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Tamilnadu Samacheer Kalvi 11th English Solutions Poem Chapter 4 Macavity – The Mystery Cat
A. French proverb goes thus: ‘The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry.’ You may have observed that all animals possess a number of unique qualities. Fill in the columns with words and phrases associated with each of the following animals.
|aggressive||pretends to be gentle||rough||gentle|
|fights for food||quickly steals food||predatory||graceful|
B. People admire some of these animal qualities. What are they? Have you noticed some of them in yourself or in others? Share your views with the class.
Cats are stealthy and walk without making noise.
My friend Vimal / Mala is cat-like. He / She surprises me often appearing suddenly. Jackal is clever and persuades others like Ratna / Raja to work for him. Whenever a difficult assignment is given, he / she praises the gifted student and gets his/ her work done. Elephant is graceful and known for strong memory. Murugan / Neela is very gentle and has terrific memory. One must be very cautious with such persons. Even a small hurt will be in their memory for long.
Samacheer Kalvi 11th English Macavity – The Mystery Cat Textual Questions
A. Based on your understanding of the poem, answer the following question in a sentence or two.
Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!
Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!
He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!
And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair
But it’s useless to investigate, Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
‘It must have been Macavity!’ but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place, MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known,
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime
What is Macavity’s nickname?
Macavity’s nickname is the Hidden Paw.
Why is the Flying Squad frustrated?
The Flying squad is frustrated because every time they rush to the spot of crime to arrest Macavity, he is not there.
Which law does Macavity break?
Macavity not only breaks the human law but also breaks the law of gravity.
What makes the fakir stare in wonder?
Macavity’s power of levitation makes the fakir stare in wonder.
Describe Macavity’s appearance.
Macavity is a tall and thin ginger cat whose eyebrows are deep with lines. He has sunken eyes which gives him a devil look. His coat is untidy and his whiskers are uncombed.
Where can you encounter Macavity?
One may meet Macavity in a street or in the square. But he vanishes when a crime is committed.
Why does the poet say Macavity is ‘outwardly’ respectable?
The poet says that Macavity is outwardly’ respectable because he pretends to be a good one. But his actions disprove it.
Why is Macavity called the ‘Napoleon of Crime’?
He is agile and cautious. He is a monster of depravity
Which two characters does the poet refer to as examples of wicked cats?
Macavity will escape a mile away from the scene of the crime.
Mention any two qualities of Macavity.
Similar to Napoleon he was a strategist and military leader. Macavity controlled the operations of all the wicked cats in London.
B. Read the poem once again and complete the summary using the words given in the box.
Macavity – The Mystery Cat’ is a humorous poem, where the poet T.S. Eliot describes the mysterious
(a) ______ of a shrewd vile cat. He commits a crime at every possible opportunity.He is an elusive master (b) ______ who leaves no evidence after he commits a crime.Even the Scotland Yard, the London (c) ______ agency is unable to arrest him. The Flying Squad is (d) ______ because every time they rush to the crime spot to seize Macavity, he is not there. He breaks the human law as well as the law of (e) ______ He baffles even a (f) ______ with his powers of levitation. Macavity appears tall and thin with (g) ______ eyes. He is always preoccupied with some serious (h) ______ His coat is dusty and his (i) ______ are unkempt. Macavity is a (f) ______ in the guise of a cat. He appears to be outwardly (k) ______ but his actions disprove it. Macavity loots the (l) ______ , ransacks the jewel-case, and breaks the (m) ______ glass but wonder of wonders he is not to be found anywhere there. He is always a mile away from the scene of crime, happily relaxing or doing difficult (n) ______ sums. He is clever at making up an (o) ______ every time he plots a crime. All the notorious cats are nothing but the (p) ______ of Macavity, the Napoleon of Crime.
C. Read the poem and answer the following in a short paragraph of 8 to 10 sentences each.
What are the mysterious ways in which Macavity acts?
Macavity is an elusive master criminal who leaves no evidence after he commits a crime. He baffles Scotland Yard police and the flying squad as he disappears before their arrival to the scene of crime. He defies law of gravity and his powers of levitation make me fakir stare with wonder. Macavity loots the larder. He ransacks the jewel case. He is an elusive criminal who escapes from the spot of crime before the flying squad or Scotland Yard reach there. He breaks every human law and laws of gravity. He breaks greenhouse glasses. He steals stealthily into . the kitchen and empties milk. When an important treaty in the embassy is missing or. when the admiralty loses some plans or drawings, the investigation terms conclude that it is the work of Macavity. But Macavity, as a wonder of wonders, would be miles away relaxing somewhere.
Give an account of Macavity’s destructive mischief.
