A Work of Artifice Question Answers

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Section B: Context Questions

1. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning

(i) Which tree is the poet talking about? How tall would it have grown and in which circumstances?

Ans: The poet is talking about the Bonsai tree. if it had been allowed to grow in the wild, could have reached a height of eighty feet on the side of a mountain before being split by lightning.

(ii)What does the bonsai tree symbolise? Explain.

Ans: Bonsai tree uses as a symbol of the human desire to control and shape nature. Bonsai trees are intentionally grown and pruned to be small and shaped in a particular way. They are living works of art that represent the human ability to manipulate and shape the natural world for our own purposes.

(iii) Where would it have grown tall? How would have been its height its enemy?


(iv)Why do you think the poet used the words "attractive pot" in the extract?

Ans:  In the poem "Work of Artifice" by Marge Piercy, the phrase "attractive pot" is used to describe the container in which the bonsai tree is planted. The poet likely used the words "attractive pot" to highlight the aesthetic appeal of the container, which is an important aspect of the bonsai tree's presentation. At the same time, the phrase also underscores the artificiality of the bonsai tree's environment and the ways in which human intervention has shaped and controlled its growth.

(v) What does "till split by lightning' symbolise? How is the tree protected from lightning?

Ans: "till split by lightning" refers to the fate of the bonsai tree if it were to grow in its natural environment, there is potential for destruction and loss in the natural world This line is a metaphor for the natural course of life, where even the strongest and tallest trees can be destroyed by the forces of nature. speaker constructed trees with limited growth with the idea that is fortunate to have a pot in which to grow, suggesting that the tree confinement is a form of protection, it protects from all the disasters that happen by nature.

II. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow

...carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches 
the gardener croons.

(i)How tall is the tree? Why did it not grow any further?

Ans: The bonsai tree is described as being "nine inches high" in the lines "carefully pruned it. / It is nine inches high." The tree did not grow any further because it has been deliberately confined in a pot and pruned to prevent it from reaching its full potential.

(ii)Who prunes the tree? Why does he do so?

Ans: Bonsai gardener or caretaker prunes the tree. Bonsai trees require frequent pruning and training in order to maintain their small size and to achieve a particular shape or style. The reason why the gardener prunes the tree is to create a specific aesthetic effect. By carefully shaping and pruning the tree, the gardener can create a work of art that is both beautiful and evocative. 

(iii)What does 'croons' mean? Briefly describe the symbolism used here.

Ans: "Croons" is a verb that means to sing or hum in a soft, soothing voice. In the context of the poem "the gardener croons" suggest that the gardener is singing or humming while working on the tree, perhaps indicating a sense of enjoyment or satisfaction with the process.

The act of crooning can be seen as a representation of the way in which humans seek to control and shape nature. The soft, gentle voice of the gardener represents the gentle touch of human intervention, carefully guiding and shaping the bonsai tree to fit a particular aesthetic ideal.

(iv)What role do the short lines of the poem play?

Ans: The short line lends a "song-song" tone to the poem. The line seems broken just like the "whittling" of a bonsai branch. This shortness of the line stressed that the poet wants to deliver a message urgently. The structure is also significant by using short and simple lines. The poem emphasises the confinement of both the bonsai tree and the woman

(v)Identify the gardening vocabulary used in this extract. How do these aid in the artifice of the bonsai?

Ans: The gardening vocabulary used in this extract includes "pruned", "whittles", and "branches". 
  1. In the context of the bonsai tree, pruning is an essential aspect of maintaining its miniature size and sculpting it into a desired shape. 
  2. In the context of the bonsai tree, whittling back the branches refers to the careful and precise cutting of the tree's branches to achieve a desired aesthetic effect.
  3. In the context of the bonsai tree, branches are a key element of its overall shape and aesthetic and must be carefully shaped and pruned to maintain the miniature size and desired form.
Together, these gardening terms help to create a sense of precision, care, and attention to detail in the process of creating and maintaining a bonsai tree. 

III. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow

It is your nature 
to be small and cory,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in

(i) What is the nature of the tree according to the gardener?

Ans: According to the gardeners in the poem, the nature of the tree is to be "small and cozy, domestic and weak." They believe that the tree is naturally meant to be confined and limited, rather than tall and robust. The gardeners intentionally manipulate the tree's growth and shape through pruning, so that it stays small and can be easily cared for.

(ii)is the tree lucky to grow in a pot? Explain the irony in this line.

