A Considerable Speck Question Answers | Treasure Chest - Beeta

Amit Kumar

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Summary Of Poem: A Considerable Speck

The speaker was writing something on a sheet of paper when he suddenly noticed a 'speck', which he would not have been able to see had it not been moving on a white sheet of paper. He was just about to stop writing by marking a period (full stop) when he steadily held his pen in the air as something strange about it' made him think that it was not a speck of dust blown over by his breath-a speck of fluff. But it was, without any doubt, 'a living mite' having its own feelings and decision-making power.

After careful observation, the speaker found that the mite had stopped running as if it were frightened of his pen. But again it started running wildly and came up to the place on the paper where the ink had not yet dried and it stopped. It drank or smelt the ink but with a feeling of intense dislike and turned again to move. This made the speaker realise that the tiny insect had a mind of its own as well as intelligence. The speaker thought that the mite could not have feet as it was too small. Yet he felt it must have had a set of them which it used to run and escape as it did not want to die. Here, the speaker is referring to the natural tendency of every living thing, from a speck to the highest category i.e., man--the desire to continue to live in whatever form it is.

The speaker says that the mite ran in fear for its life, creeping, faltering, going on and hesitating. But it finally cowered motionless in the middle of the sheet of paper, as if it had resigned itself to its fate, i.e., the human God, the speaker. The speaker refrained from killing the mite not because he believed in 'Collectivistic regimenting love', an ideology quite popular in the modern world. Tenderer-than-thou Collectivistic regmenting love has reference to the growth of communism during that time. Communism is a political system where the state controls everything advocating the importance of the group over the individual and rejecting the presence of God. The poets talks of communism sweeping over the world. In contrast is the compassion of God allowing the little creature to rest without any harm coming upon it. The poet did not kill the mite because he found that the mite had a mind of its own and therefore, the right to live. Perhaps, the speaker is suggesting that 'a speck' with intelligence is superior to a human who is devoid of wit and intelligence. The speaker went on to say that since the mite was too small (i.e. microscopic) and he did not find anything evil in it, he allowed it to sleep on the sheet of paper.

The poem ends with a quatrain, in which the speaker drily but humorously says that he was delighted to encounter, the display of mind' on a sheet of paper.


Section A: Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)

Choose the correct answers to the questions from the given options.

1. What made the speaker notice the speck that would have been beneath his sight?
(a) Its presence on a white sheet of paper
(b) Its shape like a full-stop
(c) Its dark colour
(d) None of the above.
Ans: a) Its presence on a white sheet of paper

2. What was strange thing that made the speaker to think about the speck?
(a) The speck was a living mite
(b) The speck was clearly visible to him
(c) The speck was a figment of his imagination 
(d) The speck was a fluff of dust.
Ans: a) The speck was a living mite

3. What was it' that the speaker said that living mite 'could call its own?
(a) Movements
(b) Decisions
(c) Fears
(d) Feelings.
Ans: d) Feelings

4. What was the mite's 'suspicion'? 
(a) Of being thrown away from paper
(b) Of being blown away by the speaker's breath
(c) Of getting killed by the speaker's pen
(d) All of the above.
Ans: (c) Of getting killed by the speaker's pen

5. What did the mite drink or smell?
(a) Ink
(b) Water
(c) Sweat
(d) None of the above.
Ans: (a) Ink

6. Which figure of speech is used in the phrase 'with cunning crept?
(a) Assonance
(b) Simile
(c) Metonymy
(d) Alliteration
Ans: (d) Alliteration

7. Which poetic device is used in the line given below? 'With loathing, for again it turned to fly.'
(a) Metaphor
(b) Personification
(c) Simile
(d) Oxymoron
Ans: (b) Personification

8. The speaker decided not to kill the mite because of which of its qualities?
(a) Small size
(b) Fear of the speaker
(c) Intelligence
(d) All of the above
Ans: (c) Intelligence

