Fire in the Forest: Summary and Exercise [Question Answer]

Fire in the Forest

Summary of Fire in the Forest

In this essay, ‘Fire in the Forest’ Norah Burke has conveyed how animals in the forest fight for survival demands and how the fire broke out in the forest because of the negligence of a man. She has also how forest department officials use a special technique to put out the fire in the forest.

To be able to write about animals, it is essential not only to have personal experience and knowledge of animals, but a profound and sympathetic understanding of their habits, Norah Burke has all these, and in her stories, she recreates with power and conviction the savagery and terror of the jungle, which they fight for survival demands. (From Jungle Picture)

A man took a last draw of the cigarette and dropped it on the path in the forest. The stub of the cigarette had a little spark, it became a flame and burned into a forest fire. The forest officials lit their counterfire and forced it to travel upwind and meet the oncoming blaze.

The spotted deer was away from the herd as she has just delivered a fawn the deer scented danger and urged the fawn to hurry. The deer pushed her fawn into the edge of the water and she stood watching. Even the tiger also wanted to save himself from forest fire just like other animals, when the flames in the forest became less, a cool breeze blew along the watercourse and the animal depressed.

About The Author

Norah Aileen Burke was born in Bedford on August 2, 1907, her parents—who had lived in India for many years—returned especially for her birth. The family returned to India when the baby Norah was only two months old, and she spent the next twelve years travelling around the jungle at the foothills of the Himalayas where her father, Redmond St. George Burke, was a forest officer with the Imperial Forest Service.

Constantly changing camps, carrying their belongings by elephant, made education difficult, but she learned to write at the age of eight and started writing stories straight away. She also read as much as she could, including bound volumes of Chums and Boy’s Own Paper, and even wrote and edited her own little magazine entitled The Monthly Dorrit.

Questions & Answers

1 How did the fire in the forest start? What time of the day was it? What time of the year was it? Do you think the man started a fire deliberately? Why do you (not) think so?

⇒ The fire in the forest started because a man who was jogging in the forest dropped his cigarette on the path. It was midday. It was summer. No, I think so because he dropped it and jogged on through the jungle. It was an act of carelessness. 

2 How did the fire start and spread in the forest?

A. A smoker took a last draw of his cigarette and dropped it on the path at midday in the jungle. The spark In the cigarette ignited the dried pieces of grass and twigs. There was a breeze and the small flame grew into a mighty blaze. Soon it could be seen for miles around. 

3 The stub of the cigarette still held in it one little live ruby. Throughout the story, the fire is described as though it is a living thing may be another animal of the forest. What other words in the same paragraph suggest this ideas would you like to read through and find several more words of the same kind?

⇒ The words pulsed, transferred, snapped, clung survived etc. suggest that the fire is described as though it is a living thing and as if it were another animal of the forest. 

4 Why were the animals not aware of what was to came? Why did the bird know about the fire before the animals did?

⇒ The animals were resting in the heat of the day under the cool shade of the trees. So they were not aware of the oncoming fire. But the bird was able to see the floating smoke and knew about the fire before the other animals did because it was whishing at the top of the thorn tree. 

5 The forest department started a fire to stop the fire. what was the idea behind it?

The forest department people cleared the undergrowth and all the trees and made a fire line to meet situations like this. They lighted up the counter fire along the edge of the neat fire line. Then it met the oncoming forest fire. when the two fires met, there would be nothing to burn. so both fires would go out. It was their special technique to halt the fire.

6 Why was the spotted deer lying away from the herd? why do you think she had chosen that spot? How did she feel at that time? What happened soon afterwards?

⇒  The spotted deer was lying away from the herd because she had recently given birth to fawn. she had chosen that particular spot as there was deep grass and her baby was safely hidden beside her. She was happy, peaceful and contented soon afterwards her peace was shattered because of the spread of the forest fire. 

