Read the extract and answer the following questions.

Extract:

We finally reached the top of the pass at 5,515 metres. It was marked by a large cairn of rocks festooned with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags. We all took a turn round the cairn, in a clockwise direction as is the tradition, and Tsetan checked the tyres on his vehicle. He stopped at the petrol tank and partially unscrewed the top, which emitted a loud hiss. The lower atmospheric pressure was allowing the fuel to expand. It sounded dangerous to me. “Maybe, sir,” Tsetan laughed “but no smoking.”

(Silk Road)

Silk Road - Extract Based Question (4) - Teachoo.png

 

Question (i)

What is a cairn and why is it decorated with white silk scarves and prayer flags?

Answer:

Answer as written by the student:

 A cairn is a pile or stack of stones that is used as a landmark or a memorial. It is decorated with white silk scarves and prayer flags as a sign of respect or reverence for the sacred place or the spirits of the ancestors.

 Step-by-step explanation of the answer: 🗻

  •    To answer this question, we need to use our knowledge of culture and religion and the context of the extract.
  •    Culture and religion tell us that a cairn is a pile or stack of stones that is used as a landmark or a memorial . It is a common feature in many cultures and regions around the world. It can mark a boundary, a route, a grave, or a site of significance. It can also serve as a symbol of remembrance, gratitude, or honour.
  •    The context of the extract tells us that they reached the top of the pass at 5,515 metres. It was marked by a large cairn of rocks festooned with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags. They are in Tibet, where cairns are often found at high-altitude places such as mountain passes or peaks. They are decorated with white silk scarves and prayer flags as a sign of respect or reverence for the sacred place or the spirits of the ancestors. White silk scarves are called khata and they are offered as gifts or greetings to show goodwill or devotion. Prayer flags are called lungta and they are hung to spread blessings or prayers to all living beings.
  •    Therefore, we can infer that a cairn is a pile or stack of stones that is used as a landmark or a memorial. It is decorated with white silk scarves and prayer flags as a sign of respect or reverence for the sacred place or the spirits of the ancestors.

Question (ii)

What does the word "festooned" mean in the context of the extract?

Answer:

Answer as written by the student:

The word "festooned" means adorned or decorated in the context of the extract.

Step-by-step explanation of the answer: 🎀

  •    To answer this question, we need to use our knowledge of vocabulary and synonyms.
  •    Vocabulary tells us that the word "festooned" has more than one meaning depending on how it is used. It can mean adorned or decorated, damaged or destroyed, protected or guarded, or surrounded or enclosed.
  •    Synonyms are words that have similar meanings to other words. For example, big and large are synonyms. We can use synonyms to replace words in a sentence without changing their meaning.
  •   The context of the extract tells us that the cairn was festooned with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags. This means that the cairn was covered or embellished with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags. The white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags were added to the cairn to make it more attractive or meaningful. Therefore, he used the word "festooned" to mean adorned or decorated in this sentence.
  •    We can check if this meaning is correct by replacing "festooned" with a synonym such as "bedecked" or "ornamented". The sentence would still make sense and convey the same idea.

Question (iii)

 How does the extract show that the narrator and his companions are following the local customs and beliefs?

Answer:

Answer as written by the student:

The extract shows that the narrator and his companions are following the local customs and beliefs by describing their actions and words at the cairn.

 Step-by-step explanation of the answer: 🙏

  •   To answer this question, we need to understand how actions and words can reveal character traits and motivations in a story.
  •     Actions are things that someone does or performs. They can reveal character traits such as personality, attitude, or behaviour. They can also reveal motivations such as reasons, goals, or desires. Words are things that someone says or writes. They can reveal character traits such as thoughts, feelings, or opinions. They can also reveal motivations such as intentions, plans, or promises.
  •    The extract shows that the narrator and his companions are following the local customs and beliefs by describing their actions and words at the cairn. For example:
  •    Actions: The extract says that they all took a turn round the cairn, in a clockwise direction as is the tradition. This action implies that they are following the local custom of circumambulating or walking around sacred objects in a clockwise direction. This custom shows respect or reverence for the sacred object and its associated deities or spirits. It also implies that they are following the local belief that circumambulating sacred objects can bring merit or blessings to oneself and others.
  •    Words: The extract says that Tsetan checked the tyres on his vehicle and partially unscrewed the top of the petrol tank, which emitted a loud hiss. He stopped at the petrol tank and said, "Maybe, sir, but no smoking." This word implies that he is following the local custom of avoiding fire or smoke near sacred places. This custom shows respect or reverence for the sacred place and its associated deities or spirits. It also implies that he is following the local belief that fire or smoke can offend or harm the sacred place and its associated deities or spirits.

Question (iv)

How does the author create a sense of humour and relief in the extract?

Answer:

Answer as written by the student:

The author creates a sense of humour and relief in the extract by using words such as "loud hiss", "dangerous", and "laughed".

 Step-by-step explanation of the answer: 😂

  •    To answer this question, we need to analyse how the author uses language and word choice to create a sense of humour and relief in the extract.
  •    Humour is a literary device that shows how something is amusing or funny. It can be used to create a sense of joy or entertainment in the story. Relief is a literary device that shows how something is comforting or reassuring. It can be used to create a sense of calm or satisfaction in the story.
  •    The author creates a sense of humour and relief in the extract by using words such as "loud hiss", "dangerous", and "laughed". For example:
  •    Loud hiss: The author uses this word to describe the sound that came from the petrol tank when Tsetan partially unscrewed the top. This word implies that the sound was sudden or unexpected. It creates a sense of humour by making readers imagine the sound as a funny or surprising noise. It also creates a sense of relief by making readers realize that the sound was harmless or benign.
  •    Dangerous: The author uses this word to describe what the narrator thought about the sound from the petrol tank. This word implies that the narrator was worried or afraid that the sound indicated a problem or a risk. It creates a sense of humour by making readers contrast the narrator's reaction with Tsetan's action. It also creates a sense of relief by making readers understand that the sound was not dangerous or threatening.
  •  Laughed: The author uses this word to describe how Tsetan responded to the narrator's comment about the sound from the petrol tank. This word implies that Tsetan was amused or cheerful about the situation. It creates a sense of humour by making readers share Tsetan's emotion or mood. It also creates a sense of relief by making readers feel that Tsetan was confident or optimistic about their journey.
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Maninder Singh

CA Maninder Singh is a Chartered Accountant for the past 14 years and a teacher from the past 18 years. He teaches Science, Economics, Accounting and English at Teachoo