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Chapter 5: The Snake and the Mirror


English
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Chapter 5 – The Snake and the Mirror

Class: IX

Exercise number - 1

Question 1 

Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph (30 − 40 words).

  1. "The sound was familiar one." What sound did the doctor hear? What did he think it was? How many times did he hear it? (Find the places in the text.) When and why did the sounds stop?
  2. What two "important" and "earth-shaking" decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
  3. "I looked into the mirror and smiled," says the doctor. A little later he says, "I forgot my danger and smiled feebly at myself." What is the doctor’s opinion about himself when: (i) he first smiles, and (ii) he smiles again? In what way do his thoughts change in between, and why?

 

Answer 1

  1. There was a movement of something on the beam that caused a familiar sound and the doctor assumed that the sound was made by the movement of rats. He heard the sound thrice and it stopped after the third time. All of a sudden he heard a dull thud as if a rubber tube had fallen on to the ground. When he turned, he saw a snake that wriggled over the back of the chair and landed on his shoulder.

 

  1. The two "important" and "earth-shaking" decisions the doctor took while he was looking into the mirror are as follows. Firstly he decided to shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome. Secondly, the earth-shaking decision was to always keep his attractive smile on his face to look more handsome.

 

  1. The doctor was appreciating his attractive smile when he first smiled in front of the mirror. Then to look more handsome he decided to keep that smile on his face. In that instance his opinion about himself as he was a bachelor and a doctor too. When he smiled feebly at himself, he had forgotten his danger. He was sure that the snake would strike him and that he had no medicines in his room. He was so scared because of the lurking danger and he had an opinion about himself was that a poor, foolish, and stupid doctor. Initially, he assumed that the noise was by rats. Later when the snake was on his shoulders he realised the gravity of the situation.

 

Question 2 

This story about a frightening incident is narrated in a humorous way. What makes it humorous? (Think of the contrasts it presents between dreams and reality. Some of them are listed below.)

  1. (i) The kind of person the doctor is (money, possessions)

(ii) The kind of person he wants to be (appearance, ambition)

  1. (i) The person he wants to marry

(ii) The person he actually marries

  1. (i) His thoughts when he looks into the mirror

(ii) His thoughts when the snake is coiled around his arm

Write short paragraphs on each of these to get your answer.

 

Answer 2

  1. A contrast between dreams and reality is narrated in the story with the added flavour of humour. The doctor’s earnings were meagre as he had just begun his practice. The doctor rented a small room to stay, which did not have electricity. In his suitcase, he had only sixty rupees and apart from a few shirts and dhotis, he had one solitary black coat. The rented house was full of rats. However, his dreams and ambitions were in contrast to his situation.
    As he was a great admirer of beauty, he believed in making himself handsome. He laid great emphasis on the fact that he was unmarried and a doctor by profession. He was too pleased with his appearance and to look more handsome he decided to shave daily and grow a thin moustache. The manner in which he decided that this decision is an ‘important’ one is quite funny. Then he also made an ‘earth-shaking decision’ which is to always keep smiling to look more handsome. Here in this story, the contrast between the kind of person he was and the kind of person he wanted to make the story humorous.

    2. He had thought about the kind of person he would want to marry. He wanted to marry a woman who is a doctor by profession and also had plenty of money with good medical practice because he did not have any of those. He wanted a wife who is fat so that when he makes a mistake his wife would not be able to catch him. But he ended up marrying women who could run like a sprinter, she was a thin and slender person. The contrast between the kind of wife he wanted to marry and wife he married adds to the humour of the story.

    3. When he looked at him in the mirror, he appreciated himself for his good looks. As he was a great admirer of beauty he believed in making himself look handsome. When he closely looked at his face he thought that he would shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look even more handsome. When he looked into the mirror while smiling he decided to keep smiling as he considered his smile very attractive. Later when the snake was coiled around his arm, he turned into a stone. At that moment, he felt the presence of God near him. In his imagination, he tried to write ‘O God’ in bright letters. He felt pain in his left arm where the snake was coiled and he realized he did not even have any medicines in his room if the snake struck him. That moment he thought that he was a poor, foolish, and stupid doctor. His thoughts changed from calling himself an unmarried doctor who looked very handsome to calling himself a poor, foolish, and stupid doctor. All these sequences of events added humour to the story.

 

 

Question 1 

Here are some sentences from the text. Say which of them tell you, that the author: (a) was afraid of the snake, (b) was proud of his appearance, (c) had a sense of humour, (d) was no longer afraid of the snake.

  1. I was turned to stone.
  2. I was no mere image cut in granite.
  3. The arm was beginning to be drained of strength.
  4. I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God’.
  5. I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out.
  6. I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.
  7. I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood.
  8. I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it!
  9. The fellow had such a sense of cleanliness…! The rascal could have taken it and used it after washing it with soap and water.
  10. Was it trying to make an important decision about growing a moustache or using eye shadow and mascara or wearing a vermilion spot on its forehead?

 

Answer 1

  1. Was afraid of the snake
  2. Had a sense of humour
  3. Was afraid of the snake
  4. Was afraid of the snake
  5. Was afraid of the snake
  6. Was proud of his appearance
  7. Was no longer afraid of the snake
  8. Was proud of his appearance
  9. Had a sense of humour
  10. Had a sense of humour

 

Question 2

Can you find the expressions in the story that tell you that the author was frightened? Read the story and complete the following sentences.

  1. I was turned _________________.
  2. I sat there holding _________.
  3. In the light of the lamp I sat there like ____________.

 

Answer 2

  1. I was turned to stone.
  2. I sat there holding my breath.
  3. In the light of the lamp I sat there like a stone image in the flesh.

 

 

Question 3

In the sentences given below some words and expressions are italicised. They variously mean that one

  • is very frightened.
  • is too scared to move.
  • is frightened by something that happens suddenly.
  • makes another feel frightened.

Match the meanings with the words/expressions in italics, and write the appropriate meaning next to the sentence. The first one has been done for you.

  1. I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (very frightened)
  2. I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge.
  3. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him.
  4. You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that.
  5. Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end.
  6. Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors.
  7. The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle.

 

Answer 3

  1. I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (Very frightened)
  2. I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge. (Frightened by something that happens suddenly)
  3. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him. (Very frightened)
  4. You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that. (Frightened by something that happens suddenly)
  5. Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end. (Makes another feel frightened)
  6. Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors. (Too scared to move)
  7. The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle. (Too scared to move)

 

Question 4

Report these questions using if/whether or why/when/where/how/which/what.

Remember the italicised verbs change into the past tense.

  1. Meena asked her friend, "Do you think your teacher will come today?"
  2. David asked his colleague, "Where will you go this summer?"
  3. He asked the little boy, "Why are you studying English?"
  4. She asked me, "When are we going to leave?"
  5. Pran asked me, "Have you finished reading the newspaper?"
  6. Seema asked her, "How long have you lived here?"
  7. Sheila asked the children "Are you ready to do the work?"

 

Answer 4

 

  1. Meena asked her friend if she thought her teacher would come that day.
  2. David asked his colleague where he would go that summer.
  3. He asked the little boy why he was studying English.
  4. She asked me when we were going to leave.
  5. Pran asked me if I had finished reading the newspaper.
  6. Seema asked her how long she had lived there.
  7. Sheila asked the children if they were ready to do the work.

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