Chapter 3 – Deep Water Questions and Answers: NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English (Flamingo Prose)

Class 12 English (Flamingo Prose) NCERT book solutions for Chapter 3 - Deep Water Questions and Answers.


Q1. What is the “misadventure ” that William Douglas speaks about?

Ans. William O. Douglas had just learnt swimming. One day, an eighteen year old big bruiser picked him up and tossed him into the nine feet deep end of the Y.M.C.A. pool. He hit the water surface in a sitting position. He swallowed water and went at once to the bottom. He nearly died in this misadventure.

Q2. What were the series of emotions and fears that Douglas experienced when he was thrown into the pool? What plans did he make to come to the surface?

Ans. Douglas was frightened when he was thrown into the pool. However, he was not frightened out of his wits. While sinking down he made a plan. He would make a big jump when his feet hit the bottom. He would come to the surface like a cork, lie flat on it, and paddle to the edge of the pool.

Q3. How did this experience affect him?

Ans. This experience revived his aversion to water. He shook and cried when he lay on his bed. He couldn’t eat that night. For many days, there was a haunting fear in his heart. The slightest exertion upset him, making him wobbly in the knees and sick to his stomach. He never went back to the pool. He feared water and avoided it whenever he could.


Q1. Why was Douglas determined to get over his fear of water?

Ans. His fear of water ruined his fishing trips. It deprived him of the joy of canoeing, boating, and swimming. Douglas used every way he knew to overcome this fear he had developed ’since childhood. Even as an adult, it held him firmly in its grip. He determined to get an instructor and learn swimming to get over this fear of water.

Q2. How did the instructor “build a swimmer” out of Douglas?

Ans. The instructor built a swimmer out of Douglas piece by piece. For three months he held him high on a rope attached to his belt. He went back and forth across the pool. Panic seized the author everytime. The instructor taught Douglas to put his face under water and exhale and to raise his nose and inhale. Then Douglas had to kick with his legs for many weeks till these relaxed. After seven months the instructor told him to swim the length of the pool.

Q3. How did Douglas make sure that he conquered the old terror?

Ans. Douglas still felt terror-stricken when he was alone in the pool. The remnants of the old terror would return, but he would rebuke it and go for another length of the pool. He was still not satisfied. So, he went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire, dived off a dock at Triggs Island and swam two miles across the lake. He had his residual doubts. So, he went to Meade Glacier, dived into Warm Lake and swam across to the other shore and back.Thus, he made sure that he had conquered the old terror.


Q1. How does Douglas make clear to the reader the sense of panic that gripped him as he almost drowned? Describe the details that have made the description vivid.

Ans. Douglas gives a detailed account of his feelings and efforts to save himself from getting drowned. He uses literary devices to make the description graphic and vivid. For example,
‘Those nine feet were more like ninety’, ‘My lungs were ready to burst.’ ‘I came up slowly,
I opened my eyes and saw nothing but water….. I grew panicky1 ‘I was suffocating. I
tried to yell, but no sound came out!’ ‘

Q2. How did Douglas overcome his fear of water?

Ans. When Douglas grew up, he took the help of an instructor to learn swimming. His training went on from October to April. For three months he was taken across the pool with the help of a rope. As he went under, terror filled him and his legs froze. The instructor taught him to exhale under water and inhale through raised nose. He made him kick his legs to make them relax. Then he asked him to swim. He continued swimming from April to July. Still all terror had not left. He swam two miles across Lake Wentworth and the whole length to the shore and back of Warm Lake. Then he overcame his fear of water.

Q3. Why does Douglas as an adult recount a childhood experience of terror and his conquering of it? What larger meaning does he draw from this experience?

Ans. The experience of terror was a handicap Douglas suffered from during his childhood. His conquering of it shows his determination, will power and development of his personality.
He drew a larger meaning from this experience. “In death there is peace.” “There is terror only in the fear of death.” He had experienced both the sensation of dying and the terror that fear of it can produce. So, the will to live somehow grew in intensity. He felt released- free to walk the mountain paths, climb the peaks and brush aside fear.


Q1.“All ice have to fear is fear itself” Have you ever had a fear that you have now overcome? Share your experience with your partner.

Ans. I must have been about eight or nine years old. It was the night of Diwali. All the houses were shining bright with the rows of candles, oil lamps and electric bulbs. Children were bursting crackers. Suddenly, a cracker went up and hit the thatched roof of a poor gardener. Soon the hut was in flames. His only son, a tiny infant had severe burns before he could be rescued. I began to tremble with fear as the police questioned the boys exploding crackers. From then on I had a fear of crackers, fire and police. My parents and I had to work very hard to remove this blemish. It was adversely affecting
my personality. By learning the safeguards against fire and safe handling of crackers, I
gradually overcame my fear. However, I still get panicked at the sight of a policeman in uniform. The fear of police remained now; My uncle came to my rescue. He got me dressed as a police inspector in one of his plays, I commanded many policemen and scolded them for misbehaving with the common people. I learnt that policemen were also, humans and not demons. Police protect and help us to maintain law and order. Thank God, I have overcome all my fears now.

