summary of the poem "An Elementary school classroom in a slum"

In this poem, the poet showcases the plight of the children studying in a slum school and the necessity to bring about a change in their lives.

The poem begins with a dreary sketch of the children sitting in the class. There is a tall girl sitting in the class whose head is bent down due to illness and exhaustion. The poet observes a skinny boy, thin like paper, whose eyes seem scared and hungry like that of a rats. Another boy with deformed body appears to have inherited his disease from his father is sitting at his desk. On the last bench, a sweet-looking yet unnoticeable boy is seated. He watches a squirrel playing in its tree house and, therefore, appears disinterested in the class.

The second stanza describes the classroom. The off-white and foul smelling walls of the class indicate the donations given to the school. Besides, there are pictures of Shakespeare, of a cloudless daybreak, of civilised cities having buildings with domes, of valleys and of a big world map on the wall. However, none of these are of any help to these children living in slums. Their world comprises of only what they are able to see from the window of their classroom. The view is full of despair where their future seems blurred. They are confined to the narrow streets of the slum that is far away from the open sky and rivers.

The third stanza talks of the impact of the pictures on the children. According to the poem, Shakespeare and the world map present a bad example to these children. The beauty, vastness, and radiance of such things will only tempt them. Having no means to attain these, they will, gradually, be led to the world of crime. They spend their whole life confined in their cramped holes like rodents. The undernourished bodies of these children look like skeletons, comprising of only bones. Their steel-framed spectacles with repaired glasses make them appear like the broken pieces of a bottle scattered on stones. Since their whole life revolves around slums, the map to future also seems blotted.

In the last stanza, the poet makes an appeal to the governor, inspector and visitor. He says that unless the world map becomes a window, for these kids, to explore the outside world and the windows that shut them up from the rest of the world are broken, their future will remain the same as their present. The poet pleads to help these children break free from their world, confined in the slums. He asks to show the children the green fields and to give them freedom to make their own world with proper education and guidance. He believes that history is created where sun or hope is the language. Similarly, these children need proper education and freedom from their present boundaries to create their own bright future.

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Stanza 1

The poet says that the condition of the children in a slum school is pathetic. Their world is far removed from the open, healthy environment. They are as unwanted as the rootless weeds. Their hair is unkempt and they have pale faces which clearly indicate their deprived and under-nourished condition. These children, as the tall girl, are stressed by the burden of their circumstances. They are exhausted both physically as well as emotionally. The paper thin boy is skinny. His eyes have a scared look. These unfortunate beings have inherited only disease and bad luck from their parents. One of diseased ones cant even get up from the desk to recite his lesson. However, there is one child at the back of the class who is younger than the others. His inexperienced eyes are full of hope and he is dreaming about playing games in the open. Apparently gloom has still not enveloped him.

Stanza 2

The classroom walls have a dirty appearance as they havent been painted for a long time. In other words, these children inhabit a world which is dreary and depressing. On the walls are displayed the names of people who have given donations. The bust of Shakespeare with the background of a clear sky at the time of sun-rise is also displayed. The walls also have scenic pictures of Tyrolese Valley with its beautiful flowers presenting a world of the heavenly splendor. Apart from all this, the walls also have a map revealing the world which they view from the classrooms windows which is foggy and harsh. It represents a dark and bleak future with no hope for amelioration. Their eyes can only view a narrow road which is enclosed with a dull sky. The poet suggests that these children are trapped in a hopeless situation and their reality is far removed from the literary world which glistens with the beauty of nature such as the rivers and the high land jutting from the sea.

Stanza 3

The pensive poet suddenly turns belligerent(aggressive) and feels that Shakespeare is wicked. This is because he misleads the children. He shows them a beautiful world of ships, sun and love which is not only unreal for them but it has a corrupting influence on these children and instigates them to steal and try to escape from their cramped holes. Their existence is indeed, very sad. These emaciated children are so thin that it appears that they are wearing skins. The spectacles they are wearing have glass which has been broken and mended. Their entire appearance reeks of their deprivation. The poet shows his outrage by suggesting that the maps on their walls should show huge slums instead of beautiful scenic graphics.

