Analysis, Question And Answers of Night Voices by Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle ICSE Class 8 English Literature

Analysis, Question And Answers of Night Voices by Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle ICSE Class 8 English Literature

Question-And-Answers-of-Night-Voices-by-Arthur-Ignatius-Conan Doyle ICSE Class 8

About the Poet

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was a Scottish physician and a renowned writer. He is the creator of the famous detective series of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson (both the characters appeared in “A Study in Scarlet” for the first time).

He was born on May 22, 1859, to Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary in Edinburg, Scotland. Doyle went to a Jesuit school called Stella Matutina in Austria and had studied there from 1875- 1876. He studied medicine from 1876- 1881 at the University of Edinburg Medical School. He has written various places, historical novels, romances and poetry. He was also involved in politics. He had also served as an advocate. Doyle had interests in architecture and sports as well. he received various awards including the title of Queen’s South Africa Medal (in 1901) and that of Knight Bachelor (in 1902) and many others. He considered himself to be a spiritualist.

Some of his famous works are “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, “The Final Problem”, “The Mystery of Cloomber”, “The White Company”, “The Lost World”, “The Poems”, “A Parable”, etc.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in the year 1930 on July 7 in Crowborough, East Sussex due to a heart attack.

About the Poem

“Night Voices” is a creepy poem. The first two stanzas seem to be part of an active conversation between a child and his father. In the whole poem, the gender of the child is not clear. But for convenience, the child is referred to as a male child. In the third stanza, things take a turn when the child becomes almost confirmed that something is wrong and wants to leave the place. In the last stanza, the father is portrayed as an eerie and uncanny figure in the poem.

Structure of the Poem

“Father, father, who is that a-whispering?
Who is it who whispers in the wood?
You say it is the breeze
As it sighs among the trees,
But there’s someone who whispers in the wood.

Father, father, who is that a-murmuring?
Who is it who murmurs in the night?
You say it is the roar
Of the wave upon the shore,
But there’s someone who murmurs in the night.

Father, father, who is that who laughs at us?
Who is it who chuckles in the glen?
Oh, father, let us go,
For the light is burning low,
And there’s somebody laughing in the glen.

Father, father, tell me what you’re waiting for,
Tell me why your eyes are on the door.
It is dark and it is late,
But you sit so still and straight,
Ever staring, ever smiling, at the door.”

The poem has a specific pattern to it. The second and fifth line of every stanza ends with the same word. The rhyming scheme is abccb.

Line by Line Analysis of the Poem

Stanza 1

“Father, father, who is that a-whispering?
Who is it who whispers in the wood?
You say it is the breeze
As it sighs among the trees,
But there’s someone who whispers in the wood.”

In the first stanza, a child seems to be scared of something. The child can hear noises coming from the forest nearby. He asks his father about the whispers that could be heard. The father replied that it was just the winds and there was absolutely nothing to be worried about. But the child didn’t seem to be satisfied by this reply and had been pretty much confirmed that there was something or someone in the woods making the noises. The stanza shows the fear in a child of the unknown voices that he could hear.

Stanza 2

“Father, father, who is that a-murmuring?
Who is it who murmurs in the night?
You say it is the roar
Of the wave upon the shore,
But there’s someone who murmurs in the night.”

In the second stanza, the child asked his father about the noises again. This time, he could hear murmurs in the woods. This time, the father replies that those were sounds of the waves hitting the seashore. Even then, the child believed that there had to be someone who was murmuring and it was not just the sounds of waves.

Stanza 3

“Father, father, who is that who laughs at us?
Who is it who chuckles in the glen?
Oh, father, let us go,
For the light is burning low,
And there’s somebody laughing in the glen.”

The child felt that they were being laughed at by someone. He felt someone was smiling and chuckling. He expressed his wish to leave the place since it was already dark and the light was burning low too. Also, he was scared by this mysterious entity laughing at them. This is where things become very suspicious and scary.

Stanza 4

“Father, father, tell me what you’re waiting for,
Tell me why your eyes are on the door.
It is dark and it is late,
But you sit so still and straight,
Ever staring, ever smiling, at the door.”

In the last stanza of the poem, a creepy and uncanny image of the father had been portrayed. Again In the last three stanzas, the child had clearly expressed his fear. In this stanza, it is said that apparently, the father is just waiting for something in the dark place despite knowing that his child is scared. The child is confused as to why his father is sitting there still and with no movement. The father is just sitting and staring at the door with a smile on his face. The poem has a very eerie and mysterious ending to it.

