The Snake And The Mirror Question & Answers Class 9 English: Get here question & answers of the textbook exercise of the lesson ‘The Snake And The Mirror’ given in the class 9 NCERT book ‘Beehive’. Click here for more materials for class 9.
Thinking about the Text
I. Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph (30–40 words).
1. “The sound was a 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?
Ans. The doctor heard a familiar noise in his room, a sound he associated with rats. He believed it was caused by rats moving around. He mentions hearing the sound twice: once when he first enters the room, and later when he’s seated and reading the Materia Medica. The sounds ceased when the snake incident occurred, startling both the doctor and the rats into silence.
2. What two “important” and “earth-shaking” decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
Ans. While looking into the mirror, the doctor made two significant decisions. First, he decided to shave daily and grow a thin moustache to appear more handsome. Secondly, he resolved to wear an attractive smile always to enhance his appearance, particularly since he was a bachelor and a doctor.
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?
Ans. Doctor’s Changing Opinion about Himself:
(i) When he first smiles into the mirror, the doctor views himself as an attractive, young, and eligible bachelor, trying to make himself look more appealing.
(ii) As the snake coils around his arm, his thoughts change drastically. He forgets about his appearance, focusing entirely on the life-threatening situation. His smile fades as he faces imminent danger. In between these moments, his thoughts shift from vanity to stark fear due to the unexpected presence of the snake.
II. 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)
2. (i) The person he wants to marry
(ii) The person he actually marries
3. (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.
1. Contrasts in the Doctor’s Character: (i) The Kind of Person He Is: The doctor is portrayed as a modest, financially struggling individual with minimal possessions. (ii) The Kind of Person He Wants to Be: He aspires to be handsome and well-groomed, emphasizing his ambition and desire for a better life.
2. Contrasts in Marriage Aspirations: (i) The Person He Wants to Marry: He initially dreams of marrying a wealthy, fat woman doctor. (ii) The Person He Actually Marries: He humorously states that his wife, in reality, is a thin and athletic person, contrary to his initial fantasies.
3. Contrasts in Self-Perception: (i) Thoughts When He Looks into the Mirror: He sees himself as a handsome, confident bachelor, concerned about his appearance. (ii) Thoughts When the Snake Coils Around His Arm: His self-image fades away, replaced by fear and panic as he faces a life-threatening situation.
Humour in the Story: The humour in the story stems from the stark contrasts between the doctor’s aspirations and the reality he faces. His dreams of wealth, appearance, and relationships are comically juxtaposed with the mundane and perilous reality of his situation. The unexpected intrusion of a snake, his vain thoughts, and the ultimate anticlimactic resolution (the snake’s fascination with its reflection and the thief’s peculiar cleanliness) create a humorous tone in the narrative. The story’s irony lies in the doctor’s initial concerns and his eventual absurd encounters, making it a tale filled with wit and amusement.
Thinking about Language
I. 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.
- I was turned to stone.
- I was no mere image cut in granite.
- The arm was beginning to be drained of strength.
- I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God’.
- I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out.
- I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.
- I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood.
- I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it!
- The fellow had such a sense of cleanliness…! The rascal could have taken it and used it after washing it with soap and water.
- 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.
1. “I was turned to stone.” – (a) was afraid of the snake
2. “I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.” – (b) was proud of his appearance
3. “The arm was beginning to be drained of strength.” – (a) was afraid of the snake
4. “I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God’.” – (a) was afraid of the snake
5. “I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out.” – (a) was afraid of the snake:
6. “I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.” – (b) was proud of his appearance:
7. “I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood.” – (d) was no longer afraid of the snake:
8. “I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it!” – (c) had a sense of humour:
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.” – (c) had a sense of humour:
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.” – (c) had a sense of humour:
II. Expressions used to show fear
Can you find the expressions in the story that tell you that the author was frightened? Read the story and complete the following sentences.
- I was turned ___________
- I sat there holding ___________
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like ___________
- I was turned to stone.
- I sat there holding my breath.
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like a stone image in the flesh.
III. In the sentences given below some words and expressions are italicised. They are 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.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (very frightened)
- I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge.
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him.
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that.
- Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end.
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors.