Ans: The speaker contrasts the tree's limited growth with the idea that it is fortunate to have a pot in which to grow, suggesting that the tree's confinement is a form of protection from wild nature. The tree is protected from the harsh realities of the natural world, such as being struck by lightning or exposed to the elements. However, the line is also ironic because it highlights the tension between the natural world and human intervention. The irony lies in the fact that the tree is being celebrated and admired precisely for its lack of natural growth, while the true beauty and majesty of nature remain unappreciated and overlooked.

(iii)What effect do these lines have on the tree? Explain.

Ans: The lines suggest that the tree's small and weak nature is desirable and fortunate, as it makes it suitable for the art of bonsai. These lines have a psychological effect on the tree, as they reinforce the idea that its purpose is to be small and contained, rather than to grow freely and reach its full potential. It is a form of conditioning that shapes the tree to conform to human expectations and preferences.

(iv)Even though the tree had the potential to grow taller, it didn't. Why?

Ans: The tree in the poem is described as having the potential to grow tall, but this potential is intentionally, suppressed by the gardener through the practice of bonsai cultivation, in order to create a miniature version of a full-sized tree that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain in a small container.

(v)If the tree was nurtured, it would've grown tall and reached a potential Comment.


IV. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow

With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth;
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch

(i)Why should one begin very early? What do you understand by 'dwarf'?

Ans: In order to create a successful bonsai, one should begin very early, because the process of shaping and pruning the tree into the desired form is a long and gradual one. Bonsai cultivation involves a great deal of patience, care, and attention to detail, and it may take many years of careful pruning and training to achieve the desired results. The term "dwarf" in the context of bonsai cultivation refers to the practice of intentionally keeping the tree small and contained, in order to create a miniature version of a full-sized tree. 

(ii)What is the significance of 'dwarf and 'crippled?

Ans:The terms "dwarf" and "crippled" are used to describe the bonsai tree. The bonsai tree is "dwarfed" because it is grown in a small pot, which limits its growth, while the tree is "crippled" because it is pruned and shaped to fit a specific aesthetic. Symbolically, these terms represent the constraints that society and culture place on women, who are often expected to conform to specific standards of beauty and behavior. The bonsai tree serves as a metaphor for the ways in which women are pruned, shaped, and confined by societal expectations. 

(iii)Briefly explain the meaning and significance of bound feet?

Ans:The phrase "bound feet" refers to the practice of foot binding in Chinese culture, where the feet of young girls were tightly wrapped and bound to prevent their growth. In the poem  the reference to bound feet serves as a metaphor for how women have been similarly constrained and controlled by societal expectations of beauty and behavior. The bonsai tree, like the bound feet, is an object of artifice that has been shaped and restricted to fit a particular ideal. The poem suggests that both the tree and women are capable of more growth and potential if they are allowed to exist freely and naturally.

(iv) "The bound feet" and "the hair in curlers" indicates that the poet is to I talking about a tree. Who/what is the poet talking about? Justify

Ans:"The bound feet" and "the hair in curlers" indicates that the poet is no longer talking about a bonsai but rather about a women. Poet is talking about constrained imposed on women in the society. The poet uses the metaphor of a bonsai tree to comment on the societal pressure placed on women to conform to certain norms and expectations. The imagery of "bound feet" and "hair in curlers" suggests the physical constraints and beauty standards that women have been subjected to throughout history.

Note: You can also explain the meaning of  "The bound feet" and "the hair in curlers" with respect to poem i.e  The line "the bound feet" is a reference to the Chinese practice of foot binding, in which the feet of young girls were tightly bound to prevent them from growing, resulting in small, "feminine" feet. Similarly, the bonsai tree is kept small through careful pruning and shaping. The line "the hair in curlers" is a reference to the beauty rituals that women undertake to conform to society's expectations of how they should look.

(v) Explain the meaning and symbolism in "the hands you/love to touch".

Ans:"The hands you/love to touch", In this line, the poet is referring to the hands of the bonsai gardener, who carefully tends to the tree. The hands represent the love and care that the gardener puts into shaping and controlling the tree's growth. Symbolically, the line represents the power dynamics between the gardener and the tree. The tree is dependent on the gardener for its survival, and the gardener has complete control over its growth and shape. The "hands you/love to touch" also suggest a sense of ownership and possession, as the gardener takes pride in their creation and the beauty of the tree.