9. Which characteristic trait of the speaker is revealed in the line uttered by him? 'Whatever I accorded it of fate.'
(a) Arrogance
(b) Annoyance
(c) Superiority
(d) None of the above.
Ans: (c) Superiority

10. Which figure of speech is used in the line given below? 'I have none of the tenderer-than-thou.'
(a) Personification
(b) Metaphor
(c) Simile
(d) Alliteration
Ans: (d) Alliteration

11. According to the speaker, the modern world is swept by which of the following?
(a) Individualism
(b) Collectivism
(c) Selfishness
(d) None of the above.
Ans: (b) Collectivism

12. Why did the poet allow the mite to doze off instead of killing it? 
(a) It was too tired and wanted to take rest
(b) He believed in collectivistic ideology
(c) It did not intend any harm to him
(d) None of the above.
Ans: (c) It did not intend any harm to him

13. Which of the following poetic devices is used in the title of the poem?
(a) Paradox
(b) Metaphor
(c) Personification
(d) Oxymoron
Ans: (d) Oxymoron

14. What is the central theme of the poem?
(a) Mind, its creativity and imagination
(b) Collectivistic ideology
(c) Superiority of man
(d) None of the above.
Ans: (a) Mind, its creativity and imagination

15. Which of the following lines contains the same literary device as the one in the title of the poem, 'A Considerable Speck?
(a) The little window where the sun 
     Came peeping in at morn
(b) His honour rooted in dishonour stood 
      And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.
(c) Good we must love and must hate ill, 
     For ill is ill and good good still.
(d) Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb 
     The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Ans: (b) His honour rooted in dishonour stood 
              And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.

Section B: Context Questions

I. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
    A speck that would have been beneath my sight 
    On any but a paper sheet so white 
    Set off across what I had written there. 
    And I had idly poised my pen in air 
    To stop it with a period of ink 
    When something strange about it made me think, 
    This was no dust speck by my breathing blown, 
    But unmistakably a living mite 
    With inclinations it could call its own.

(i) When did the speaker notice 'a speck'? Why did he feel that it would have been beneath his sight?
Ans: The speaker was writing something on a white sheet of paper, when he suddenly noticed 'a speck'. He felt that it would have been beneath his sight because he was busy writing moreover the speck was so small and seemingly insignificant. The speck was tiny and easily overlooked, but its movement and apparent purpose caught the speaker's attention.

(ii) Why did the speaker idly poise his pen in the air?
Ans: The speaker idly poised his pen in the air because he observed something strange about the speck and was momentarily distracted by the sight of the tiny speck. This action indicates a pause in his writing, where his attention shifts from his work to observing the speck.

(iii) What was 'strange' about it that attracted the speaker's attention? What was the speck in reality?
Ans: The speck's movement and appearance attracted the speaker's attention and made him think that it was not a speck of dust blown over by his breath. In reality, it was a tiny living mite.

(iv) Explain the meaning of the last line of this extract.
Ans: The last line of this extract means that the mite possesses its own set of desires and tendencies. This suggests that the mite was not merely a passive object but a living creature, having its own feelings and decision-making power.

(v) Explain briefly how does this extract justify the title of the poem.
Ans: The extract justifies the title "A Considerable Speck" by highlighting the speaker's significant attention to something seemingly insignificant. The speck, which would ordinarily be beneath notice due to its small size, becomes "considerable" because it exhibits signs of life and purpose. It was 'a living mite' having its own feelings and decision-making power.

II. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
    Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
    It seemed too tiny to have room for feet, 
    Yet must have had a set of them complete 
    To express how much it didn't want to die. 
    It ran with terror and with cunning crept. 
    It faltered: I could see it hesitate; 
    Then in the middle of the open sheet 
    Cower down in desperation to accept 
    Whatever I accorded it of fate.

