The Rock and The Sea Questions & Answers

Hi Everyone!! This article will share The Rock and The Sea Questions & Answers.

Written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, this poem is about the power of Nature, its purpose and how we relate to it. The Rock and the Sea are opposing forces of Nature, both unyielding, and yet each has an equally important role to play in maintaining the fine balance in Nature.

In my previous posts, I have shared the questions and answers of The Narayanpur Incident and The Lake Isle of Innisfree so, you can check these posts as well.

The Rock and The Sea Questions & Answers

Word Galaxy

  • Presumptuous – overconfident
  • Thee – old form of ‘you’
  • Beguiling – attractive and interesting but sometimesmysterious or trying to trick you
  • Thou – old form of ‘you’
  • Art – old form of ‘are’
  • Sheen – a soft, smooth, shiny quality
  • Bosom – chest
  • Mayst – old form of ‘may’
  • Wilt – old form of ‘will’
  • Fast – tightly, securely
  • Turrets – small towers on top of a wall or building, especially a castle
  • Sift – put (a fine or loose substance) through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles
  • Bloweth – old form of ‘blows’

Question 1: Read the lines and answer the questions:

1. I AM the Rock, presumptuous Sea!
I am set to encounter thee.

(a) Why do you think the Rock needs to assert its power over the Sea?

Answer: The Rock asserts its power over the Sea because it feels that despite its small size compared to the Sea, it is strong enough to hold its own against the Sea.

(b) Why does the Rock call the Sea ‘presumptuous’?

Answer: The Rock calls the Sea ‘presumptuous’ because it feels that the Sea thinks the Rock is insignificant and powerless compared to it.

(c) What does ‘encounter thee’ mean? Does ‘encounter’ mean something more than just ‘meet’ here?

Answer: ‘Encounter thee’ means ‘to face you’. Here, ‘encounter’ does not mean ‘to meet’. It is as if the Rock is there to check the Sea, to challenge its power.

Question 2: Read the lines and answer the questions:

Thou mayst pat my cheek with baby hands,
And lap my feet in diamond sands

(a) What do the actions of the Sea suggest it is doing?

Answer: The actions like patting and lapping seems like the Sea is being affectionate to the Rock and caressing it lovingly, like one does to a child.

(b) How has the Rock characterised the Sea? Which word from this stanza makes it absolutely clear?

Answer: The Rock has made the Sea seem deceptive, someone who is misleading and not trustworthy. The Sea appears beautiful and behaves innocently, playing like a child, but the Rock stays unmoved and resolute.

(c) How has the tone of the Rock changed from the first stanza to the second?

Answer: In the first stanza, the Rock seems to be asserting its own power over the Sea’s. It mentions the extremes of the Sea’s nature, from gentle to angry. But nothing can move the Rock. The tone of the Rock is harsh and critical.

In the second stanza, the Rock goes further to describe the sea as treacherous. Although the Sea may look harmless and inviting, it is dangerous and cannot be trusted. Here, the Rock is not asserting itself so much as describing the Sea’s misleading nature. But, there is a kind of grudging appreciation in its description. It describes the Sea as ‘fair’ and ‘with golden glitter and silver sheen’, and it compares the Sea’s movements as children playing, which has a certain amount of innocence and beauty in it, despite being superficial appearance.

The Rock and The Sea Questions & Answers

Question 3: Read the lines and answer the questions:

As one holds an apple in his hand.
Hold it fast with sleepless eyes

(a) Why do you think the Sea is described as holding the land like one holds an apple in one’s hand?

Answer: The Sea is described as holding the land as one holds an apple in his hand. It is as if the sea holds the land firmly in its hand. This imagery relates to how the sea surrounds the land on Earth. The Sea says it in a way that shows that it takes great care of the land.

(b) Why have the eyes been described as ‘sleepless’?

Answer: The eyes have been described as ‘sleepless’ to denote that the Sea takes continuous care of the land, much like a mother cares for a child day and night.

(c) What kind of relationship do you think the land and the sea share?

Answer: The land and the sea serve as a system of check and balance. Both of these are powerful forces of Nature, and each is responsible for shaping the living conditions on Earth. But they both check each other’s movements and maintain balance and equilibrium on Earth.

Question 4: Look at the poem as a conversation between the Rock and the Sea. Is the Sea sending a message to the Rock? What is the Sea trying to prove to the Rock? Support your answer with phrases or sentences from the poem.

Answer: The Sea seems to be telling the Rock that it is a timeless entity compared to the Rock whose existence is fleeting compared to the Sea’s.

“Out of my bosom the mountains grow,
Back to its depths they crumble slow”

The Sea means to say that the land is born out of it and also dies in its depths. So, the Sea is more ancient than the land.

The earth I sway;
Granite to me is potter’s clay;
Under the touch of my careless waves
It rises in turrets and sinks in caves;
The iron cliffs that edge the land
I grind to pebbles and sift to sand,

These lines clearly establish how the Sea is more powerful than the Rock. Even the “careless” movement of the Sea brings about great changes in the land. Instead of asserting her powers like the Rock did, the Sea makes statements that sound calm but hint at a greater power than that of the Rock.

Question 5: What does the last stanza of the poem tell us about change in Nature?

Answer: The last stanza describes the constant change in Nature. The Earth is constantly reshaping itself – the sea proceeds and recedes just as the land. The last stanza is testimony that nothing is permanent or constant in Nature.

Question 6: Note how each stanza of the poem begins with ‘I am…’ If the stanzas began differently, would it change the effect the poem has on you?

Answer: The way the stanzas begin with “I am…” makes the speaker appear very confident. This style makes the speakers very comfortable with their identity and self-awareness. Had the stanzas begun differently, this position of confidence and awareness would have been lost.

So, these were The Rock and The Sea Questions & Answers.

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