The Blue Bead Summary by Norah Burke

Treasure Trove Poems and Short Stories Workbook Answers

The Blue Bead Summary by Norah Burke

The Blue Bead Summary About the Author

Norah Aileen Burke (2nd August, 1907-1976), was a celebrated English novelist and non-fiction writer famous for her descriptions of life in India during the early 20th century. Her father was a forest officer in India during her early childhood. Thus, she got an ample chance to interact with the wildlife in India, which inspired her to include them in her works, the famous among them being ‘Jungle Child’ (1956), ‘Eleven Leopards’ (1965) and ‘Midnight Forests’ (1966).

The Blue Bead Summary

This story starts with a mugger crocodile lying motionless waiting for food. Beside him lay a small blue bead. In the village above the river lived a little girl, Sibia. Being poor she never owned anything but a rag. Her family could not even afford her a new needle or a handful of beads to make a necklace. She worked with her mother and other women collecting paper grass from above the river.

After a good collection was made, they would take it down to the bullock cart and sell it to the agent who would arrange for it to be sent to the paper mills. On the way lived some Gujar people, the nomadic graziers, who stayed there till their animals finished grazing at that spot. One day when the women returned back after toiling for the entire dav, Sibia decided to rest on the way. While she was resting, a Gujar woman came down to fill two pots and when she was filling them a huge crocodile attacked her, biting down on the woman’s leg, blood spreading everywhere. Quickly Sibia, who was watching .

This attack, ran over and stabbed the crocodile in the eves, the only vulnerable area, with her havfork. The crocodile swam away convulsively in pain. After having being rescued Sibia she brought her to the shore, applied sand on her wound, tied it with a rag and helped her home. When she came back to pick her things, she saw the blue bead laying in the river. She picked it up and brought it home happily and told her mom about the bead that she had found for her necklace.

The Blue Bead Summary Word Meanings :

1. Whirlpool : An area of water in a river, stream, etc. that moves very fast in a circle
2. Dislodge : To forcefully remove
3. Jostle : To push against while moving forward in a crowd
4. Rippled : Moved in small waves
5. Trilling : Twirl, revolve
6. Mugger : A freshwater crocodile found in India
7. Antediluvian : Very old or old-fashioned
8. Formidable : Very powerful or strong
9. Fend : Defend, guard
10. Putrid : Rotten, very ugly or unpleasant
11. Tepid : Not hot and not cold; lukewarm
12. Armoured hide : Thick skin which acts as a armour
13. Gharials : Crocodiles
14. Ford : A shallow part of a river etc. that may be crossed by walking
15. Perforated : Having holes
16. Starveling : Very thin due to lack of food; malnourished
17. Rancid : Having strong and unpleasant smell
18. Goosey-cold : Extreme cold that causes goosebumps
19. One anna : 1/16th of a rupee
20. Gaunt : Plain and unpleasant in appearance
21. Forebears : Forefathers
22. Swooping : To fly down through the air suddenly
23. Dawdle : To spend time idly
24. Hayfork : A long handed fork used for moving hay
25. Boulder : A very large and rounded rock
26. Lunge : A sudden forward movement
27. Darkling : In the dark
28. Heaved : Lifted or pulled with effort
29. Threshing : Striking repeatedly
30. Flail : To strike or hit in a wild and uncontrolled way
31. Prong : A long point of a fork
32. Convulsion : An uncontrolled fit
33. Wobbling : Moving unsteadily from side to side
34. Smudged : Made unclear
35. Morose : Very sad or unhappy
36. Makna elephant : Tuskless, dangerous elephant’

The Blue Bead Summary Question and Answer

Question 1.
Describe ‘Poverty’ as one of the themes of the story ‘The Blue Bead’.
Sibia, the protagonist of the story, is a young girl of twelve years who lived in poverty. We see her as a child in rags, thin and starving. She didn’t possess even one anna, a piece or a pit to buy a handful of glass beads or one of the thin glass bangles from the bazaar. She lost her childhood in doing household work, she husked corn, gathered sticks, put dung to dry, cooked, fetched water, cut grass for fodder and accompanied her mother and other ladies to get paper grass from the cliffs above the river. Thus, we see that Sibia characterises the other poor girls and women of her group who worked hard to arrange the necessities’ of their life.