Why was the spotted deer lying away from the herd? Why do you think she had chosen that spot? A. The spotter deer had recently given birth to a fawn . so she was lying away from the herd. She had specially chosen that spot because the deep grass there provided her a safe hiding place. Besides, the speckled shadows and the spots on her body looked so alike that her presence there with her baby could never be noticed by her enemies. 

7 How did the deer lie in the forest with her fawn?

⇒ The deer lay invisible in the forest wither fawn in a happy and peaceful manner. She knew contentment and peace because no danger threatened her baby. she was happy about her achievement of having a baby. This peace was shattered by the approaching fire. 

8 How do the deer spot danger? Why was she on the alert all the time?

⇒ The deer’s ears constantly flicker this way and that way and that to bring them news. Their large eyes always stare into the shadows and the stripy tiger grass and their nostrils will be trembling in order to spot any danger. 

9 What were the thoughts and feelings of the mother deer before she became aware of the danger?

⇒ Her fawn was too small to move and accompany the herd. But soon he would be stranger. Then both of them would live their life in the great forests in the fashion ordained by God. So also felt sure that her tiny stag would fight and win his hind in due course. These were the thoughts and feelings of the mother deer. 

He was too small to move yet, and accompany the herd. Do you think the fawn joined the herd sooner than his mother expected?A. It is said that the mother and the son had “presently” joined the herd again. So I think the fawn joined the herd sooner than his mother expected . 

10 How did the deer react when she first got the small of danger?

⇒ The deer threw up her neck, every muscle of her body because alert as she felt the small of smoke. She outstretched her neck and soon her eyes began to smart. So bent anxiously to her fawn. Then she clearly saw the rolling smoke. 

11 The hind first saw a very thin film of smoke. The fire first appeared gradually to her but later with increasing intensity. What were the stages in which it came to her? Pick out the exact words from the story and list them?

⇒ The thin filmy smoke gradually turned into a fire and approached the hind with increasing intensity. The following are the exact words gossamer of smoke scent, the heat of the fire smoke crackle of travelling flame road of the furnace, sparks gigantic flame raging flame. 

12 What did the mother deer do on seeing of fire? How did the fawn respond?

⇒ The mother deer sprang to the fawn and pushed him to his feet. He was unable to do. So for his legs were soft and his hooves were the size of thumb bails. He gave a jump and fell over. She looked anxiously at her fawn. 

13 Why was the chital hind so cruel to her baby? Why did she do it?

⇒  Having seen the monkeys coming back, the chital hind anticipated mortal danger to her and her baby. Panic seized her. She there became cruel. At once she nudged her baby on. She started biting him hard and nipping his soft flesh. She was thus very much concerned and worried about his safety. 

14 What was the danger that threatened the chital hind’s baby?

1. The chital hinds son was a newborn baby who was too small to move yet.
2. Having anticipated danger from the forest fire, his mother first nudged him to his feet and urged him along.
3. But he kept sinking down.
4. His mother, then forced him on with rough bites, punched his soft flesh and hunted him on.
5. He was then suffering and trembling
6. Thus, it was, in fact, his own mother who threatened him. 

15 How did the hind and her baby try to escape from the fire?

⇒ The hind was on the alert the moment she noticed the smoke scent. She nudged her baby to his feet. They had to stop have and there occasionally because of the dense undergrowth. She urged him along. He was slow and disobedient but she forced him on with rough bites. Nipping his soft flesh etc. He staggered and fell. When she realized that they had been caught between the two fires. She pushed him violently on to the river bed but right by the pool. Later she also reached there. Thus the hind and her baby escaped from the fire and survived. 

16 “Just the way you could be caught between two hunting panthers”. DO you think the comparison is an apt one? In what way?

⇒ Having noticed the fierceness of the forest fire. The hind hunts her baby on but he cannot get up. Just then the hind sees more fire coming from the opposite direction too. If the two fires meet there was no hope of their survival. It is just the way they could be caught between two hunting panthers their bitter enemies. Hence the comparison is quite apt. 

