“We’re Not Afraid to Die… if We Can An Be Together” – English – (NCERT Solutions for Class 11)




  1. List the steps taken by the captain
    (i) to protect the ship when rough weather began
    (ii) to check the flooding of the water in the ship

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    Ans. (i) In order to protect the ship from rough weather, the captain decided to slow it down. So he dropped the storm jib and lashed heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stern. Then they double fastened everything and went through their life-raft drill.
    (ii) Larry and Herb started pumping out water. The captain stretched canvas and secured water proof hatch covers across the gaping holes. When the two hand pumps blocked and electric pump short circuited, he found another electric pump, connected it to an outpipe and started it.
  2. Describe the mental condition of the voyages on 4th and 5th January.

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    Ans. On January 4, the voyagers felt relieved after 36 hours of continuous pumping out water. They had their first meal in almost two days. Their respite was short-lived. They faced dangerous situation on January 5. Fear of death loomed large. They were under great mental stress.
  3. Describe the shifts in the narration of the events as indicated in the three sections of the text. Give a subtitle to each section.

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    Ans. The first section describes a peaceful journey from Plymouth (England) to 3500 km east of Cape Town (Africa). The narrator is relaxed and full of confidence. As the weather deteriorated, they faced gigantic waves. They took precautions to save themselves and struggle with the disaster. The narration becomes grim. But it exudes the fighting spirit, confidence and strong will power. By the morning of January 6, Wavewalker rode out the storm and by evening they sighted Ile Amsterdam island. The narrator is now relaxed. Joy, relief and complete confidence are apparent.
    The subtitle to each section is—Section 1 – Cheerful Journey, Section 2-Facing the Wave, Section 3-Searching the Island.

Discuss the following questions with your partner.

  1. What difference did you notice between the reaction of the adults and the children when faced with danger?

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    Ans. There is a lot of difference between the way in which the adults and the children reacted when faced with danger. The adults felt the stress of the circumstances but prepared themselves to face the dangers. They took sufficient precautions to protect the ship when the rough weather began. They equipped everyone with lifelines, water proof clothes, and life jackets. Larry and Herb worked cheerfully and optimistically for three days continuously to pump out water from the ship. Mary replaced the narrator at the wheel when the deck was smashed, and steered the ship. She also served them meal after two days of struggle against odds. The narrator performed his role as captain with courage, determination, resourcefulness and full responsibility. He undertook repair work and provided apparatus and directions needed to protect the ship. He also helped in steering the ship towards the island. The children suffered silently and patiently. Sue did not want to bother her father with her troubles. Jon acted courageously. He was not afraid to die if all of them perished together.
  2. How does the story suggest the optimism helps to “endure the direst stress”?

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    Ans. The story suggests that optimism certainly helps to endure the direst stress. The behaviour of the four adults during crisis bears it out. Larry Vigil and Herb Seigler were two crewmen. As the mighty waves smashed the deck, water entered the ship through many holes and openings. Right from the evening of January 2, Larry and Herb started pumping out water. They worked continuously, excitedly and feverishly for 36 hours. It was a result of their continuous pumping that they reached the last few centimetres of water on January 4. They remained cheerful and optimistic while facing extremely dangerous situations. The narrator did not lose his courage, hope or presence of mind while facing problems. He did not worry about the loss of equipment. He used whatever was available there. His self-confidence and practical knowledge helped them to steer out of storm and reach the Ile Amsterdam island. Mary stayed at the wheel for all those crucial hours. She did not lose hope or courage either.
  3. What lessons do we learn from such hazardous experiences when we are face to face with death?

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    Ans. Hazardous experiences may bring us face to face with death, but they impart us many important lessons of conduct. Life is not always a bed of roses. We must react to dangers and risks with patience and fortitude. Adversity is the true test of character. The purity of gold is judged by putting it in fire. The hazardous experiences bring out the best in us. Coward persons die many times before their death. Fear is a negative feeling and leads to inactivity and abject surrender to circumstances. Such sailors or soldiers lose the battle against the odds in life. On the other hand, persons with self-confidence, courage, resourcefulness and presence of mind face all the dangers boldly and overcome all disasters.
    Their sharing and caring attitude inspires others also to face
    the adverse circumstances boldly and tide over them.
  4. Why do you think people undertake such adventurous expeditions in spite of the risks involved?

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    Ans. Man is adventurous by nature. The greater the risk, the more the thrill. The thrill of exploring unknown lands, discovering wealth and beauty lying hidden in far off lands inspires brave hearts to stake their life of rest and repose. Perhaps they value one crowded hour of glory more than a long uneventful life of sloth and inactivity. It is true that sometimes adventures are quite risky and prove fatal. The failures of some persons do not daunt (discourage) the real lovers of adventure. They draw lessons from the shortcomings and errors of others and make fresh attempts with greater zeal. Part of the charm of an adventurous expedition lies in adapting oneself to the circumstances and overcoming the odds. The success of an adventurous expedition brings name, fame and wealth. History books are replete with accounts of famous explorers like Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Captain Cook and Captain Scott.