(i) Which characteristic trait of the mite is the speaker talking about in the first line of this extract? Why?
Ans: In the first line of this extract, "Plainly with an intelligence I dealt," the speaker is talking about the intelligence of the mite. The speaker recognizes that the mite, despite its tiny size, exhibits behaviors that suggest a level of awareness and intent. This recognition is based on the mite's actions, such as running with terror, cunningly creeping, hesitating, and ultimately cowering in desperation.

(ii) Why did the speaker at first think that the mite did not have feet? What made him change his stance at the very next moment?
Ans: The speaker first thought that the mite could not have feet as it was too small. But the very next moment he felt it must have set of feet through which it was running to escape as it did not want to die.

(iii) What made the speaker realise that it didn't want to die?
Ans: The speaker realized that the mite didn't want to die because it exhibited behaviors such as running with terror, and creeping as an act of self-conservation every living thing possesses. These actions demonstrated the mite's instinct to avoid death and desire to continue to live.

(iv) What did 'It' do in the middle of the sheet of paper? Why?
Ans: In the middle of the sheet of paper, the mite cowered down in desperation to accept the fate whatever may be in the middle of the sheet of paper. It did this because it realized it was vulnerable and likely trapped, demonstrating its fear and acceptance of whatever fate the speaker might decide for it.

(v) Explain the attitude of the speaker towards the mite in this extract.
Ans: The speaker's attitude towards the mite is one of compassionate curiosity and respect. Intrigued by its intelligence and purposeful behavior, the speaker empathizes with the mite's fear and desperation. Choosing not to harm it, the speaker acknowledges its will to live, demonstrating an appreciation for all forms of life, regardless of size.


III. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
    I have none of the tenderer-than-thou 
    Collectivistic regimenting love 
    With which the modern world is being swept. 
    But this poor mucroscopic item now! 
    Since it was nothing I knew evil of 
    I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

(i) Which trait is the speaker referring to which he says he does not have? What is the result of lacking this trait?
Ans: The speaker refers to the trait of "tenderer-than-thou collectivistic regimenting love" which he says he does not have. This phrase criticizes the self-righteous, overbearing, and conformist attitude that he perceives in modern society. The result of lacking this trait is that the speaker is more individualistic and empathetic, leading him to treat the mite with compassion and let it rest peacefully, rather than imposing his will on it.

(ii) Explain with reference to context the meaning of the phrase Collectivistic regimenting love'.
Ans: The phrase "collectivistic regimenting love" criticizes the principle of collectivism that suppresses individualism. This phrase references communism, which emphasizes the needs of the group over the individual. It satirizes people's tendency to conform to the collective identity, criticizing how individual freedom and personal identity are suppressed in favor of group conformity.

(iii) To whom did the speaker refer to as 'poor microscopic item? Why? What does it suggest about the speaker?
Ans: The speaker refers to the mite as the "poor microscopic item" because of its tiny size and apparent helplessness. It suggests that the speaker has a sense of pity for the mite despite its size, shows that he respects the individuality of even a tiny creature.

(iv) Why did the speaker let it lie there? Do you think the speaker was right in doing so? Give reason to support your answer.
Ans: The speaker let the mite lie there because he sees no reason to harm it and also he respects the individuality of it who tried its best to preserve itself. Yes, the speaker was right in doing so. His action reflects a compassionate and humane attitude, showing kindness to even the tiniest forms of life.

(v) Explain how does this extract reflect on the theme of the poem.
Ans: This extract reflects the poem's theme by emphasizing empathy and the value of individual life. The speaker's compassionate treatment of the tiny mite highlights the significance of every living being and critiques the collective mindset of modern society that often overlooks individual worth.

IV. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
     I have a mind myself and recognize 
     Mind when I meet with it in any guise
     No one can know how glad I am to find
     On any sheet the least display of mind.