Q2. Find and narrate other stories about conquest of fear and what people have said about courage. For example, you can recall Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom, his perseverance to achieve his mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor as depicted in his autobiography. The story ‘We’re Not Afraid To Die,’ which you have read in Class XI, is an apt example of how courage and optimism helped a family survive under the direst stress.

Ans. In his autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life. He brings vividly to life the escalating political warfare in the fifties between the African National Congress and the government, culminating in his dramatic escapades as an underground leader and the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964, at which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He recounts the surprisingly eventful twenty-seven years in prison and the complex, delicate negotiations that led both to his freedom and to the beginning of the end of apartheid. Mandela also struggled against the exploitation of labour and on the segregation of the universities. He persevered to achieve his mission and to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor. In 1990, he was freed from prison. The apartheid laws were relaxed. Mandela became the champion for human rights and racial equality. He also became the first non-white president of the Republic of South Africa.


Q1. When did Douglas decide to learn swimming? What options were available to him to swim in? Which one did he choose and why?

Ans. Douglas was ten or eleven years old when he decided to learn swimming. He could swim in the Yakima River or the Y.M.C.A. pool at Yakima. The Yakima River was dangerous. Many persons had drowned in it. So, he chose the Y.M.C.A. pool. It was considered safe.

Q2. Which factors led Douglas to decide in favour of the Y.M.C.A. pool?

Ans. The Y.M.C.A. pool was safe. It was only two to three feet deep at the shallow end. It was nine feet deep at the other. Moreover, the drop was gradual. The Yakima River was treacherous and had drowned many. So, he decided in favour of the Y.M.C.A. pool.

Q3. “I had an aversion to the water when I was in it?” says Douglas. When did he start having this aversion and how?

Ans. The aversion started when Douglas was three or four years old. His father had taken him to the beach in California. They were standing together in the surf. He had held his father tightly, even then the waves knocked him down and swept over him. He was buried in water. His breath was gone. He was frightened. There was terror in his heart about the overpowering force of the waves.

Q4. How did Douglas initially feel when he went to the Y.M.C.A. pool? What made him feel comfortable?

Ans. Unpleasant memories of the past were revived and childish fears were stirred. In a little while he gathered confidence. He paddled with his new water wings. He watched the other boys and tried to imitate them. He did so two or three times on different days. He began to feel comfortable.

Q5. What two things did Douglas dislike to do? Which one did he have to do and why?

Ans. Douglas hated to walk naked, into the pool and show his very thin legs. Secondly, he was fearful about going in alone. So, he sat on the side of the pool to wait for others. But he had to go into water as one cannot learn swimming without going into water.

Q6. In what connection does Douglas mention “a big bruiser of a boy ?”

Ans. Douglas mentions him for his misadventure in the Y.M.C.A. swimming pool in which he had nearly died. It was this boxer boy who had picked up Douglas and tossed him into the deep end. Later on, when Douglas was rescued, the boy said, “I was only fooling.”

Q7. Describe the boy who was responsible for the author’s misadventure?

Ans. He was a big boy, a bruiser. He was probably eighteen year old. He had thick hair on his chest. He was a beautiful specimen. His legs and arms had rippling muscles. He was a fun loving fellow and enjoyed teasing the younger and weaker boys.

Q8. How did the “misadventure” happen with Douglas?

Ans. Douglas was sitting alone on the side of the pool, waiting for others. A big, boxer boy of eighteen came there. Mocking him as ‘skinny’ he enquired how he would like to be plunged in water. Saying so, he picked up Douglas and tossed him into the nine feet deep end. Douglas struck the surface of water, swallowed water and at once went to the bottom.

Q9. “I was frightened, but not yet frightened out of my wits,” says Douglas. Which qualities of the speaker are highlighted here and how?

Ans. Douglas was frightened when he went down into the pool and was about to be drowned. He had an aversion to water and now he was filled with terror. He had remarkable self¬control. He used his mind even in the crisis and thought of a strategy to save himself from being drowned.

Q10. “On the way down I planned,” remarks Douglas. What plan had he devised and how far did it succeed?

Ans. While going down to the bottom, he made a plan to save himself from being drowned. He decided to make a big jump as his feet hit the bottom. He hoped to move up to the surface of water like a cork. Then he would lie flat on it, and paddle to the edge of the pool. The plan was only partly successful. He rose to surface twice. But each time he swallowed water and went down.

Q11. What did Douglas experience as he went down to the bottom of the pool for the first time ?

Ans. Going down to the depth of nine feet was not quick. It seemed a long way down. For him those nine feet were more like ninety. Before he touched bottom his lungs were ready to burst. He did not lose his presence of mind. Using all his strength, he made a great jump upwards.

Q12. How was the result of the ‘great spring upwards’ that Douglas made on hitting the bottom of the pool for the first time?

Ans. Douglas rose to the surface very slowly. When he opened his eyes he saw nothing but water with a dirty yellow colour. He grew panicky. He tried to grab a rope but his hands clutched only at water. He was suffocating. He tried to shout, but no sound came out. Then his eyes and nose came out of the water but not his mouth.