Stanza 4
  • In a conciliatory tone the poet appeals to the governor, inspector and visitor to do something to improve their condition. If there is political will this map showing the beautiful world outside can become their reality too. The poet hopes the authorities would realize their moral responsibilities and free these children from their grave-like entrapments. He wants all the barriers to be pulled down; barriers that keep away true education from them. The children must be given freedom to experience the wholesome bounties of nature-view the green fields and run on gold sand. Let them read books and let them breathe in fresh air. Let them discover themselves and let them be creative so that their names can also enter the books of history. Let them find their place in the sun.
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Correction**   The sweet looking boy who is sitting on the last bench is a symbol of hope because unlike others he is still imagining, he is still dreaming, which other children f slum have stopped doing because they have accepted that their world is limited to the slum only. The young boy however is thinking about squirrels game and tree house.
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I don't know
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quite helpful!!!!!!
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Poem 2 flamingo
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good one can be better
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Main points of the poem the elementary school classroom in a slum
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the story elementry school about those student who were sit in slum dirty school and for thst children the whole world is in classroom ....
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every line can have two meanings eg. 1.gusty waves might mean energy absent in children OR it might mean urbanisation taking place done by poor people but then they restricted to enter big malls, buildings hence far away from velvety world outside. 2.Catacombs might mean end of their miserable life in slum i.e. what poet wants or it can be that slums are present like graveyards under the earth hence there presence is not seen by privildged people or politician. That's why dont like english every line has different explanation
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The poet describes the children who study in an elementary school which is setup in a slum area. The poet says that the faces of children are dull and without any energy. They are not full of energy like other kids of their age. These children are compared to unwanted weed. Here the writer wants to say that these children seem to be unwanted like the unwanted weeds which grow on their own in the fields. Their hair is not neatly done. It falls on their pale faces as if they have been torn apart. The children are untidy, they haven’t combed their hair. Then he describes a tall girl who seems to be burdened by poverty. Her head is bent maybe because of tiredness or shame. There is another boy who is so weak and thin that he has been compared to a sheet of paper. The boy’s eyes reflect greed and he wants to achieve everything. Then he describes another student who is physically disabled. The poet says that this boy is unlucky because he inherited a disease from his father due to which he has a deformed body. Instead of getting any facility from his father, he has received a disease in heritage. This disabled boy is sitting on his bench and is reciting his lesson. At the back of the class, in dim, dark area, was a small boy who was not visible to the poet as he was sitting in darkness. The poet could see his eyes which were bright and full of a dream. He was not paying attention to the class. It seemed as if he was rather interested in playing with squirrels in the tree house.


The poet describes the walls of the school. They are cream in colour like the color of sour cream. This means that the walls are not clean, they have not been painted recently. The walls are covered with different charts and images that must have been donated by different people. There is a picture of Shakespeare on the wall. His head which is bald looks like the rising sun at the horizon. At the time of daybreak, the Sun is rising at the horizon and is semi circular like a dome shape. It seems to be behind all the cities. There is a picture of the famous Tyrolese valley which has beautiful flowers. There is the image of a map which helps all in its own way. But for these children the map of the world is irrelevant because the slum where they live is different from what is shown in the map. Their world is only what they see out of the window of the classroom - the slum. Their future is full of darkness. Their future is compared to a narrow street which means that there is no wide scope available for their future growth. These children are far away from the radiant light of knowledge and education.


The poet further says that these children living in the slum area have faced so many hardships that they feel every other person to be their enemy. For them Shakespeare is an evil man. They don’t find the map to be a good thing. They were never liked or loved by anyone. Therefore they hate almost everyone. Their desire of being loved by others forces them to steal. They live in small homes and they have started adjusting to it. Their life is going towards an endless night. This means that their future is full of darkness. These kids are so thin that one can easily see their bones through the thin layer of skin. Their skin is like the thin layer of cloth and the bones beneath are visible through the skin. These kids suffer from malnutrition. They wear spectacles which are made of steel. They are cheap and very uncomfortable. Even the lenses in the spectacles are repaired. The spectacles look like stones which have been repaired with pieces of glass sticking out of them. Here the poet tries to explain that these kids have to face so many hardships in their lives. As these slums are getting bigger, they will destroy the future of these children and it is very difficult for such kids to escape from them.


The poet says that the government should take notice of the problems being faced by these kids. He urges them to change the life of these kids and make the world map a reality for them. There is a need to break the restrictions which are put on them due to poverty and lack of resources. He wants the governor and public to help these kids in achieving their dreams. As this will take them away from fog to azure sky, the poet here wants to say that in this way the kids can be taken away from the darkness of their present to a bright future. He wants these kids to experience the sands and the beauty of nature as this will led to a desire of gaining knowledge. They will then go through the white and green leaves. Here white leaves depict books and green leaves depict nature. This will then result in their progress and they will be able to paint a bright future for themselves.

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