Figures of speech used in the Poem

Alliteration: This is a figure of speech where closely associated words or corresponding words begin with the same alphabet in a sentence.
“Father, father, who is that a- whispering?”
“Father, father, who is that a- murmuring?”
“Father, father, who is that laughs at us?”
“Father, father, tell me what you’re waiting for,”

Glossary

  • Wood: Forest.
  • Glen: A narrow valley (especially in Ireland or Scotland)

The theme of the poem

The poem has an eerie touch to it. The child is upset and afraid of the noises that he could hear. According to him, the noises came from the woods nearby. He could hear whispers, murmurs, and laughs. As a twist, the father tends to become a suspicious and horror figure by the end of the poem. The poem stays unexplained at the end. By the end of the poem, it was unclear if the child was actually in safe hands or not.

Textbook Solutions

1. What sounds does the child hear in the night?
Ans: The child hears eerie sounds from the woods. He hears whispers and murmurs. The child also feels someone is laughing at him and his father. He hears chuckles from the woods too.

2. Does the child think it is (i) an animal sound or (ii) a human voice? Why do you say so?
Ans: The child thinks it is a human voice. The usage of words “whispers”, “murmurs”, “laughs” by the child shows that he is referring to a human and not some animal. Also when he asks his father about the mysterious entity, he uses “who” instead of “what”, and “who” is usually used to address a human.

3. What explanation does the father give for the sounds?
Ans: For the whispers, the father says that it is the wind or breeze passing through the trees that are making whisper-like sounds. To justify the murmurs, the father says that it is the sound of the waves hitting the seashore

4. Is the child satisfied with the explanations? How do you know?
Ans: The child is not at all satisfied with the explanations that the father gave. This is clearly understood because even after the explanations the child wants to leave the place because he is already convinced that there is someone in the woods. If he were satisfied, he would not have had difficulties with staying at the place.

5. Which lines tell us that the child is afraid of the dark?
Ans: The following lines tell us that the child is afraid of the dark:

“Who is it who murmurs in the night?”
“Oh, father, let us go,
For the light is burning low.”

“It is dark and it is late”

6. Father, father, tell me what you’re waiting for,
Tell me why your eyes are on the door.
It is dark and it is late,
But you sit so still and straight,
Ever staring, ever-smiling, at the door.”
(i) Which lines of the stanza tell us that the child is getting impatient with the father?
(ii) Why do you think the father is sitting ‘so still and straight’?
(iii) What do you think the father is staring at the door and smiling for?
Ans: (i) The lines that tell us that the child is getting impatient with the father are as follows:

“Father, father, tell me what you’re waiting for,
Tell me why your eyes are on the door”

(ii) The reason as to why the father is sitting ‘so still and straight’ is not very clear in the poem. One possibility could be that the father, himself was the horror figure here which the child could not understand initially. Another possibility could be that the father knew something was wrong but he too was somehow a part of it.

(iii) The father stared at the door and kept smiling. That is the scariest part of the poem. It is mysterious and unclear as to why he was doing this, probably he was the actual eerie image that the child should have been afraid of.

7. Does the poem make you feel sad, nervous, or a little scared? Why?
Ans: An eerie mood had been set up by the poet in the poem. It gives eerie vibes. The way the whole ambience had been described by the poet is scary. And finally, the strange behaviour of the father is more mysterious and scarier.

8. Do you think the father answered the child’s questions truthfully? Give a reason for your answer.
Ans: In the first two stanzas, the answers given by the father as justifications were pretty accurate. In the last stanza though, the father was portrayed differently, as if he was the main horror figure. That was when it could be thought that the father probably did not answer the child’s questions truthfully.

9. Fill in the blanks:
There are 5 lines in each stanza.
The 2nd and the5th line in each stanza end with the same word.
The3rd and the 4th line in each stanza end with rhyming words.
Rearrange the words in these lines: (Last word in each line is underlined)

10 Rearrange the words in these lines: (Last word in each line is underlined)
I/ knocking. /I/ Father, / heard/ some/ father, / think

on/ the/ that’s/ porch? / Who/ is/ walking/ it

I/ see. / none/ can/ that/ There’s

dark/ and/ For/ it’s / dreary. / quite

sure/ But/ I’m/ someone / porch. / the/ on/ there’s

Ans: Father, father, I think I heard some knocking.

Who is it that’s walking on the porch?

There’s none that I can see.

For it’s quite dark and dreary.

But I’m sure there’s someone on the porch

11. Find the number of syllables in each line:

Father, father, who is that a- whispering? – 12
Who is it who whispers in the wood? – 9
You say it is the breeze – 6
As it sighs among the trees, – 7
But there’s someone who whispers in the wood. – 11

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