17 ‘He gave a little frisky jump and fell over. This is how the fawn first reacted to his mother’s urging to run away from the fire. What happened to him as the minutes passed?

⇒ Reacting to his mother’s urge to run away from the fire, the fawn gave a little frisky jump and fell over. But as the minutes passed by

1. He became slow, weak and disobedient. He kept sinking down and could not get up again.
2. He walked unsteadily making shrill cries.
3. When his mother hunter him on, he staggered and fell and started quivering.
4. He lay panting on the earth and his flesh shivered when sparks fell on him burning his body but he did not get up. 

18 When did the deer first meet the tiger? Why did the tiger not attack her?

⇒ The hind first pushed her fawn down to the pool. Her hooves slipped on the boulders and as she stood watching beside her fawn, she glanced round across the pool straight into the eyes of the tiger and thus, met him first. The tiger did not attack her because he too was afraid of the fire and crouched there in the mud on the other side. Because of the severe heat and the bright light of the fire, he narrowed his eyes and stared into the deer. However, he was not able to attack her. 

19 What did the tiger prepare to do later? How did the deer face him? What saved her and her baby?

⇒ When the fire became less, the tiger got up and snarled at his prey. His eyes fell upon the hind and her baby. But when he was about to attack them, he heard a man’s voice and moved off the place quickly into the jungle far away. Thus the hind and her fawn were saved. 

Give two reasons why the tiger did not eat the fawn?

A. The tiger did not eat the fawn because he himself was frightened of the wildfire. He had just heard a man’ voice. He began to think of his own safety instead of attacking and eating the fawn. 

20 The river bed was full of creatures….? Is It natural for the animals of the jungle to be together? Why then were they there? What difference do you see in their behavior when the fire began to die down?

⇒ It is not natural for the animals of the jungle to be together. They were in the pool to save themselves from the engulfing fire. But whom the fire began to die down they became their usual selves. They behaved according to their instinct and dispersed. 

21 Why did the deer stay back even when the other animals went away? What did she do later?

⇒ The fawn was not strong enough to move. So he and his mother stayed in the pool cooling their burns and drinking the tepid water later when he became strong enough, they moved into the unburned forest. They soon joined the herd.

Additional Exercise

  1. Choose the correct meaning of the word given:
  1. shrub(n) : stunted forest growth/ unwanted material/ rub off/ ignore
  2. smart(v) : bright/ cause sharp pain/ active/ clever
  3. glade : clear/ open space in a forest/ a soft movement/ the shade of a tree/ forest area
  4. speckled : shining brightly/ having small sports/ having stripes/ scattered
  5. rippling : pulling out quickly/ moving in wavy fashion/ getting ripe/ moving quickly
  6. aquiver : like water/ moving slowly/ trembling/ sniff
  7. gossamer: one who is engaged in a gossip/ light, filmy substance/ one who gives ear to gossips/ spider’s web
  8. alert : watchful/ active/ busy/ standing erect
  9. frisky : cussing fear/ full of risk/ Joyful, lively/ free from any risk
  10. wrench : a wicked person/ pull violently/ causing injury/ mean person
  11. huddle : an upright frame to be jumped over/ crowd together/ throw out as useless/ arranged in order
  12. fizzle : give a whistle/ hiss feebly/ unsatisfactory end/ a confusing problem
  13. stalk(v) : go away/ go on talking/ walk with slow, stiff strides in a grim way/ walk away quickly in fear
  14. tepid : fearless/ lukewarm/ boiling/ cold
  15. singe : sing in a low voice/ sing loudly/ burn superficially/ warm the body
  16. chink : make a sharp sound/ a small bit / a hole / to go down
  17. torment : severe bodily or mental pain/ cause a wound / to worry / punish
  18. furnace : an enclosed fire place/put furniture in / supply / anything made of fur
  19. dappled: marketed / cut off / marked / separated
  20. frayed : rough / hard / difficult / rude
  21. blundering: worried / uneasy / angry / confused
  1. Select the best option that conveys the meaning of the italicized word and write it.
  1. Ramu stalked out of the hall after taking part in the debate. [ ]
    a) walked
    b) walked stiffly
    c) walked with unsteady steps
    d) hurried
  2. The way he was treated in the presence of his friends tormented him [ ]
    a) made (him) very happy
    b) caused(him) shame
    c) caused great pain
    d) helped to console
  3. When she saw her child after a long absence, love suffused her.[ ]
    a) over came b) well up from within c) made (her) mad d) became unbearable
  4. He was not aware of what was happening behind him. [ ]
    a) mindful b) having knowledge c) careful d) cautious
  5. The doctor advised him to keep his hands in tepid water for ten minutes [ ]
    a) cold b) lukewarm c) hot d) cool
  6. I found the man staggering on the road. [ ]
    a) running along b) walking fast c) went away in rows d) throwing something about
  7. He was waiting for the doctor frantically. [ ]
    a) in an angry mood b) in a vexed state c) wildly exited with anxiety d) in a joyful mood
  8. The popping sound of the crackers nearly deafened. [ ]
    a) slow b) melodious c) explosive d)disturbing
  9. At last we reached the glade in the middle of the forest. [ ]
    a) dark space b) clear open space c) uneven space d) cleared off space
  10. The child was frisky at the sight of balloons in the park. [ ]
    a) sad b) unconcerned c) joyful d)angry