Sibia divided her chappati to make it seem more, she stood expectantly infront of sweet stalls, but couldn’t have them, her desire to wear silver threaded satin clothes was replaced with earth coloured rags and she has to wait to buy a small needle to make her necklace as hers is broken and they don’t have money to buy a mere small needle.

Question 2.
How does Sibia, a simple, young poor girl become the heroine of the story ‘The Blue Bead’? What reward does she get for her
brave act?
In Narah Burke’s story ‘The Blue Bead’, Sibia is a poor child who has never owned much in her entire life. She was marked for work from life to death. She is very hard working. She helped her mother to make money by picking paper grass for hours, up the hill. She doesn’t have a single penny to buy a glass bead nor a needle to make her necklace.

One day, after finishing the day’s work of cutting paper grass, she stays back while all other women, along with Sibia’s mother, come back to their village. She walked down the ghats of the river, and walked across the stepping stones, but shortly after another woman came to fill her ‘gurrahs’. Suddenly, an armored mugger lunged at her leg dropping the brass ‘gurrahs’ in the river! Sibia knew she had to do something. She needed to help her! Immediately came into action. She flew towards the woman, jumping from boulder to boulder, which are normally difficult to cross, due to the big gap at some places.

She quickly jumped in the boiling bloody water, faced the strong Saurian right in the eye, and with her hayfork aimed at the crocodile’s eyes, which is the most vulnerable spot in its body.The crocodile crashed exploded the water. The convulsion made it swim away in pain. Sibia then dragged the Gujar woman out of the water, stops her wounds with sand and bound them with a rag and helped her to reach her encampment.When she came back to get her grass, sickle and fork, she saw a ‘Blue Bead’ laying in the stream and fetches it. She is overjoyed and carries it home ecstatically. Now she would be able to complete her necklace!

The Blue Bead Summary Extract Based Questions

Question 1.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“Now, nothing could pierce the inch-thick armoured hide. Not even rifle bullets, which would bounce off.”
(i) Who is being spoken of in the above lines? Describe him.
(ii) From whom did the baby crocodile face danger to its life? How does the crocodile store its food?
(iii) In what words has the author highlighted the power and magnificence of the crocodile?
(iv) Which are the vulnerable parts in the body of a crocodile?
(v) What is the author’s intention of mentioning a blue bead while describing the crocodile?
(i) The creature mentioned here is the mugger crocodile. It is twice the length of a tall man. It is blackish brown above and yellowish white below. His mouth is almost the whole length of his head and tinged green, and its tail is quite huge and strong.

(ii) The baby crocodile had danger from the birds of prey and the great carnivorous fish.
The crocodile caught the food it needed and stored it till it decayed, in holes in the bank.

(iii) The author has used the following words to highlight the strength and grandeur of the crocodile
“This ante diluvian saurian – this prehistoric juggernaut, ferocious and formidable, a vast force in the water, propelled by the unimaginable and irresistible power of the huge tail.”

(iv) Nothing can pierce the inch-thick armored hide of the crocodile, not even rifle bullets. The only places that are vulnerable are the eyes and the soft underarms.

(v) The story’s title is ‘The Blue Bead’. The protagonist of the story, about whom we get to know later, is earnestly in search of a bead to make a necklace for herself, and she finds this bead near the crocodile. But what all that she goes through to get it is adventurous. Thus, the Blue Bead carried great significance and is mentioned in the beginning itself.

Question 2.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“She was going with her mother and some other women now to get paper grass from the cliffs above the river.”
(i) Who is ‘She’? Describe the girl, her food and lifestyle.
(ii) Where and what kind of ‘finery’ had poor Sibia seen? What kind of work had Sibia done?
(iii) Where had the Gujar males gone? How does the author describe the buffaloes?
(iv) What similarity exists between the Gujars and Sibica?
(v) Who were the Gujars? Describe the Gujar women.
(i) ‘She’ is referred to the protagonist of the story ‘Sibia’. She is a twelve year, earthy colour, thin girl with ebony hair. She had never owned anything except a rag which she had torn in two to make a skirt and a sari. She lived in such poverty that she divides her chapatti into several pieces to make it seem more and she has to wait to buy another needle when one breaks while piercing the beads. She remains bare foot and goosey-cold even in winters. She was born to labour

(ii) Sibia had seen the finery in the bazaar in the little town at the rail head which she had visited with her family after passing through the jungles. In the bazaar, she had gazed amazingly at the wonderful green and magenta coloured honey confections surrounded with dust and flies.Then she came across the cloth stall with big rolls of new cotton cloth smelling of the mills. She also saw satin sewn with real silver thread, tin trays from Birmingham, and a sari embroidered with chips looking like glass at the borders.

