The Cold Within Summary and Important Questions

Study Material

Students can refer to the Cold Within Summary Treasure Trove ICSE Class 10 which has been prepared for ICSE Class 10 English Students based on the latest syllabus and examination guidelines issued by ICSE. Students are requested to read and download these study notes for each chapter and topic and use them for understanding each important topic and also practice questions to get better marks in exams. You can also refer to the ICSE Class 10 Engish book for more details and after going through the summary trying solving ICSE Class 10 English Sample Papers

ICSE Class 10 The Cold Within Summary

Students should refer to the summary provided below for The Cold Within, this is an important chapter in ICSE Class 10 English book. You can refer to all Treasure Trove Poem Summary provided on our website. These have been prepared based on the latest books and syllabus issued by ICSE.

Cold Within Summary Treasure Trove and Questions

‘The Cold Within’ was written in the 1960s by an American poet James Patrick Kinney. It has appeared in countless church bulletins, websites and teaching seminars, as well as, magazines and newspapers. The poem is a true comment on lack of warmth and compassion among human beings. None of the six people, who by chance are trapped together in bitter cold, agree to put in use their stick of wood to kindle the fire and get warmth. The poem through such acts of six humans tries to describe the attitudes of the human beings in general.

The Poet…
James Patrick Kinney was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He came from a poor Irish family and had to drop out from school in 10th grade to take care of his mother’s health. He himself had to suffer discrimination because of his poor background in the same way as there happened to be discrimination based on caste, creed and color. He lived according to his ideals and ideas.
Apart from his inspiring poem ‘The Cold Within’, his other famous poems are A Better World, A glimpse of Pioneer Ways, My New-Found Friend, Who am I and the Secret of Life.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 51.

The Poem in Detail…
STANZA 1 & 2:
Six human beings are by chance caught in a difficult situation. There is extreme cold and each of them has a stick of wood and the fire was about to be extinguished as the story is told. Their dying fire needed wood. The first man about to offer his stick of wood held it back because one of the faces around the fire was black.

STANZA 3 & 4:
The next man saw that one of the men sitting there did not belong to his particular church. Then he did not have the heart to offer his stick of wood. The third one was very poor; his clothes were torn and in rags but he could not prepare himself to give away his stick as it will give the idle rich warmth and heat.

STANZA 5 & 6:
The rich man on the other hand thinks of his wealth he has in store and how to keep it safe from the lazy and homeless poor people. He also does not want to give his stick.
The black man’s face expressed the feeling of revenge. He wanted to take revenge. The stick of wood for him is a kind of source of revenge. By not giving up his stick, he has a chance to harm the white men.

STANZA 7 & 8:
The last man of the group is a totally selfish man. He cannot give away to anything, if he does not get something in return. Therefore, he also does nothing.
All these six men kept their sticks in their hands and did not offer their sticks so that the dying fire could have been rekindled. It was a sure way of death, which they themselves invited.

They did not die from the cold which was outside; they died from the cold which was in their hearts. It was a cold of hatred, racism color, caste and creed.

Uselessness of discrimination and its result is the theme of the poem. How futile that hatred against each other is which only brings destruction and death. This theme has been successfully elaborated by the poet through their tragic end, which could have been easily avoided. Differences based on religion, color, caste and creed always create havoc in life and man becomes indifferent to man. In such a world, there can be no peace, prosperity or adjustment or warmth in relations. Such a world does not remain a place worth living.

The same is happening today as expressed by the poet.

(i) Rhyming Scheme:
A rhyming scheme heightens the effect of the subject being narrated. Here the rhyming scheme followed is a b c b.
    For Example:
    Their dying fire in need of logs
    The first man held his back
    For of the faces round the fire
    He noticed one was black.

(i) Alliteration:
The figure of speech alliteration is used here.

For Example:
In bleak and bitter cold
For of the faces round the fire.

(ii) Personification:
It is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstract ideas are described as if animate and living e.g. Their logs held light in death’s still hands.

(iii) Oxymoron:
It is a special form of antithesis, whereby two contradictory qualities are predicted at once the same thing.
For example:
The last man of this forlorn group.

(iv) Tone:
The tone of poem is sad and tragic. It is an ironical that six people invite death or prefer death to a little act of adjustment or consideration.

• Trapped –caught in a difficult and inescapable situation.
• happenstance – something that happens by chance.
• black stick – a small log of wood.
• black – of African origin, not of this church- person of different religion or faith
• Tattered clothes – rags
• idle rich – the rich who do not work hard but prosper on the labour of the poor lazy – idle
• shiftless – lacking ambition or energy
• hitch – pull up or fasten tightly.
• bespoke – showed signs of.
• spite – hatred
• nought – nothing
• cold without – cold weather outside.
• cold within – lack of human feelings like kindness, generosity, selflessness etc.
• human sin – disobedience to God’s commandment – love thy neighbor as thyself.

(1) Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
     Six humans trapped by happenstance
     In bleak and bitter cold
     Each one possessed stick of wood
     or so the story is told
    Their dying fire in need of logs
    The first man held his back
    For of the faces round the fire
   He noticed one was black
1. Which figure of speech is used in the line. “In bleak and bitter cold? What special significance do the adjectives bleak and bitter have?
A1. Alliteration is the figure of speech used in the line. ‘In bleak and bitter cold’. These adjectives, bleak and bitter not only signify the extreme cold but also the attitudes of the six people who are trapped by chance in that cold region.