Talk to your partner about the following:

  1. We have come across words like ‘gale’ and ‘storm’ in the account. Here are some more words for storms: typhoon, cyclone. How many words does your language have for storms?

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    Ans. Our language has following words for storms: a andhi, toofan, Jhanjavat, Chakrauat
  2. Here are the names of different kinds of vessels that are used to travel on water: yacht, boat, canoe, ship, steamer, schooner. Think of similar words in your language.

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    Ans. Similar words for vessels that are used to travel on water are:
    Nauka, Nava, Pot, Jahaj
  3. ‘Catamaran’ is a kind of boat. Do you know which Indian language this word is derived from? Check the dictionary.

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    Ans. The word ‘catamaran’ is derived from Tamil, where it means `tied wood’. ‘Catamaran’ is a yacht or other boat with twin hulls in parallel. The dictionary defines it as ‘a fast sailing boat with two hulls’.
  4. Have you heard any boatmen’s songs. What kind of emotions do these songs usually express?

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    Ans. Yes. These songs call upon other sailors to awake, arise and set out to the sea to explore its rich wealth. These songs are full of inspiration and provide moral support to the sad and disappointed boatmen.


  1. The following words used in the text as ship terminology are also commonly used in another sense. In what context would you use the other meaning?
    knot      stern     boom      hatch      anchor

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    Ans. 1. Knot: (a) In string/rope: a joint made by tying
    together two pieces or ends of string, rope etc. e.g. to tie a knot.
    (b) Of hair: a way of twisting hair into a small round shape at the back of the head: e.g. She had her hair in a loose knot.
    (c) In wood: a hard round spot in a piece of wood where there was once a branch.
    (d) Group of people: a small group of people standing close together e.g. Little knots of students had gathered at the gate.
    (e) Of muscles: a tight, hard feeling in the stomach, throat etc. caused by nerves, anger, etc. e.g. I could feel a knot of fear in my throat.

    2. Stern: (a) serious and often disapproving; expecting somebody to obey you: e.g. His voice was stern.
    (b) serious and difficult: e.g. we faced stern opposition.

    3. Boom: (a) In Business/Economy: a sudden increase in trade and economic activity, a period of wealth and success, e.g. a boom in mobile phone sales.
    (b) Popular period, a period when something such as a sport or a type of music suddenly becomes very popular and successful, e.g. The only way to satisfy the cricket boom was to provide more playgrounds.
    (c) Sound, a loud deep sound, e.g. the distant boom of the guns.
    (d) In river/harbour, a floating barrier that is placed across a river or the entrance to a harbour to prevent ships or other objects from coming in or going out.
    (e) For Microphone, a long pole that carries a microphone.

    4. Hatch: (a) an opening in a wall between two rooms, especially a kitchen and a dining room, through which food can be passed, e.g. a serving hatch.
    (b) a door in an aircraft or a spacecraft, e.g. an escape hatch
    (c) an opening or a door in a floor or ceiling, e.g. a hatch to the attic.
    (d) to make a young bird, fish, insect, etc. come out of an egg.
    (e) to create a plan or idea, especially in secret.

    5. Anchor: (a) a person or thing that gives somebody a feeling of safety, e.g. the anchor of the family
    (b) to fix something firmly in position so that it cannot move, e.g. Make sure the apparatus is securely anchored.
    (c) to firmly base something on something else, e.g. Munshi Prem Chand’s novels are anchored in rural life.
    (d) to be the person who introduces reports or reads the news on television or radio, e.g. She anchored the evening news for five years.

  2. The following three compound words end in-ship. What does each of them mean?

    airship     flagship     lightship

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    Ans. (a) Airship : a large aircraft without wings, filled with
    a gas which is lighter than air, and driven by engines.
    (b) Flagship : (i) The main ship in a fleet of ships in the navy.
    (ii) The most important product, service, building, etc. that an organization owns or produces, e.g. The company is opening a new flagship store in Gurgaon.
    (c) Lightship: a small ship that stays at a particular
    place at sea and that has a powerful light on it to warn and guide other ships.
  3. The following are the meanings listed in the dictionary against the phrase ‘take on’. Locate the meaning in which it is used in the third paragraph of the account:
    take on sth: to begin to have a particular quality or
    appearance, to assume sth.
    take sb on: to employ sb; to engage sb.
    to accept sb as one’s opponent in a game, contest or conflict.
    take sb/sth on: to decide to do sth to allow to enter
    (e.g. a bus, plane or ship); to take sth/sb on board.

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    Ans. In the third paragraph of the account, ‘take on’ is used in the sense of ‘take sb on’ i.e. ‘to employ sb’; ‘to engage sb’. The words are: ‘We took on two crewmen …………… to help
    us ………………….


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