III. Fill in the blanks in the following passage with the appropriate word given in the brackets.

  1. He behaved in a very _______ manner towards his poor relatives.
  2. All the characters in this novel are _______ (imaginable/imaginary/imaginative)
  3. By a strange _______ she got her first job the day she got married. (incidence/accident/coincidence)
  4. It is _______ to park your car in a no parking area(illegal/lawless/illegitimate)
  5. In a play Akbar that we performed at school, all the players were in Moghul_______
  6. (uniform/garment/costume)It is _______ for us to go out now, it is very hot. (unlikely/impossible /possible)
  7. Ours should be a _______ service to the poor. (compulsory/paid/free)
  8. A _______ man would believe his eyes instead of his heart. (doubtful/strong/sympathetic)
  9. She lost her brother .We went to _______ her. (congratulate/condemn/console)
  10. The Minister was given a standing _______
  1. Find the wrongly spelt word in each set and write it correctly
  2. doble / couple / struggle / nipple 
  3. coupling / cutting/ rippling / creackling 
  4. hurriedly / recently / delicately / constently 
  5. brutal / pistol / mortel / cruel 

In each of the following groups of words, find the word in which the underlined part is pronounced in the same way as in the keyword.

  1. advice : practise chalk practice
  2. throw : owl prowl go
  3. bread : beard eat head
  4. malice : police notice ice
  5. advice : chalk click glance
  6. descent : scooter scorching scenery


  1. Choose the correct meaning of the word given: 1. stunted forest growth 
  2. cause sharp pain 
  3. clear, open space in a forest
  4. having small sports
  5. moving in wavy fashion 
  6. trembling
  7. light, filmy substance
  8. watchful
  9. joyful, lively
  10. pull violently
  11. crowd together
  12. hiss feebly
  13. walk with slow, stiff strides in a grim way
  14. lukewarm
  15. burn superficially 
  16. a hole
  17. severe bodily or mental pain
  18. an enclosed fire place
  19. marked
  20. rough
  21. confused


  1. c
  2. b
  3. b
  4. b
  5. c
  6. c
  7. c
  8. b




  1. beneficial 
  2. imaginary
  3. coincidence
  4. illegal
  5. costume
  6. unlikely
  7. free
  8. doubtful
  9. console 
  10. ovation 


  1. double 
  2. crackling
  3. constantly
  4. mortal


  1. 1. practice 
  2. go
  3. head 
  4. ice
  5. glance
  6. scenery