NCERT Solutions for Class 11th: Ch 8 The Tale of Melon City Snapshots English

By Vikram Seth

Page No: 76

Reading with Insight

1. Narrate 'The Tale of Melon City' in your own words.


‘The Tale of Melon City’ runs like a folk tale. The city is called Melon City because its ruler is a melon. There is a curious tale about it. Once a fair and easygoing king ruled over a state. He got an arch built across the thoroughfare. As he passed under the low arch it struck his head and he lost his crown. He thought it a disgrace and ordered the chief of builders to be hanged. The chief lay the blame on the workmen. The workmen were surprised. They said that the bricks were made of wrong size. So the masons were thought guilty. The masons shifted the blame on the architect. The architect put the blame at the king’s door as he amended his original plan. The king sought a wise man’s counsel. He held the arch guilty and ordered it to be hanged. A councillor objected to it as it had touched the king’s head. The people became restless. They wanted to see someone hanging. Only the king’s head could fit the noose. So he was hanged. It was now announced that the next man who passed. The city gate would choose the king. An idiot happened to pass the City Gate. He suggested ‘A Melon’. The ministers crowned a melon and placed their Melon King reverently at the throne.

2. What impression would you form of a state where the King was 'just and placid'?


A state where the king was Just and placid enjoyed peace, liberty and justice. The king was titular and symbolic. The citizens enjoyed freedom of all kinds. The real governance of the country was in the hands of the citizens. In the poem 'The Tale of a Melon City' the king had to be hanged as the citizens ultimately wanted someone to be hung. The king could not defend himself. Even though the wisest man gave the verdict that the arch was the real culprit but the citizens wanted someone to be hanged. Ultimately, the king was hanged. This shows that in such a state where the king was just and placid the citizens influenced the fate of a king.

3. How, according to you, can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?


(Answers vary with person own opinion.) Peace and liberty can be maintained in a state by good governance. Whatever is well administered  is most fruitful for the citizens as well as rulers. There should be a happy balance between state interference and citizens rights. Narrow consideration based on religion, region caste etc. should be discouraged becuase these are potent threat to internal security. Only then one can expect peace and liberty to be maintained in a state.

4. Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony.


The poem is full of humour and irony. The decision of the king to hang the chief of the builders for constructing a low arch when his crown struck against it evokes laughter among the readers. It is an example of humour. The way the king got convinced that actually the labourers who constructed the arch were responsible is also humourous. The king wanted to hang the labourers but the labourers were able to defend themselves. This situation is humorous as it evokes laughter among the readers and ironic as the readers find that the labourers are able to shift the responsibility to the architect. Ironically, the architect is able to shift the responsibility to the king himself. The selection of the wisest man who would give the verdict as to who was the real culprit evokes laughter and is, therefore, humorous. The old man ultimately blamed the arch and declared that the arch must be hanged. Ironically, one of the ministers pointed out that the gathering wanted a man to be hanged. As the noose fitted the king's neck, so, he was hanged.'
The choice of a successor is humorous as an idiot is consulted in selecting the successor. The idiot chose a melon who became the symbolic head of the state.

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