Because animals are quiet, calm and satisfied.
  • The poet looks at them for a long time.
  • The animals neither repent over their miserable conditions nor weep for their sins.
  • The animals are not mad after possession of things.
  • Although human beings have lost their tokens of love but it still persists in animals.
  • Human beings have become jealous, envious, greedy but animals are not so.

English Animals Important Questions and Answers

I. Short Answer Type Questions (20-30 words & 2 marks each)

Question 1.
What makes the poet sick?
Humans do all kinds of sins and discuss with one another about their duties to God. It makes the poet sick. It shows the hypocrisy of humans, but animals do not repent such things.

Question 2.
What is the poet’s yearning?
The poet’s yearning is to live with animals. Animals lead quite peaceful lives. They are
satisfied and never complain about it. Humans hanker after worldly possessions. Their desire and greed can never be satiated. That is why the poet wants to live with animals.

Question 3.
What does the poet say about animals in the poem?
The poet says that animals are placid, calm, peaceful and self-contained. They never compromise with anything.

II. Short Answer Type Questions (40-50 words & 3 marks each)

Question 1.
In what respect are animals better than human beings?
Animals are more sympathetic and considerate than human beings. They are quiet, calm and self-satisfied. They have no ill-will, grudge or envy against anyone. So, animals are better than human beings in numerous ways.

Question 2.
What qualities of animals have attracted the poet most?
The noble virtues of animals have attracted the poet most. Animals are independent. They are not jealous, envious. They do not show unnecessary respect for their ancestors or to their fellow beings. They do not possess anything like human beings. These qualities of animals have attracted the poet most.

Question 3.
What is the underlying idea in the poem ‘Animals’?
The idea depicted in the poem ‘Animals’ is the difference between human beings and animals. Initially, both animals and humans were similar in their innate goodness but over the years, humans have lost this natural goodness whereas it is still intact in animals. The peaceful, self-contained and happy nature of animals compels the poet to contemplate on man’s lost goodness.

Question 4.
Explain the satisfaction that animals have and humans don’t.
Animals do not wish to possess worldly things. Whereas, humans’ desire grows constantly and they are never satisfied with what they have. The lack of this greed in animals keeps them satisfied and the presence of it in humans makes them dissatisfied.

III. Long Answer Type Questions (100-120 words & 5 marks each)

Question 1.
Do you think that the poem ‘Animals’ presents a contrast between humans and animals?
Human beings are jealous, envious, selfish and self-centred lot while animals are quiet, calm,
self-contained and happy lot. Animals do not lie awake at night, cry over their sins and discuss their duty towards God as human beings do. They have no intention of possessing things. They never kneel down before others. There are noble virtues inherent in them. But, humans lack all these things. They just change their perception according to circumstances. Animals remain whatever they are. They do not do things like that.

Question 2.
‘It is not complaining but accepting a situation, is the key to happiness in life.’ Elaborate this in context of the poem ‘Animals’.
In the poem ‘Animals’, the poet has brought out the differences between animals and humans on the basis of their characteristics. In poet’s opinion, animals are ranked higher than humans, as they do not complain about anything and thus they are considered much happier than humans. Animals always live in their natural surroundings but humans tend to mould their surroundings as per their need and greed. Even after altering their habitat, humans remain sad and complaining.

Question 3.
Why do you think the poet has called the desire to own things, a mania? Is the poet right in doing so? Write your own views.
The poet uses words such as ‘demented’ and ‘mania’ for never ending desire of human beings to own things. These words show that the poet is comparing this desire to madness. The poet stands right in doing so as this desire makes us so greedy. It traps us in a vicious circle of yearning more and more. Animals that are free from any possession are also free from sins, worries and complaints. In order to gain more wealth, all the important values such as morality and kindness are left behind.

Question 4.
What, according to you, should be the virtues that humans should possess? Discuss with reference to the poem, ‘Animals’.
Human beings should be gentle not only to their own kind but also to everyone and everything. Virtues such as kindness bring other values like innocence and honesty. That makes the world a better place to live in. The lack of such values results in a corrupt society where people commit sins and repent in dark. They get dissatisfied and unhappy in their life. Human beings probably had these virtues in them but along with the advancement of civilisation, they have left them behind and adopted greed and cunningness.

Question 5.
Not one kneels another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth,
So they show their relation to me and I accept them
What does the poet want to convey through this?
In this poem, it is the ardent desire of the poet to live among animals. According to him, the animals are quiet, calm and satisfied. One of the most important qualities of animals is that they neither feel happy nor sad over anything. Like human beings, they neither kneel down before others to show respect either to their elders or their ancestors. Animals want to lead independent life. They are quite indifferent to human beings. Animals are not greedy like human beings. The poet is quite happy with the behaviour and habits of animals. They just want to lead their own lives without bothering others. There is no greed, envy, hatred, ill-will, grudge, etc., prevalent among animals. So, the poet wants to live in the company of animals.

English Animals Textbook Questions and Answers

Thinking about the Poem

1. Notice the use of the word ‘turn’ in the first line, “I think I could turn and live with animals…”. What is the poet turning from?
The poet is turning away from living with other humans because he finds them complicated and false. He would rather live with animals that are self-contained and non-complaining. Human beings are not content and they always complain about something or the other.

2. Mention three things that humans do and animals don’t.
The poet has drawn three comparisons between humans and animals.
(a) Humans sweat and work to make a living, but animals don’t do that.
(b) Humans lie awake at night and cry for the wrongs they have done, but animals do not repent such things. They sleep peacefully.
(c) Humans make each other sick by discussing with them their duties to God, while animals live and survive without any prayer.

3. Do humans kneel to other humans who lived thousands of years ago? Discuss this in groups.
Yes, humans kneel to other humans who lived thousands of years ago. They worship their ancestors and pray by kneeling in front of their portraits. They hold religious sermons and ceremonies in their memory.

4. What are the ‘tokens’ that the poet says he may have dropped long ago, and which the animals have kept for him? Discuss this in class.
{Hint: Whitman belongs to the Romantic tradition that includes Rousseau and Wordsworth, which holds that civilisation has made humans false to their own true nature. What could be the basic aspects of our nature as living beings that humans choose to ignore or deny?
The tokens that the poet says he might have dropped long ago are true nature of man, his affection, kindness, friendship, etc. As humans came closer to civilisation, they gradually deviated away from their true nature. As they came close to civilisation, they chose to leave behind the virtues of kindness, sincerity, unselfishness, joy, satisfaction, respectability and sharing. They adopted the path of greed, selfishness, desire to capture everything, and other such inhuman characteristics. Animals have carried forward the real instincts and characteristics, which the poet looks at and tries to remember where he had negligently lost his true nature.

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