2. Who are the people referred to in the above extract? Why do they need logs?
A2. The people referred to in the above extract are simply six men who are by chance trapped together in bitter and biting cold. They are unknown to one another. There is a fire dying because of lack of wood. Therefore, they need logs to rekindle the dying fire.

3. What does the word ‘happenstance’ mean?
A3. The word ‘happenstance’ means something that happens by chance. In this way, it relates to the theme of poem, because six people are here together by chance.

4. State how the following line relates to the theme of the poem:
‘Their dying fire in need of logs’
A4. The line ‘their dying ………… logs’ means literally that the dying fire needs logs to be rekindled, but it is also connected with the theme of the poem. Dying fire symbolizes dying warmth and compassion among humans. Logs signify the source of warmth which can light the fire or warmth in dying emotions of compassion and love in humans.

5. What does the first man hold back and why?
A5. The first man holds back the stick of wood. He does so because one of the six men is black and he is white. Therefore, he does not want a black man to share the heat and warmth of fire along with him.

6. What character traits would you associate with ‘the first man’ and ‘the next man? ‘Why?
A6. The man does not put his log in the fire because one of the six men around the fire is black. It is the discrimination of color.
Another man does not put his stick of wood in the fire because one of the six does not belong to the same church or same religious community. It is the discrimination of religion or faith.

7. What sin is hinted in the last lines?
A7. The sin of racial discrimination is hinted in the last lines. The first man does not want to save a black man, even at the cost of his own life. Such is the prejudice of racial discrimination deep rooted in his heart.

8. What does the phrase ’six humans’ signify?
A8. By saying ‘six humans’, it is almost as if he is talking about all humans. If he would have said ‘six people’, it had been different. It seems as if these ‘six humans’ represent the whole human race and its prejudices.

(2) Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
      The next man looking ‘cross the way’
      Saw one not of his church
      And could not bring himself to give
      The fire his stick of birch.
      The third one sat in tattered clothes
      He gave his coat a hitch
      Why should his log be put to use
      To warm the idle rich

1. Why did ‘the next man’ refuse to use his stick of wood?
A1. The man refused to use his log because one of six men did not belong to his church. This is the example of religious intolerance seen everywhere.

2. Who was the ‘third man’? Why did he not use his stick of wood?
A2. The third man was very poor and was in tattered or torn clothes. He envied the rich man. Therefore, he did not want to use his log to save the rich.

A3. The word ‘tattered’ means torn and the word ‘hitch’ means pull up or fasten tightly.
3. Give the meaning of ‘tattered’ and ‘hitch’.

4. What do these six men symbolize?
A4. These six men are the symbol of whole human race. In fact, the traits of these six men can be seen everywhere around the world. There is no place in this whole earth where such discriminations are not seen and where human beings do not envy or hate or indulge in such petty mean activities.

(3) Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
      The rich man just sat back and thought
      of the wealth he had in store
      And how to keep what he had earned
      The black man’s face just spoke revenge
      As the fire passed from his sight
      For all he saw in his stick of wood
      Was a chance to spite the white

1. What did the rich man think?
A1. The rich man thought of his wealth which he had accumulated by exploiting the poor and how he could go on collecting more and more riches.

2. What is the symbol word used in these lines? Why?
A2. Stick is the symbol word used in these lines. It is used for emphasis.

3. Why did the rich man and the black man refuse to use their sticks?
A3. The rich man wanted to keep away his stick from the poor so that the idle worthless poor may not get the warmth or heat needed in that biting cold. The black man did not offer his stick because he saw a chance to get revenge from the white who had always treated them as dirt.

4. Give the meaning of the words ‘bespoke ‘and ‘shiftless’.
A4. Bespoke means showed or showed signs and shiftless means without ambition or energy.

5. Why did the black hate the white so much? Did his hatred and feeling of revenge help him?
A5. For years, the white man had trampled and ill-treated the black man. The feeling of hatred and revenge was natural. No, it did not benefit the black because he also died along with the white.

(4) Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
      The last man of this forlorn group
      Did nought except for gain
      Giving only to those who gave Was how he played the game
      Their logs hold tight in death’s still hands
      Was proof of human sin
      They did not die from the cold without
      They died from the cold within
1. What happened to the last man? What did he do?
A1. The last man was misguided by selfishness all his life. He was so selfish that he never did anything unless he got something in return. Because of this inherent selfishness he also did not put his log in the fire.

2. Which figure of speech is used in the following lines:
‘This forlorn group’ and explain it.
A2. In the phrase ‘forlorn group’, the figure of speech oxymoron is used.
Although they were a group but it was such a group which had no feeling of compassion or humanity for each other.

3. What proof of human sin is being referred to here? Explain.
A3. The proof of human sin referred to here is disobedience to God’s commandment – ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’. Had they followed it, the fire would have been lighted and their lives would have been saved.

4. The poet says that the six men ‘died from cold within’. What does the mean? explain.
A4. If all those six men had offered their sticks of wood, the fire would not have been extinguished and they would have lived, not died in that forlorn cold place. They did not offer their sticks, because all were prejudiced for one reason or another and thus they all perished. They did not die from the bitter cold which was without or outside but from cold within.

5. What message is the poet trying to convey in the poem? Does he succeed?
A5. The poet is trying to convey the message that prejudices, discrimination of caste, creed and color hatred, feeling of revenge are destructive. They are neither good for the receiver nor the perpetrator. Yes, he succeeds in his effort. The message goes to the core of the reader’s heart and that is the reason that even after more than hundred years, the poem is still read and appreciated.

Cold Within Summary Treasure Trove