Macavity is a “Friend in feline shape”. He loots the food from the larder. Jewel’s case gets ransacked. Milk gets robbed. A Pekinese dog is stifled. Greenhouse glass is broken. The important agreement in the embassy is tom and important drawings in the admiralty are lost. The investigation team may find a scrap of paper in the stairs but Macavity always makes good his escape after doing all the above destructive activities. Besides, he is the Napoleon of crime controlling the operations of all cats in London.
Describe the appearance and qualities of Macavity.
Macavity is tall and thin. His eyes are sunken in. His brow is deeply lined with thought. His head is highly domed. His coat is dusty and his whiskers unkempt. He makes movements like a snake. He is a friend in feline shape. He is a monster of depravity. He is a cat of deceitfulness and suavity. When one thinks he is half-asleep, he is wide awake. He is an elusive, agile and phantom-like cat.
D. Read the given lines and answer the questions that follow.
(i) Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw…
Does the poet talk about a real cat?
No, Macavity is not a real cat.
Why is he called the Hidden Paw?
He is called a “ Hidden paw “ because even Scotland Yard is unable to arrest him after he commits any crime. He does not leave his footprints in the spot of crime.
(ii) He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair: For when they reach the scene of crime Macavity’s not there!..
What is ‘Scotland Yard’?
‘Scotland yard’ is the headquarters of London Metropolitan police service.
Why does the flying squad feel disappointed?
The flying squad reaches the scene of crime very fast. But Macavity is not at all there. The flying squad is disappointed because they are unable to arrest the crafty criminal.
(iii) He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake…
Explain the comparison made here.
The poet compares the movement of the cat to that of a snake. He employs a simile here.
The movement is quiet but swift.
What does he pretend to do?
He pretends to be half asleep when he is fully awake. .
Identify the figure of speech in the first line.
(iv) For he’s a fiend in feline, shape, a monster of depravity.
How is the cat described in this line?
Macavity is described as a “demon in the shape of a cat”.
Explain the phrase ‘monster of depravity’.
Satan is called the master of depravity. T.S. Eliot calls Macavity, the master of depravity. He means that the cat is an embodiment of evil. He is wicked, all the time involved in doing something evil.
(v) And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
What seems to be a challenge for the Scotland Yard?
Scotland Yard police, known for its efficiency to nab criminals in record time, is unable to link any crime to Macavity. He has an alibi whenever a crime is committed. Arresting Macavity with clinching evidence for his involvement in a crime is a challenge for Scotland Yard.
Why do they need his footprints?
They need Macavity’s footprints to prove to the court of law that he was present at the scene of the crime.
(iv) It must have been Macavity!’ but he’s a mile away.
What is Macavity blamed for?
Macavity is blamed for most of the crimes which leave the Scotland police and flying squad fuming and fretting because he just vanishes after every crime is committed. Besides, he leaves no proof or evidence behind.
Where is he?
He is in a by-street or in the square when a crime is discovered. He always has one or two alibi.
(vii) There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
Which cat is being talked of here?
Macavity is being talked of here.
How is he different from the rest?
Other cats are lazy and just stay in the kitchen and take the food offered by their master. But Macavity is agile and defies law of the land and laws of gravity.. Despite doing all wicked things, he pretends to be innocent. So the poet claims one can never come across such a cat of “Deceitfulness and suavity”
E. Explain the following lines with reference to the context.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare
Reference: These words are from the poem “Macavity – the mystery cat” written by T.S. Eliot. Context: T.S Eliot says, these words describing the skills of Macavity – The mystery cat. Explanation: Macavity does all kinds of mischiefs, petty thefts. He breaks things also. But before anyone could link the crime to Macavity he makes good his escape, floating in the air, jumping from building to building. His powers of levitation baffle even a fakir who has mystical powers.
Comment: The truth behind levitation is well brought out.
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always Wide awake
Reference: These words are from the poem “ Macavity – the mystery cat” written by T.S. Eliot.
Context: The poet says these words about the ability of the mysterious cat to hoodwink everyone.
Explanation: Macavity is a master of deceitfulness and suavity. When he appears to “be half-asleep with his half-closed eyes, he would be wide-awake. He is an enigma to everyone. Comment: Macavity is indeed a mystery.
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s
Reference: These words are. from the poem “ Macavity the mystery cat” written by T.S. Eliot. Context: The poet says these words about the clever escape Macavity makes after every crime is committed.
Explanation: Scotland yard police is known all over the world for its capacity to investigate crimes and nab criminals in record time. But many crimes happen in London. Before Scotland Yard or the flying squad could reach the spot of crime, the criminal vanishes without leaving
any trace of the evidence. Scotland yard police wants to nab him with evidence. But his foot prints are nowhere to be found. So, Scotland Yard is unable to arrest Macavity.
