NCERT Solutions for Class 11th: Ch 2 We're Not Afraid to Die...if We Can All Be Together Hornbill English

By Gordon Cook and Alan East

Page No: 13

1. Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context.

honing our seafaring skills
ominous silence
Mayday calls
pinpricks in the vast ocean
a tousled head


honing our seafaring skills: this refers to the efforts made by the author and his wife, to perfect or sharpen their seafaring skills.

ominous silence: the silence here refers to an impending danger.

Mayday calls: Mayday calls are radio-telephonic words which signal aircrafts or ships stuck in a disastrous situation.

pinpricks in the vast ocean: this phrase expresses the search for two small islands in the vast ocean.

a tousled head: this refers to hair in disarray or the disarranged hair of the author’s son, Jonathan

Page No: 18

Understanding the Text

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.


(i) In order to protect the ship from rough weather, the capitan decided to slow it down. So he dropped the storm jjb and lashed heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stern. Then they doubled fatened everything and went through their life-raft drill

(ii) To check the flooding of water in the ship, he put waterproof hatch covers across the gaping holes which diverted the water to the side. When the two hands pump 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 voyagers on 4 and 5 January.


On January 4 and 5, the voyagers felt relieved after rigorous practice of continuous pumping. They had their first meal in almost two days. Their respite was short-lived. They faced dangerous situation on January 5. Fear of deah 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.


The first section: The first section opens on a cheerful note. The narrator and his family are all set for their ultimate dream- to take up an around-the-world voyage like Captain James Cook did. They have perfected their seafaring skills. They begin the voyage and despite of the bad weather, they celebrate Christmas on the ‘Wavewalker’.

The second section: This part of narration covers the hazards faced by the voyagers. There is a shift in the narration from cheerful to intense. They find themselves in an extremely fatal and disastrous situation. A huge wave hits their boat and the narrator is thrown overboard. Despite getting injured, he maintains his composure and applies every possible way to tackle the critical situation. They manage to pump out maximum amount of water out of the boat in about 36 hours. But as they continue to face bad weather conditions the narrator loses hope. The children remain fearless, courageous and optimistic throughout.

The third section: The children provide moral support to the narrator and he continues with his efforts. Under the captaincy of the narrator, they manage to reach Ile Amsterdam. The narrator proves his seamanship and receives the title of “the best daddy” and “the best captain” from his children.

The above three sections can be subtitled as follows:
a) The first section: Round-the-world voyage begins
b) The second section: The attack of the big wave
c) The third section: Ultimate victory

Talking about the Text

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


There was lot of difference between the way in which the adults and children reacted when faced danger. The adults lose hope and wait for their end with a heavy heart. At this point, they are motivated by the children. The children offer moral support to the adults. They display maturity and tolerance. Jonathan expresses his fearlessness and courage when he says that they are not afraid of dying if they all can be together. Sue expresses her love and gratitude for her parents by making a greeting card. She is strong enough to not let her parents know about her serious injuries. She did not want to bother her parents in the times of crisis.

2. How does the story suggest that optimism helps to endure “the direst stress”?


Optimism is a determination to overcome difficulties. It raises one’s spirits and helps one overcome stress and difficulty with ease. The story displays courage and optimism throughout. Survival happens only because of the optimistic struggle that the family carries on with.
The level of perseverance in the author rises when Jonathan says, “we’re not afraid of dying if we can all be together. Besides, the caricatures of him and Mary, drawn by Sue, helps his determination and optimism to grow many folds. The positive outlook of the children infuses positivity in the narrator. He rigorously calculates their position and finally asks Larry to steer a course of 185 degrees. Though he had lost all hope by then, he did not show it and optimistically told Larry that they would spot the island by about 5 P.M. Fortunately, their struggle and optimism pays off and they manage to find Ile Amsterdam by evening.

3. What lessons do we learn from such hazardous experiences when we are face-to-face with death?


Such experiences teach us the potential that courage, perseverance and tolerance hold. It explains how one must react in the direst of the situations. It teaches us that one must never lose hope and try to find reasons to stay positive in the face of adversity. In such situations one must try his/her best to remain calm and composed and understand the power of unity and team work. Moreover, the importance of common sense, putting continuous efforts to overcome the catastrophe and the significance of being extra cautious and careful are learnt from such hazardous experiences.

4. Why do you think people undertake such adventurous expeditions in spite of the risk involved?


The spirit to experience unique elements of nature, undaunted passion and willingness to accept challenges drive people to take up adventurous expeditions. The people who involve themselves in such activities are very well aware of the risk involved in them. But due to their passion and enthusiasm to do something unique and great, they willingly accept such challenges. Also, their desire to be in the lap of nature and experience its beauty pushes them to such expeditions.

Thinking about Language

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


In Hindi, ‘storm’ is known as ‘aandhi’, ‘toofan’ 'andhad', etc.

Page No: 19

2. Here are the terms of different kinds of vessels: yacht, boat, canoe, ship, steamer, schooner. Think of similar terms in your language.


‘Naav’, ‘Nauka’, ‘Jahaaz’ and ‘Kishti’ are some of the various words used in Hindi for the word ‘boat’.

3. ‘Catamaran’ is a kind of a boat. Do you know which Indian language this word is derived from? Check the dictionary.


The word ‘Catamaran’ is derived from Tamil word ‘Kattumaram’.

4. Have you heard any boatmen’s songs? What kind of emotions do these songs usually express?


Yes, Boatmen’s songs usually express love and nostalgia. It revolves around the longing to meet a loved one. It may also express their love for the sea.

Working with Words

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


Knot: a) interlacing, twining, looping, etc.
          b) a group of persons.

Stern: firm, strict, uncompromising, harsh, hard etc.

Boom: a) deep, prolonged, resonant sound
            b) to progress or flourish
            c) to hit hard

Hatch: a) to bring forth, produce.
            b) derive, concoct
            c) to draw, cut, or engrave lines

Anchor: a) a person or thing that can be relied upon for support
              b) host of an event.

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

airship         flagship         lightship


Airship: It is a self-propelled lighter-than-air aircraft with the means of controlling the direction of the flight.

Flagship: It is a ship carrying the flag officer or the commander of a fleet, squadron. It displays the officer’s flag.

Lightship: It refers to a ship anchored in a specific location flashing a very bright light for the guidance of ships, as in avoiding dangerous areas.

3. The following are the meaning listed in the dictionary against the phrase `take on’. In which meaning is it 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 sth/sb to enter e.g. a bus, plane or ship; to take sth/sb on board


In the third paragraph, in lines: “… we took on two crewman to help us tackle … roughest seas…”, the word “took on” suggests to take somebody on i.e., to employ or engage somebody.

Notes of  We are not afraid to die…If we can all be together

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