In the bazaar was a Kashmiri travelling merchant showing dawn-coloured silks, he also had a little locked chest with turquoises and opals in it. Amongst all of these, she loved the box which when pressed, a bell tinkled and a yellow woollen chicken jumped out.Throughout her life, Sibia seemed to be born to do various kinds of work like, husking corn, gathering sticks, putting dung to dry, cooking and weeding, fetching water and cutting grass for fodder.

(iii) The Gujar men and boys were out of camp with the herd or had gone to the bazaar to sell produce. The author describes the buffaloes as creatures of great wet noses and moving jaws and gaunt black bones.

(iv) Both, Sibia and Gujars, were junglis, as they were born and bred in the forest. For many centuries, their forefathers had lived in a similar manner, living on animals, grass and trees. They searched their food together and stored their substance in large heads and silver jewellery. They were neither Stone Age Hunters nor Modern Cultivators, but were ‘Man in the Wandering Pastoral Age’.

(v) Gujars was a tribe of nomadic graziers who temporarily camped at a place till their animals finished all the easy grazing within their reach or till they were unable to sell enough of their white butter or milk in the district, or they couldn’t find a customer for the young male buffaloes for tiger bait.The Gujar women wore trousers, tight and wrinkled at the ankles. In their ears they wore large silver rings made out of melted rupees.

Question 3.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“Sibia sprang from boulder to boulder she came leaping like a rock goat.”
(i) Why were the women going to the cliff above the river ?
(ii) Why was Sibia left alone? Why was she there? What made her spring into action
(iii) Why didn’t the mugger move when the women crossed the river?
(iv) Describe the crocodile’s attack and how Sibia defeated him.
(v) What was it that made Sibia overjoyed? What does this reflect about her?
(i) Sibia, along with her mother and other women of the village went to get paper grass from above the river,which they sold in bulk to the agent who would arrange it to be sent to the paper mills.

(ii) This day when their task was done, the women went back home while Sibia dawdled around to see if the little clay cups were still there in the cave and was last to go back. In the middle of the way, she decided to take a break as she was tired and loaded. At that same moment, a Gujar woman went down to the river to fetch water in her ‘gurrahs’. Suddenly the crocodile attacks her unaware. Sibia instead of getting terrified runs to save the woman. Thus, she springs into action.

(iii) The mugger didn’t move as the noise frightens crocodiles. While crossing the river the women laughed and bickered in plenty. They girded up their skirts and jumped from stone to stone. The sickles and forks which they held over their shoulders, clanked. They quarreled with each other noisy. This scared the crocodiles which lay docile while they moved across.

(iv) As the Gujar woman comes near the water to fill her vessels, the crocodile lunges at her. His jaws closed in on the woman’s leg, spreading blood everywhere. She grabs onto the rock but the strong crocodile pulls the woman and she loses the grip. She is able to grab a log caught between two rocks. Brave Sibia jumps into action on seeing this. The crocodile splashed the water forcefully with its tail but Sibia did not hesitate. She drove her hayfork into the crocodile’s eye as fiercefully as she could. He was retreated painfully. He let go his prey and disappeared.

(v) When Sibia returns to pick her sickle and bundle of paper grass after helping the Gujar woman, she notices a blue bead in water and picks it up. She is ecstatic to get it. Her aspiration of life to make a necklace for herself is fulfilled. She feels boundless joy when she tells her mother about the bead.

But she does not even mention the fatal combat she had experienced in which she had emerged victorious. This shows that she was extremely brave and adventurous. This also highlights the fact that for poor people like Sibia, the fulfilment of little dreams is much more important and significant than saving a life.

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