Comment: The mysterious moves of Macavity stuns even the Scotland Yard.
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair.
But it’s useless to investigate…
Reference: There words are from the poem “Macavity- the mysterious cat” written by T.S. Eliot .
Context: The poet says these words while discussing the leftover evidence of crime. Explanation: The Scotland yard police and the flying squads are guardians of peace in London. They keep watching. But whenever Macavity does a crime, he leaves before the police arrives. The clues like an empty larder, rifled jewel case, the disappearance of a treaty or drawings from the office or admiralty may lead to some shredded bits of paper lying on the floor or the staircase. But these bits of paper can’t help the police nab Macavity. They know it is the work of Macavity but they are helpless.
Comment: Not a trace is left behind by mysterious Macavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare
Reference: These words are from the poem, “ Macavity – the mystery cat” written by T.S. Eliot.
Context: The poet says these words while describing the deceitful and clever nature of Macavity.
Explanation: Macavity breaks the laws of the land regularly. But gets away before the long arm. of the law reaches the spot of crime. He always has an alibi (one or more to spare) to escape from being caught. This proves his cleverness.
Comment: The wit of Macavity needs high commendation.
Macavity is a Mystery cat; he’s called the Hidden paw
Reference: These words are from the poem, “Macavity – the mystery cat”.
Context: T.S. Eliot says these words while discussing the deceitfulness and the ability of the wicked cat to disappear room after a crime is committed.
Explanation: The poet describes the attributes of the mystery cat “ Macavity the cat is deceitful • and he baffles Scotland yard. The modus operandi of each unsolved crime points to Macavity only. But the lack of evidence like footprint prevents Scotland yard police from arresting him. Hence, he is called “The Hidden Law”.
Comment: Does Macavity truly have an unseen paw?
Just controls their operation ; the Napoleon of Crime .
Reference: These words are from the poem, “ Macavity – the mystery cat, written by T.S. Eliot.
Context: The poet says this about the daring acts of evil done by enigmatic villainous cat Macavity.
Explanation: Scotland yard police is unable to arrest Macavity as he leaves no evidence of crime he commits. He has many agents whose operations are controlled by him. Macavity is like military despot Napoleon, he guides all wicked cats in London unseen.
Comment: There is indeed no difference between Napoleon and Macavity.
F. Eliot has used many figures of speech to present the poem to the readers in an interesting way. He has attributed human qualities to a cat in this poem.
Identify the literary devices used in the following lines: .
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake.
They say he cheats at cards.
(c) for he’s a friend in feline shape – Personification
(d) He’s outwardly respectable (they say he cheats at cards) – personification (The animal is attributed to human qualities)
(e) Just control their operations ; the Napoleon of Crime – Personification
(f) He always has an alibi and one or two to spare – Personification
(g) Or engaged in doing a complicated long division sums – Personification
(h) Are nothing more than agents for the Cat – Personification
(i) Just controls their operations the Napoleon or crime – metaphor
Give four instances where the poet has used alliteration in the poem.
milk, missing, larder’s, looted, sways, side to side, snake, break, broke – Alliteration
What is the rhyme scheme used in the poem?
Rhyme scheme of the poem is aa bb
(iv) Pick out all the pairs of rhyming words used in the poem.
Rhyming words in the poem
(a) Paw: Law
(b) despair: there
(c) Macavity: gravity
(d) stare: there
(e) air: there
(f) thin: in
(g) domed: uncombed
(h) snake: awake
(i) Macavity: depravity
(j) Square : their
(k) cards: yards
(l) rifled: stifled
(m) repair: there
(n) astray: way
(o) stair: there
(p) say: away
(q) thumbs : sums.
(r) Macavity: suavity
(s) spare: there
(t) known: bone
(u) time: crime
G. First, read the following sets of limericks with missing words. Now, listen to them being read out aloud by your teacher or played on the recorder. As you enjoy the absurd fun, complete the verse with what you hear. You may listen to them again, if required.
A wonderful bird is the (i) ______
His beak can hold more than his (ii) _______ can.
He can hold in his beak Enough food for a (iii) _______ !
But I’ll be darned if I know how the Peli-can?
There once was a (iv) _______ at the zoo
Who always had something to do
When it (iv) _______ him, you know,
To go to and fro.
He (v) _______ . it and went fro and to.
There once was a (vi) _______ little bunny
Who I thought was sweet and (vii) _______ .