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (very frightened)
- I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge. (frightened by something that happens suddenly)
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him. (frightened by something that happens suddenly)
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that. (makes another feel frightened)
- Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end. (is very frightened)
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors. (is too scared to move)
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle. (is too scared to move)
IV. Reported questions
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?”
- Meena asked her friend whether they thought their teacher would come that day.
- David asked his colleague where they would go that summer.
- He asked the little boy why he was studying English.
- She asked me when we were going to leave.
- Pran asked me whether I had finished reading the newspaper.
- Seema asked her how long she had lived there.
- Sheila asked the children if they were ready to do the work.
1. Try to rewrite the story without its humour, merely as a frightening incident. What details or parts of the story would you leave out?
Details of the doctor’s humorous thoughts and the snake’s fascination with its reflection would be omitted, focusing solely on the frightening encounter and the doctor’s desperate struggle to survive.
In the stifling heat of a summer night, a young doctor returned to his small, non-electrified room after a meal. The room, infested with rats, offered little comfort. As he tried to rest, he heard a familiar noise, a sound he associated with the rats that shared his space. When the noise persisted, he lit a kerosene lamp and examined the room, opening windows to let in the night air.
Unable to sleep, he looked into the mirror, contemplating his appearance, unaware of the terror about to unfold. Suddenly, the room was filled with a menacing presence – a full-blooded cobra coiled around his arm. Frozen with fear, he felt the crushing weight of the snake, paralyzing him.
In that terrifying moment, the doctor realized the fragility of life. He contemplated the presence of God, imagining writing desperate pleas for help. The snake’s presence drained him of strength, and he feared the imminent strike that could end his life.
His thoughts shifted from vanity to stark fear as he faced the deadly creature. The snake, seemingly captivated by its own reflection, released him, allowing the doctor to escape unharmed. The incident left him shaken, and he fled to safety.
2. Read the description given alongside this sketch from a photograph in a newspaper (Times of India, 4 September 1999). Make up a story about what the monkey is thinking, or why it is looking into a mirror. Write a paragraph about it.
THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL
A monkey preens itself using a piece
of mirror, in the Delhi ridge.
(‘To preen oneself’ means to spend a lot of
time making oneself look attractive, and
then admiring one’s appearance. The word
is used in disapproval.)
Once upon a time, in the Delhi ridge, there lived a monkey named Raja. Raja was known for his good looks and was always admired by other animals in the forest. One day, while Raja was wandering in the forest, he stumbled upon a piece of mirror. He picked it up and looked at his reflection. He was amazed to see how handsome he looked. He started admiring himself and spent hours looking at his reflection. Other animals in the forest noticed Raja’s behaviour and started making fun of him. They called him vain and said that he was wasting his time. Raja was hurt by their comments and decided to leave the forest. He went to the city and started performing on the streets. People were amazed by his good looks and started giving him money. Raja became very popular and was known as “The Fairest of Them All”. However, he soon realized that he missed his life in the forest and his friends. He went back to the forest and apologized to his friends. They forgave him and welcomed him back. Raja learned that true beauty comes from within and that it is important to be humble and kind to others.
In translating a story from one language to another, a translator must keep the content intact. However, the language and the style differ in different translations of the same text.
Here are two translations of the opening paragraphs of a novel by the Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami. Read them and answer the questions given below.
Compare the two translations on the basis of the following points.
- the tense of narration (past and present tense)
- short, incomplete sentences
- sentence length
Which of these translations do you like? Give reasons for your choice.
Comparison of Translations:
1. Tense of Narration:
- Translation A: Past tense (“When the phone rang,” “I was in the kitchen”).
- Translation B: Present tense (“I’m in the kitchen cooking spaghetti,” “I hear the telephone ring”).
2. Short, Incomplete Sentences:
- Translation A: Uses longer, complete sentences.
- Translation B: Employs short, incomplete sentences for a more conversational tone.
3. Sentence Length:
- Translation A: Longer, more complex sentences.
- Translation B: Shorter, simpler sentences, creating a quicker pace.
I prefer Translation B. The use of present tense and shorter, incomplete sentences creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy. It feels like I am inside the character’s head, experiencing the moment with them. The simplicity of the language and the conversational tone make it more engaging and relatable. Additionally, the shorter sentences and present tense contribute to a faster-paced narrative, capturing the urgency and excitement of the moment. Translation B effectively conveys the atmosphere and emotion of the scene, making it my preferred choice.