Q13. How did Douglas struggle before hitting the bottom of the pool for the second time? What was the outcome of his struggle?

Ans. Douglas moved his arms and legs around without control. He swallowed water and choked. His legs hung as dead weights, paralysed and rigid. A great force was pulling him down. He struck at the water with full force as he went down. He had lost all his breath. His lungs ached and head throbbed. He was getting dizzy. He went down through dark water and was filled with fear.

Q14. What sort of terror seized Douglas as he went down the ‘water with a yellow glow?’ How could he feel he was still alive?

Ans. An absolute, rigid terror seized Douglas. It was a terror that knew no understanding or control and was beyond comprehension of anyone who had not experienced it. He was paralysed under water-stiff and rigid with fear. His screams were frozen. The beating of his heart and throbbing of mind made him feel that he was still alive.

Q15. ‘In the midst of the terror came a touch of reason.’ How did the two forces work in opposite direction and how did Douglas fare?

Ans. Reason told him to jump when he hit the bottom as he felt the tiles under him, he jumped with everything he had. But the jump made no difference. A mass of yellow water held him. Stark terror took an even deeper hold on him. He shook and trembled with fright. His arms and legs wouldn’t move. He tried to call for help, but nothing happened.

Q16. 7 crossed to oblivion, and the curtain of life fell.’ How did Douglas experience the sensation of dying before he actually crossed to oblivion?

Ans. As Douglas went down the pool the third time, he swallowed more water. All his efforts to jump up ceased. His legs felt limp. A blackness swept over his brain and it wiped out fear and terror. There was no more panic. It was quiet and peaceful. He felt drowsy and wanted to go to sleep.

Q17. In what state did Douglas find himself on regaining consciousness?

Ans. He found himself lying on his stomach near the pool. He was vomiting. The fellow who had thrown him in the pool was saying that he was only joking. Then someone remarked that the small boy had nearly died. He hoped that he would be all right then. Then he was carried to the locker room for change of clothes.

Q18. How did Douglas react to the frightening experience (i) that day and (ii) later when he came to know the waters of the Cascades?

Ans. (i) He walked home after several hours. He was weak and trembling. He shook and cried when he lay on his bed. He couldn’t eat that night. A haunting fear was there in his heart. The slightest exertion upset him. His knees became wobbly. He felt sick to his stomach. (ii) Whenever he waded the Tieton or Bumping River or bathed in Warm Lake of Goat Rocks, the terror that had seized him in the pool would come back. This terror would take possession of him completely. His legs would become paralysed. Icy horror would grab his heart.

Q19. “This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by.” How did it affect his pursuits for pleasure?

Ans. The haunting fear of water followed Douglas everywhere. He rowed in canoes on Maine lakes fishing for landlocked salmon. He went for bass fishing in New Hampshire, trout fishing on the Deschutes and Metolius in Oregon, fishing for salmon on the Columbia, at Bumping Lake in the Cascades. Fear ruined his fishing trips. It deprived him of the joy of canoeing, boating, and swimming.

Q20. What efforts did Douglas make to get over his fear of water and why?

Ans. Fear of water was a handicap Douglas developed during his childhood. It stayed with him as he grew older. It ruined his pursuits of pleasure such as canoeing, boating, swimming and fishing. He used every method he knew to overcome this fear. Finally, he determined to get an instructor and learn swimming.

Q21. What was the first piece of exercise the Instructor gave Douglas? How long did it take to yield the desired result?

Ans. The instructor made him go across the pool an hour a day for five days with the help of a rope attached to his belt. The rope went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. The instructor held on to the end of the rope. They went back and forth across the pool. A bit of panic seized him every time. Moreover, the old terror returned and his legs froze when the instructor loosened his grip on the rope and Douglas went under water. It was after three months that the tension began to decrease.

Q22. Which other exercise did the Instructor prescribe for Douglas to make him shed the panic caused by water?

Ans. He taught Douglas to put his face under water and exhale. Then he was to raise his nose
and inhale. He repeated this exercise hundreds of time. Bit by bit he shed part of the panic that seized him when his head went under water.

Q23. Which exercise helped Douglas to loosen his stiff legs and make them work as he desired?

Ans. The Instructor held Douglas at the side of the swimming pool. Then he made Douglas kick vfith his legs. He did just that for weeks. At first his legs refused to work. But gradually they relaxed. Finally, he was able to command them.

Q24. Why does Douglas say: ‘The Instructor was finished. But I was not finished?’ How did he overpower tiny vestiges of the old terror?

Ans. The Instructor’s work was over when he built a swimmer out of Douglas piece by piece and then put them together into an integrated whole. However, Douglas was not satisfied
as the remnants of the old terror would return when he swam alone in the pool. He would frown on terror go for another length of the pool.

Q25. Why did Douglas go to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire? How did he make his terror flee ?

Ans. Douglas was not sure whether all the terror had left even after the training from October to April and practice till July. So, he went to Lake Wentworth and swam two miles. Terror returned only once when he was in the middle of the lake. He had put his face under and saw nothing but bottomless water. The old sensation returned in a smaller size. He laughed and rebuked terror. His terror fled away and he swam on.