He ate all the carrots,
And looked at the .(ix) _______
And that was my cute little (x) _______
H. Speaking Activity
Work with a partner. Read the following questions and share your views with the class. Have you heard of the phrase ‘cat’s paw’? The meaning is similar to that of ‘firing from the other’s shoulder’. ‘Cat’s paw’ refers to a person who is used unwittingly or unwillingly by another person to accomplish his own purpose.
This phrase originates from the fable ‘The Monkey and the Cat’. Explain how Macavity contradicts the phrase ‘cat’s paw’.
Cat’s paw means being an incumbent in someone’s hand and do what the other person says. But Macavity is the master. He’s nicknamed the “hidden paw”. He is the Napoleon of crime controlling the operation of all the wicked cats in London. Macavity really contradicts “cat’s paw” absolutely.
‘When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby.’ Explain the meaning of this statement to your friends.
Mouse knows the capacity of the cat to pounce on him and make a meal of him in just records. The mouse could dare to laugh at the cat when the scope of escape into the hole is bright.
Compose your own limericks on an elephant, a peacock and a butterfly. Read it put to your class.
A Spider awaits a butterfly
As he comes fluttering by
It’s caught in the silken trap
And straggles acts wings flap
Battling for survival under the blue skies
2. An elephant
There was a little elephant
To whom the river bank was forbidden .
But he went to the brink
Waiting for the crow to drink
And a bitter lesson when his flunk got bitten
3. A Peacock
“Joy is a peacock. It’s beauty so rare
A rainbow of colours that vibrantly flares
After the rain, brightly they come out
Into a fan-like form uniquely it creates
Never forgot, this vision, joyfully it illuminates”!
Macavity – The Mystery Cat About the Poet:
T.S Eliot (1888-1965) is an Essayist, play wright, literary and social critic. He moved out of USA to become a citizen of Great Britain at the age of 25. He renounced his American Passport when he was 39. He attracted widespread attention for his poem “The Love Song” of Alfred Prufrock (1915). It was seen on his Masterpiece of modern movement. It was followed by some of his best known poems including “The Wasteland” (1922), “The hollow men” (1915), “Ash Wednesday” (1930) and “Four quarters” (1943). During his stay in Harvard University, he developed a deep understanding of Indian philosophy and also studied Sanskrit. It is said that when he wrote the poem “The Wasteland”, doctors expressed concern over the health of his mind and strongly advised him to avoid writing.
But he wrote the poem in any paper that was found. It was Ezra Pound who brought order by editing the poem. He is well remembered for his plays such as “Murder in the Cathedral” (1935) and “The Cocktail Party” (1949). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948 for his outstanding, pioneering contribution to modern poetry.
Macavity – The Mystery Cat Summary
“Macavity, The mystery cat”, is a humorous poem from a serious poet. The poet describes the atrocities done by Macavity. He commits crime after crime with impunity and without leaving any evidence. He looks for the opportune moment to commit the crime and gets away before the Scotland yard Police troops come in. Every time he does a crime, he is sensible enough to stay out of the spot of crime when investigators reach the spot of crime. He breaks every human law and even the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation startles even a fakir. He is always preoccupied with some serious thought. He has dirty coat and unkempt hair like modem gypsies. He is a hypocrite who appears to be respectable but does every mean act. He loots food, ransacks the jewel case and breaks the green house glass. But it is amazing that nobody is able to find him in the scene of crime. It looks as if all the vile cat in the area act as per his script. Like cold-blooded criminals, he always makes up an alibi every time he commits a criminal act. He is the chief of all wicked cats. He resembles “Napoleon of crime”, the chief of criminal act.
Macavity – The Mystery Cat Glossary
Admiralty – a Government Department that administered the British Navy
alibi – a claim Of evidence that one was elsewhere when a Crime was committed
bafflement total confusion
deceitfulness – cunnmgness
defy – to resist or to challenge
depravity – evil quality; immorality
fakir – a holy person who live son alms and has the power to levitate
feline – cat
fiend – demon
Flying Squad – a police force ready to plunge into action
ginger – alert and cautious
larder – cupboard for storing food
levitation – the action of rising and floating in air
Peke – a Pekinese dog
rifle – ransack; to steal
Scotland Yard – the headquarters of London Metropolitan Police Service
stifle – suppress someone from acting; restrain
suavity – confidence and sophistication
trellis – wooden bar used as a support for creepers
atrocities – cruelty; violation; wrongdoing
complicated – tough
criminal – law breaker
go astray – become useless; trangress
hypocrite – pretender, one who acts like adifferent person
impunity – doing wicked things without ever getting punished;unpunished
investigate – enquire
limerick – a humourous verse of five lines
startles – amazes
treaty – pact
vile – wicked