Snapshot Notes (Class 11)

CBSE Class 11 English Snapshot Chapter 2 The Address

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The Address – Marga Minco


The Address

The Address – Marga Minco

 
 
Summary
 
This chapter centres around a daughter who goes in search of her mother’s belongings after the war, in Holland. She finds all the objects which evoke memories of her earlier life. However, she decides to leave them all behind and resolves to move on.
The chapter begins when Mrs. S’s daughter visits Mrs. Dorling’s house after the liberation war in Holland. She remembers the address, therefore reaches there and meets a woman (Mrs. Dorling) whom she knows very well.
To her surprise, Mrs. Dorling who was a frequent visitor to their home before the war refuses to recognize her. The narrator introduces herself again and again but all in vain. Mrs. Dorling is wearing a green knotted cardigan which once used to be owned by Mrs. S, her mother. The narrator wants to talk to Mrs. Dorling but later turns a blind eye and shuts the door on her face.
Narrator once again confirms the address by looking at the name-plate again which suggests Mrs. Dorling in black letters on white enamel and a house number i.e 46.
Having been dejected by Mrs. Dorling, the narrator walks slowly to the station. While walking down, she recalls the moments spent with her mother and the time when things had started disappearing from her room as well as home. When enquired, her mother told the narrator about Mrs. Dorling who was an old acquaintance my mother, whom she had not seen for years. But, suddenly she had turned up and renewed her contact with her mother.
Narrator’s mother also adds that every time she leaves there, she takes something home with her. According to her mother, Mrs. Dorling had taken everything starting from antique plates to the crockery used at their home. In short, she would insist to give all those things in order to save them from the war. According to her mother, she would carry a full suitcase or a bag stuffed with household things. Her mother wanted the narrator to remember the ‘Number 46, Marconi Street’ i.e address of Mrs. Dorling.
The narrator, once again, decides to go to Mrs. Dorling home. This time, a girl of about fifteen opens the door. Narrator enquires if her mother was at home. She denies saying that she has been to market to run an errand.
Narrator enters her house and sees an old-fashioned Hanukkah candle holder, wooden table cloth, tea-pot, spoons and many other things which once belonged to her mother. She even feels the burn mark which is still there on the table cloth.
But soon she realises that she has to catch her train. She leaves the house and decides never to come back again and to forget the address of Mrs. Dorling’s home.
 
Important Questions
Q. ‘Have you come back?’ said the woman, ‘I thought that no one had come back.’ Does this statement give some clue about the story? If yes, what is it?
A. Yes, this statement gives some clue about the story. During the early part of the war, Mrs. Dorling had shifted the important belongings of her acquaintance Mrs. S. from her house to 46, Marconi Street. These included table silver wares, antique plates and other nice things such as the iron Hanukkah candle-holder, woollen tablecloth and green knitted cardigan with wooden buttons. Since Mrs. S. had died during the war, Mrs. Dorling did not expect anyone to come back and claim her costly belongings as she thought no one else knew her address.

The statement indicates the greedy and possessive nature of Mrs. Dorling. She did not open the door to the daughter of her former acquaintance nor did she show any signs of recognition. She did not let the girl in. She refused to see her then saying it was not convenient for her to do. The narrator had gone to this address with a specific purpose—to see her mother’s belongings.
Even when she told Mrs. Dorling that only she had come back, the woman with a broad back did not soften a bit. Thus the clash of interests is hinted at by the aforesaid statement.

 
 
Q. The story is divided into pre-war and post-war times. What hardships do you think the girl underwent during these times?
 
A. During the pre-war times, the narrator lived in some other city far away from home and she visited her mother only for a few days. During the first half of the war, the narrator’s mother was always afraid that they might have to leave the place and lose all valuable belongings. The narrator lived in the city in a small rented room. Its windows were covered with blackout paper. She could not see the beauty of nature outside her room. The threat of death loomed largely.

After the liberation, everything became normal again. Bread was getting to be a lighter colour. She could sleep in her bed without any fear of death. She could glance out of the window of her room each day. One day, she was eager to see all the possessions of her mother, which she knew were stored at number 46, Marconi Street. She went to that address. She felt disappointed when Mrs. Dorling neither recognized her nor let her in. She asked her to come again someday. It was evident she wanted to put her off. She was eager to see, touch and remember her mother’s possessions. So, she had to take the trouble of visiting the place again.

