The Snake and the Mirror – Summary


The Snake and the Mirror‘ is a story about a doctor, who had only recently commenced his practice. He lived in a small rented room which was an out house. It had two windows and a tiled roof. The tiles were supported by gables which rested on the beam and there was no electricity. The room was infested with rats.

One hot summer night, he had his meals at the restaurant and returned home. He lighted the kerosene lamp, took off his coat and shirt and opened the two windows. He settled on the chair and took out a medical book to read. There was a large mirror on the table on which stood a lamp. Since it was too hot to sleep, and he had nothing better to do, he sat down in front of the mirror, admiring himself, admiring his looks and smile and planning what he should do to look more presentable. Gradually, his thoughts shifted from self-admiration to planning of his marriage. He thought that he would marry a rich doctor having a good practice and that he would choose a fat lady as his wife so that she would not be able to run and catch him.

He was so engrossed in his day dreaming that he did not give much importance to the sudden silence. The rats had stopped scampering and there was a sound of something falling behind him. But he was slow to react. By the time he turned around to have a look, a snake had wriggled over the back of the chair and landed on his shoulders and coiled round his left arm above the elbow. It was a dangerous cobra and its hood spread out, hardly three inches from his face.

The doctor sat there like a stone statue, afraid to move lest the snake may strike back. He thought of various medicines he had and if any was good enough to save him if the snake did bite him.

In this moment of fear of death, he realized the presence of God. God had punished him for being too proud and arrogant. He realized that he was but a mere human, a poor man, and had nothing much to boast about. The moment he accepted his true worth, God appeared, pleased and the snake left him of its own free will and sat on the table in front of the mirror.

The doctor got up silently and rushed out of the door. Next morning when he came back, all his belongings had been pilfered but for his dirty vest which was too dirty even for the thief.

The story clearly highlights the fact that one should not be proud of oneself because whatever he has, is a gift of God. Without his benign support you are nothing. The moment he realized this, the God recalled the snake, who left without hurting him.

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