Summary of The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel

The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel: About the poem

The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel is particularly remarkable for its depiction of Indianness in a satirical tone.

The poem is written in very simple language and in prose-poem style. No particular metre or rhyme scheme has been followed in writing the poem The Professor.

The poem The Professor can be classified as a dramatic monologue. In its abrupt beginning, one-way conversation and the presence of a silent listener, The Professor qualifies the basic requirements of a monologue.

The Professor: Line by line Explanation

Line 1 to 4:

The poem begins with the professor’s question: “Remember me?” Then he himself gives the identity that he is Professor Sheth. It is clear from his speech that he is talking to one of his past students whom he taught geography. He goes on to tell his student that he is now retired but his health is still good at this age. He also mentions that his wife is no more.

Line 5 to 9:

The professor is thankful to God that all his children are well-established in their life. One of his sons is a Bank Manager, and another one is a Sales Manager. Both his sons own cars.

Line 10 to 11:

He now talks about his third son who is not doing so well as the other two. He regards him as the ‘black sheep’ of the family. “Black sheep” here means that the son is probably immoral, unprofessional and somewhat reckless. Even then, the professor protects his son by saying that every family generally has such a member.

Line 12 to 13:

Now it is his daughters’ turn. Professor Sheth says that his two daughters Sarala and Tarala are married to good husbands. They are ‘very nice boys’ according to him.

Line 14 to 17:

The professor also proudly declares the unbelievable fact that he has eleven grandchildren. And for the first time, he now gives his student a chance to speak. He asks his student how many issues he has. It seems that the professor is mocking at his student on hearing that he has only three children. He also assures his student that this is not so bad. Nowadays people are more conscious about family planning. And he is not against family planning. He accepts the change that time brings.

Line 18 to 21:

The professor now speaks of the changes that the whole world is facing. He feels that the Indians are also keeping up with the change. We are progressing with time. Old conceptions are going and new ideas are coming. Everything is changing at a fast pace.

Line 22 to 25:

Now the professor says that he rarely goes out, as he is a retire person. This is also due to the old age that he can no longer walk or travel much. But he is proud that he is keeping good health with only occasional aches and pain. He has no diabetes, no blood pressure, and no heart attack.

Line 26 to 28:

The professor continues to speak of his health. He is still keeping his good health because of his good habits in youth. He then asks the student about his health and he is happy to hear that he is keeping it up well.

Line 29 to 30:

Mr. Sheth then talks about his age. He is sixty-nine years old now, and hope to live for a hundred years.

Line 31 to 33:

The professor now reminds the student that he was so thin, comparing him to a stick. But now he (the student) has gained some weight and power. The professor perhaps indicates the social position of the student, as well as his physical growth. And he also mentions that it is a good joke, in case the student doesn’t get it properly.

Line 34 to 36:

In these lines the professor requests his student to visit his residence if he comes this way again in future. He also tries to point out the location of his house, that is, the back side of the house on the opposite side of the road.

Suggested: Indianness revealed in this poem of Nissim Ezekiel

[Now I want to know if you have another explanation for a line. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Please do leave a comment in the below field.]

29 comments on “Summary of The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel

Leave a Comment

Ask a Question

  1. The poem also has a subtle humour in it which is not easy to find out.he talks about family planning but he himself have 11 grand children and he also makes many grammatical error.

  2. this is going to help me in my ICSE exam

  3. Hey jayanta can u pls tell me the meaning of “opposite house’s backside”…thnx

    • Please read the analysis under line 34-36.

  4. I have a question, is Professor Sheth reluctant to adhere to the ‘new’ Indian customs ? It seems as if he wants to follow the old tradition even though it is not mentioned.

    Anyway thanks for the summary

    • A slight inclination to adhere to the customs of his time is quite natural for every human being. But the professor is not prejudiced in that respect, as he says in line 17 ‘I am not against. We have to change with times.’

  5. Thanks a lot it helps me in my exams. I like this poem very much.
    I just want to know the full name of the professer.

    • The Professor’s full name is not mentioned in the poem. Just know it as Professor Seth.

  6. Thanks. Appreciable and a very useful source for my revision for ICSE board exams

    • You’re welcome.

  7. Good explanations…

  8. Stereotyped Indians-
    Comparing owning of cars with wealth and stability in life;
    We, as a cricket loving nation (and hope to score a century)
    The Professor also says a lot of statements that are contradictory to his own
    Rhyming Names of children (Sarala Tarala)
    This is a satrical monologue

    • Yes, you’re right. Thank you Siddharth for all these great additions.

  9. There are lots of mistakes.
    ‘Once i taught you geography’ means the professor only taught his student once and not twice. And many other

    • Hi Subhojit! Thanks for your comment, but I think here ‘once’ means once upon a time. Moreover, things are open to different analysis, when it comes to art and literature. So this is not really a ‘mistake’.
      Still, I would like to know some of your analysis as I have already stated at the end of the post.
      Our readers will be benefited more if you kindly provide your explanations.

  10. This is so nice, it will help in learning and understanding.
    Thank you

    • Welcome and thanks.

  11. best notes for studying

    • Welcome & thanks

  12. If u r coming——opposite house’s backside- this shows the lonliness of the professor.
    Visit please my humble residence also- the word humble shows the way the indians speak. Even if they are very rich and have good money ,they dont show it

    • I’m amazed Princi!! Thank you so much for the great addition.

  13. This poem is vry nice and interesting…… I liked it..

    • Thank you. keep visiting…

  14. This has saved me about one of my teacher.. it’s helpful, could understand the style and the poem clearly… thank you very much. it’s high time for success

    • Welcome and thank you so much. Glad it helped.

  15. This is going to help me in my ICSE exams thank you so much….

    • You’re welcome.

  16. I am retired…good-typical trait of an Indian speaker-rambling nature

    • good addition…thank you so much.

Speak your mind

👍 We love to get comments. Comment Policy