The Snake and the Mirror – NCERT Solutions

Q. ‘‘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 the sound of rats. The sound was a familiar one. He heard this sound four times. The phrases are ‘Again I heard that sound from above’, ‘Again came that noise from above’, ‘Suddenly there came a dull thud as if a rubber tube has fallen’. The sounds stopped after the appearance of the snake.

Q. What two ‘‘important’’ and ‘‘earth-shaking’’ decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?

Ans. The doctor took the following two ‘important’ and ‘earth shaking’ decisions:

  1. He would shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome.
  2. He would always keep that attractive smile on his face.

Q. ‘‘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. The doctor thought that he had a good smile when he first smiled. But when he smiled a little later, he laughed at his destiny. His life was in danger. His thoughts got changed because of the snake. He was quite near to death.

Q. 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.

Answer

  1. (i) The doctor is a poor man. He does not have suffice money. His house is unelectrified. It is a small rented room which has many rats. He has about sixty rupees in his suitcase. Along with some shirts and dhotis, he also possesses one solitary black coat.
    (ii) He wants to be a handsome person. So he decides to shave daily and grow a thin moustache. He also wishes to accumulate wealth.
  2. (i) He intends to marry a woman doctor who has plenty of money and a good medical practice. He wishes to have a fat wife so that she cannot run after him and catch him.
    (ii) The person he actually marries is a thin reedy person with the gift of a sprinter.
  3. (i) He thinks that he should look smart. So he decides to shave daily and retain his smile. He is happy and contented when he looks into the mirror.
    (ii) When the snake coiled around his left arm above the elbow, he kept sitting there holding his breath. He was turned to stone. He was afraid of the snake.

Q. Here are some sentences from the text. Say which of them tell you, that the author: (1) was afraid of the snake, (2) was proud of his appearance, (3) had a sense of humour, (4) 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?

Ans. The following sentences tell that the author

  1. was afraid of the snake: (1), (3), (4), (5)
  2. was proud of his appearance: (6), (8)
  3. he had a sense of humour: (9), (10)
  4. he was no longer afraid of the snake: (2), (7)

Q. 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

  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.

Q. 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

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

Q. 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

  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 they 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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