NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English Snapshots Chapter 8 – The Tale of Melon City
The Tale of Melon City Reading with insight
Narrate ‘The Tale of Melon City’ in your own words.
The ruler of the City State pretended to be justice loving and gentle. (But he was brainless and dispolite) Once he ordered a grand city gate to be built over the main road. He gave out that he wanted the moral improvement of all the spectators. One day the King rode out along that thoroughfare. His crown hit against the low arch and fell off his head. He took it as a disgrace of the crown. He ordered the guilty to be hanged.
He first summoned the chief of builders to pay for his fault. The builder chief passed on the blame to workers who blamed the wrong sized bricks. The King sent for the masons who put the blame on the architect. The planner said in self defence that the King himself had made bad correction in the original plan.
A noose was set up. But it was somewhat high. Only the King was found tall enough to fit the noose. He was hanged. As per custom, the new king was named by an idiot who was the first to pass by the road. He named ‘A Melon’ and the melon, looking fool was crowned king.
What impression would you form of a State where the King was ‘just and placid’?
It was a small city ruled by a mindless King. He could not make any sensible decision on his own. He called himself just and gentle. When actually he was a duffer. He thought that the new city gate would enlighten the onlookers. He lost his head when he lost his crown.
He wanted somebody to be hanged because the common people demanded it. But he could not fix the guilt. He himself was finally executed because he was tall enough to fit the noose. The new ruler was worse than the ex-ruler. He appeared like a melon because an idiot had suggested and named him It was a Kingdom of fools.
How, according to you, can peace and liberty be maintained in a State?
A ruler’s first and premost responsibility is to maintain law and order in the state. The masses demand peace and basic freedom of faith as well as expression. They become restive and take to violence if the ruler foolishly or cruelly and in an arbitrary planner. Only rule of law and impartial judiciary can keep people happy as well as contented.
Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony.
The Tale of Melon City tells a humorous story in verse. It has no moral or message. It, however, highlights the fact that a non sensical ruler can make the masses miserable. Nobody is safe in such a state where the King goes by his whims. Such an idiot ruler pays a heavy price with his own life.
It was ironical that the brainless and indecisive ruler called himself just and placid or gentle. He built the city gate for the moral improvement of the road users. When his crown was thrown off his head, he decided to hang somebody. The person finally ‘chosen on the basis of his height. The ministers followed the custom mindlessly. They executed the King as per Royal decree. The selected the melon-like new King on the suggestion of an idiot. Thus all the situations, decisions and actions are ironic or ridiculous.
The Tale of Melon City has been narrated in a verse form. This is a unique style which lends extra charm to an ancient tale. Find similar examples in your language.
The following poem narrates the legend of an old lady who angered Saint Peter because of her greed. Let’s read it :
A Legend of the Northland
Away, away in the Northland,
Where the hours of the day are few,
And the nights are so long in winter
That they cannot sleep them through;
Where they harness the swift reindeer
To the sledges, when it snows;
And the children took like bear’s cubs
In their funny, furry clothes;
They tell them a curious story
I don’t believe ’tis true;
And yet you may learn a lesson
If I tell the tale to you.
Once, when the good Saint Peter ,
Lived in to world below,
And walked about it, preaching,
Just as he did, you know,
He came to the door of a cottage,
In travelling round to earth,
Where a little woman was making cakes.
And backing them on the hearth;
And being faint with fasting,
For. the day was almost done,
He asked her, from her store of cakes,
To give him a single one.
So she made a veiy little cake,
But as it baking lay,
She looked at it, and thought it seemed
Too large to give away.
Therefore she kneaded another,
And still a smaller one;i
But it looked, when she turned it over,
As large as the first had done.
Then she took a tiny scrap of dough,
And rolled and rolled it flat;
And baked it thin as a wafer
But she couldn’t part with that.
For she said, “My cakes that seem too small
When I eat of them myself
And yet too large to give away.”
So she put them on the shelf.
Then good Saint Peter grew angry,
For he was hungry and faint;
And surely such a woman
Was enough to provoke a saint.
And he said, “You are far too selfish
To dwell in a human form,
To have both food and shelter,
And fire to keep you warm.
Now, you shall build as the birds do,
Ans shall get your scanty food
By boring, and boring, and boring,
All day in the hard, dry wood.”
Then up she went through the chimney,
Never speaking a word, ‘
And out of the top few a woodpecker,
For she was changed to a bird.
She had a scarlet cap on the head,
And what was left the same;
But all the rest of her clothes were burned
Black as a coal in the flame.
And every country schoolboy
Has seen her in the wood,
Where she lives in the trees till this very day,
Boring and borings for food.