(i) What does the speaker want to convey by saying that he has a mind? Which characteristic trait of the speaker is conveyed by this assertion?
Ans: By saying that he has a mind, the speaker wants to convey that he possesses awareness, intelligence, and the ability to think critically. This assertion reflects the speaker's appreciation for intellect and consciousness. It conveys the characteristic trait of the speaker as someone who values and recognizes the presence of intelligence and purposeful behavior, even in the smallest of creatures.

(ii) Where does the speaker find the mind? In which 'guise' does he find it? How does he recognise it?
Ans: The speaker finds the mind in the tiny mite. He encounters it in the "guise" of a small, seemingly insignificant creature. He recognizes the mind through the mite's purposeful behavior and actions, such as fear, confusion, and terror in order to survive.

(iii) How does the speaker reward it for displaying its mind? Why does the speaker not punish it for trespassing his sheet of paper?
Ans: The speaker rewards the mite for displaying its mind by allowing it to live and letting it lie there until it rests. The speaker does not punish the mite for trespassing on his sheet of paper because he recognizes its intelligence and will to live. This empathy and respect for even the smallest form of life reflect the speaker's compassionate and humane attitude.

(iv) What is the reason for the speaker's feeling of gladness? Give the symbolic meaning of the line 'On any sheet the least display of mind.'
Ans: The speaker feels gladness because he recognizes and appreciates the presence of intelligence and awareness in the tiny mite. The line "On any sheet the least display of mind" symbolizes the speaker's appreciation for intelligence and awareness in any form. It reflects his value for individual thought, even in the smallest creatures, underscoring the theme of respecting all life.

(v) What is the central theme of this poem? How is an inconsequential mite used to justify the theme of the poem?
Ans: The central theme of the poem, 'A Considerable Speck' is the importance of the human faculty of mind, its imagination and creativity. The poet recognises and appreciates the use of mind by an inconsequential mite, which appears on a sheet of paper on which he was writing something. The mite uses it mind, imagination and creativity to preserve itself which is better than humans who influenced by the principle of collectivism.


V. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
     It paused as with suspicion of my pen, 
     And then came racing wildly on again 
     To where my manuscript was not yet dry; 
     Then paused again and either drank or smelt--
     With loathing, for again it turned to fly.

(i) What is referred to by 'It' that paused with suspicion? Why did it do so?
Ans: "It" refers to the mite. The mite paused with suspicion because it was wary of the pen, possibly perceiving it as a threat. This behavior demonstrates the mite's instinct for self-preservation and its cautious nature in an unfamiliar environment.

(ii) Why did it start racing wildly after a pause? Why was the manuscript not yet dry?
Ans: The mite started racing wildly after a pause probably because, the ink made it feel it was not safe, so, out of fear, suspicion and terror started racing wildly. The manuscript was not yet dry because the speaker had recently written on the paper, and the ink had not had enough time to dry completely.

(iii) What did 'It' drink or smell with loathing? Why? What did it do after that?
Ans: The mite either drank or smelled the fresh ink on the manuscript with loathing to check whether it was safe or not. It likely found the ink unappealing or even repulsive. After this, it turned away in disgust and started to flee until it reached the middle of the paper, indicating its aversion to the ink.

(iv) Explain briefly, the use of imagery in the extract.
Ans: The poet has used visual imagery to describe how an insignificant speck turns out to a living and considerable speck. The speaker has beautifully described how the mite pauses on getting suspicious about the speaker's pen doing harm to it and races wildly in desperation, accepting its fate and dozing off in the middle of the sheet of paper.

(v) How does the speaker deal with the mite? What makes him do so? How does the speaker's action justify the theme of the poem.
Ans: The speaker observes the mite with curiosity and empathy, allowing it to move freely on the paper without harm. The speaker do so because he sees the intelligence display of mind by a small mite and so this action justifies the theme of the poem, which emphasizes the value of individual life and intelligence. By sparing the mite and observing its actions with interest, the speaker demonstrates an appreciation for the intrinsic worth of even the most inconsequential creatures.

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