The Portrait of a Lady Lesson Summary, Notes & Explanation PSEB Class 11th

A Gorgeous Lady

The narrator talked about his grandmother, who was old and wrinkled. She was once gorgeous and charming, but the narrator disbelieved every word of it.

Narrator’s grandfather, who was now dead, was an older man with a turban and white beard. His portrait hung above the mantle shelf. His grandmother told him about the games she used to play as a child and told him the prophets’ stories. She was short, bent, and wrinkled. 

The narrator thought that she could never have been pretty, but at the same time, her persona appeared beautiful to her. The way his grandmother walked and held a rosary in her other hand while simultaneously uttered inaudible prayers made her appear like a mountainous landscape.

Narrator’s parents lived in the city while he lived with her grandmother. She used to wake him up every morning and dress him for school. On their way to school, she used to give all the stale chapatis to the street dogs. Narrator’s school was attached to a temple, so while the narrator was at school, her grandmother would read the scriptures, and together, they would come home. 

Science is Supreme

As his parents became financially stable, they shifted the narrator to another school. This event proved to be a turning point in his friendship with his grandmother. He saw less and less of her.

Now he went to school in a motor-bus. There were no dogs whatsoever. When he returned from school, his grandmother asked him what he had learned in school every day. The narrator told him about the law of gravity, and Archimedes Principle, and other scientific facts.

She disbelieved everything that the narrator told her. She was very worried as nobody taught anything about God in that school. She never talked to the narrator when he told her that he was learning music in that school.

Immortal Grandma

While the narrator joined the university, his grandmother remained secluded for the rest of her life. She sat by the spinning wheel all day and rested for a while to feed the sparrows. They formed a circle around her, and some even sat on her head. These were the most delightful hours of the day for her.

When the narrator went to a foreign institution to pursue education, his grandmother showed no remorse but gently kissed him on his forehead. The narrator took the moist (from the kiss) as the last physical contact between him and his grandmother. After five years, he returned home, but to his grandmother, the most delightful task was to feed the sparrows. She did not look any older.

The Friendly Sparrows

She changed her routine from reading scriptures to singing. The narrator and his family persuaded her to stop stressing herself, but she refused. One day she fell ill, it was normal fever as the doctor told them that she would be in good health shortly, but she thought it was the end of her life.

While uttering inaudible prayers, she died peacefully. Her corpse was placed in the same verandah where she used to feed the sparrows. All the sparrows surrounded her. There was no chirping of birds as they all were silent.

The narrator’s mother made small slices of bread to feed the sparrows, but they took no notice of them. As the family proceeded with the procession, the birds flew away quietly. The sweeper cleaned the floor and swept the bread crumbs.