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What I Require from Life (Essay 11) Exercises


 by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane


Understanding the text

a. How does the writer distinguish between a peaceful age and a heroic age?

Answer: The writer distinguishes between a peaceful age and a heroic age by making a comparison between these ages. He refers to the time of his childhood as a peaceful age whereas his youth age as a heroic age. In his childhood it was peaceful but when he becomes youth, the first world war broke out so he engaged himself in a heroic age of war.

b. Why does the writer want more freedom of speech than most people?

Answer: The writer wants more freedom of speech than most people because he wants to write freely against the people who are very poisonous. He wants to write against all those capitalists who have made disorder in every sector of the society.

c. According to the writer, what are the four general human needs?

Answer: According to the writer, the four human needs are:

1. Work

2. Freedom of speech

3. Health and,

4. Friendship. 

d. What is the difference between desire and demand according to the writer?

Answer: According to the writer, the difference between desire and demand is that desire is something that he wishes to have as an extra advantage which may not be affordable whereas demand is something that he wishes or wants to have as compulsion which must be affordable. In this essay, the writer desires various things but not demands.

e. Why does the writer demand security?

Answer: The writer demands security because the security of life is very important aspect than other aspects at the time of war. The security of life is the primary aspect whereas other requirements are secondary. During the war, the writer demands the security of life first. If life is secured, anything can be achieved of fulfilled. 

Reference to the context:

a. “The satisfaction of adventure is something much more solid than a thrill.”

Answer: Here in this line, the writer believes that adventure is not only about emotions, but also about satisfaction in performing a creative activity. He wants to say us about the satisfaction of adventurous tasks. According to him, the adventurous tasks are related to thrill. Apart from the thrill, adventurous tasks provide us with extreme satisfaction. Among thrill and satisfaction, the satisfaction which we get through an adventurous task is something more solid than a thrill.

b. “I want the workers to see the fruit of their own work not in profits for others, but in their own and their friends’ well-being.”

Answer: Here in this line, as a socialist, the writer wants the workers to do effort for their own benefit. They can get the fruits of their labour but not to enrich the owner of the company. The workers get benefit from the wages for their own economic prosperity. In that situation, everybody can see a fine working condition of the workers. He desires to see all the workers at work with their profit and their friends’ wellbeing. According to him, all the workers must find fruits according to their devotion on work.

c. Why do you think the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers?

Answer: I think the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers because he wants to make his arguments and ideas strong. Such references provide clear concept with specific details about the paragraphs which he has presented.

d. Discuss the essay in terms of its language, purpose, subject, point of view and mode of writing. 

Answer: This essay "What I Require from Life" has been written by a British-Indian scientist J.B.S. Haldane. Here in this essay, the writer has used his simple and lucid language to put forward his ideas related to socialism. He has presented various requirements of people from their lives. The requirements are listed in two different categories in the form of demand and desire. At the beginning it looks like personal essay but later on it talks about political issue. In this essay the writer demands equality as well as freedom for all working-class people in workplaces. As a socialist, his main resolution is to lift the condition of working-class people. He has presented his opinions against capitalism He wants to see equality for all the people in every sector.

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