 
 
Q. Why did the narrator of the story want to forget the address?
 
A. The narrator remembered the address her mother had told her only once. It was number 46, Marconi Street. Her mother’s acquaintance Mrs. Dorling lived there. She had stored the valuable belongings of the narrator’s mother there. After her mother’s death, the narrator had an urge to visit the place. She wanted to see those things, touch them and remember. She went to the given address twice. She was successful in her second attempt to enter the living room.

She found herself in the midst of things she wanted to see again. She felt oppressed in the strange atmosphere. Everything was arranged in a tasteless way. The ugly furniture and the muggy smell that hung there seemed quite unpleasant. These objects evoked the memory of the familiar life of the former time. But they had lost their value since they had been separated from her mother and stored in strange surroundings. She no longer wanted to see, touch or remember these belongings. She resolved to forget the address. She wanted to leave the past behind and decided to move on.

 

 
Q. How did the narrator come to know about Mrs. Dorling and the address where she lived?
 
A. Years ago, during the first half of the war, the narrator went home for a few days to see her mother. After staying there a couple of days she noticed that something or other about the rooms had changed. She missed various things. Then her mother told her about Mrs. Dorling. She was an old acquaintance of her mother. She had suddenly turned up after many years. Now she came regularly and took something home with her every time she came. She suggested that she could save her precious belongings by storing them at her place. Mother told her address, Number 46, Marconi Street. The narrator asked her mother if she had agreed with her that she should keep everything. Her mother did not like that. She thought it would be an insult to do so. She was worried about the risk Mrs. Dorling faced carrying a full suitcase or bag.
 
 
Q. Give a brief account of the narrator’s first visit to 46, Marconi Street. What impression do you form of Mrs. Dorling from it?
 
A. In the post-war period, when things returned to normal, the narrator became curious about her mother’s possessions that were stored at Mrs. Dorling’s house. Since she wanted to see them, she took the train and went to 46, Marconi Street. Mrs. Dorling opened the door a chink. The narrator came closer, stood on the step and asked her if she still knew her. Mrs. Dorling told her that she didn’t know her. The narrator told her that she was the daughter of Mrs. S. Mrs. Dorling kept staring at her in silence and gave no sign of recognition. She held her hand on the door as if she wanted to prevent it from opening any further. The narrator recognized the green knitted cardigan of her mother that Mrs. Dorling was wearing. Mrs. Dorling noticed it and half hid behind the door. The narrator again asked if she knew her mother. Mrs. Dorling asked with surprise if she had come back. She declined to see the narrator or help her.
 
 
Q. In what respect was the second visit of the narrator to 46, Marconi Street different from the first one? Did she really succeed in her mission? Give a reason for your answer.
 
A. The second visit of the narrator to 46, Marconi Street, was different from the first one in one respect. Dining the first visit, the narrator could not get admittance in the house, whereas during the second one, she was led to the living room, where she could see and touch some of the things she had wanted so eagerly to see. She had visited this place with a specific purpose—to see her mother’s belongings. The touch and sight of familiar things aroused memory of her former life. These objects had now lost their real value for her since they were severed from their own lives and stored in strange circumstances. Thus her mission to see, touch and remember her mother’s belongings was partly successful. She resolved to forget these objects, and their past and move on. This is clear from her decision to forget the address.
 
 
Q. What impression do you form of the narrator?
 
A. The narrator leaves a very favourable impression on us about her emotional and intellectual qualities. We find her an intelligent but devoted daughter. She loves and respects her mother, but does not approve of her soft behaviour towards her acquaintance, Mrs. Dorling. She puts a pointed question, which her mother thinks impolite.

The narrator has a keen power of observation. She notices during her brief stay at home that various things are missing from the rooms. She has a sharp power of judgment. She once sizes up Mrs. Dorling. Her persistent efforts to remind Mrs. Dorling of her own identity and the latter’s relations with her mother reveal her indomitable spirit. She visits 46, Marconi Street twice to see, touch and remember her mother’s belongings. She is a realist, who doesn’t like to remain tagged to the past. Her resolution to forget the address and move on shows her grit and forward-looking nature. She has a progressive personality.

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