To Da-duh, In Memoriam Comprehension Passage


Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions set on it.


In the following extract, the narrator and her sister have come from New York to visit their grandmother, Da-duh, in the Caribbean.

One morning toward the end of our stay, Da-duh led me into a part of the gully that we had never visited before, an area darker and more thickly overgrown than the rest, almost impenetrable. There in a small clearing amid the dense bush, she stopped 10 before a royal palm which rose cleanly out of the ground, and drawing the eye up with it, soared above the trees  around it into the sky. It appeared to be touching the blue dome of sky, to be flaunting its dark crown of fronds right in the blinding white face of the late morning sun.

Da-duh watched me a long time before she spoke, and then she said very quietly, “All right, now, tell me if you’ve got anything this tall in that place you’re from.”

I almost wished, seeing her face, that I could have said no. “Yes,” I said. “We’ve got buildings 30 hundreds of times this tall in New York. There’s one called the Empire State Building that’s the tallest in the world. I can’t describe how tall it is. Wait a minute. What’s the name of that hill I went to visit the other day, where they have the police station?”

“You mean Bissex?”

“Yes, Bissex. Well, the Empire State Building is way taller than that.”

“You’re lying now! She shouted, trembling with rage. Her hand lifted to strike me.

“No, I’m not,” I said. “It really is, if you don’t believe me I’ll send you a picture 50 postcard of it soon as I get back home so you can see for yourself. But it’s way taller than Bissex.”

All the fight went out of her at that. The hand poised to strike me fell limp to her side, and as she stared at me, seeing not me but the building that was taller than the highest hill she knew, the small stubborn light in her eyes began to fail. Finally, with a vague gesture that even in the midst of her defeat still tried to dismiss me and my world, she turned and started back through the gully, walking slowly, her steps groping and 70 uncertain, as if she were suddenly no longer sure of the way, while I followed triumphant yet strangely saddened behind.

(From To Da-duh, In Memoriam in Reena and Other Stories, Paule Marshall, The feminist Press, 1983.)


(a) What characteristic of the royal palm is suggested by EACH of the following?
(i) “… rose cleanly out of the ground” (line 11)
(ii) “… drawing the eye up with it” (line 12)
(iii) “… flaunting its dark crown of fronds” (lines 16 -17) (3 marks)

(b) Why did Da-duh watch the girl for a long time before she spoke? (2marks)

(c) What does the writer suggest by the phrase “All the fight went out of her …” (line 54)? (2 marks)

(d) In lines 68-71, the writer states that Da-duh was “… walking slowly, her steps groping and uncertain, as if she were suddenly no longer sure of the …”

Give the real reason why she was walking in that way. (2 marks)

(e) Explain why the author is “strangely saddened” (line 74) (2 marks)

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