Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 10th as Per CBSE Syllabus
Chapter- 12 English Language and Literature
By- D.H. Lawrence
Theme / Central Idea of the Lesson. Analysis of Snake
This poem by D. H. Lawrence gives rise to both horror and fascination at the sight of a snake. The poem Presents a conflict between civilised social education and natural human instincts. D. H. Lawrence developed a Personal philosophy that instincts are superior to the reasoning of the mind. He was essentially a moralist, who believed that man was becoming divorced from natural feelings. He points out in the poem how our feelings of affections are crushed by society and we are misled to the path of ignorance, cruelty and barbarity. But we have no right to deprive others of the right to live. Mexican mythology and Bible treat snakes as evil. So the poem represents the poet’s desire to free himself from sinful behaviour. The poem arouses sympathy for all creations of God and respects their right to exist on a symbolic level the snake could also represent the conflicts in our mind. There is a constant debate between what man wants and what society wants. So the poem represents the instability of man’s mind but champions the fact that it is our instinctive behaviour that generally prompts us to do good.
The poet has used Repetition liberally to highlight certain features and draw attention. Some expressions are constantly repeated for emphasis.
Examples — hot day, hot day, – must wait, must stand and wait, — before me, – earth brown, earth golden, – to feel so honoured, I felt so honoured, – I was afraid, I was most afraid, – slowly, slowly, very slowly
There is a repetition of sounds in words, generally the first sound.
Example – slackness, soft-bellied, – strange, scented shade, – sipped, straight mouth, – mused, moment, -softly, silently, – stone trough, stone bottom
Example – “looked at me vaguely as cattle do” “looked around as God”, “writhed like lightning”, “like a king”
Example – Sipped with his Straight mouth, Softly, Silently, Slackness, Soft-bellied
The snake is a very important part of American mythology and what Lawrence learnt of snakes in Mexico is the opposite of what his education has told him. The poet has been told that snakes are evil and even Bible corroborates that. So snake becomes a symbol of evil. On another symbolic level, the snake could also represent the conflicts in our mind. There is a perpetual debate in our mind about what we want and what society wants. So snake could be taken to represent the instability of our mind.
Important Word-Meanings of difficult words from the lesson- Snake
Carob-tree — a red flowered tree originally in the Mediterranean area • Pitcher — tall, round container with an open top and large handle • Fissure — crack • Flickered — moved • Mused — think about • Bowels — bottom of the earth • Pacified — relaxed • Cowardice — lack of bravery • Perversity — illogical • Hospitality — welcome • Horrid — rough • The convulsed — violent movement • Haste — hurry • Writhed — to twist and turn • Fascination — interest Paltry — worthless • Albatross — an allusion to Coleridge’s “Rime of the ancient mariner”. He wishes for its return. • Exile — banishment • Expiate — make amends
Point wise Summary of the lesson – Snake / Brief note on the Lesson
* A snake visited the poet’s water-trough on a hot afternoon to quench his thirst.
* The poet had also gone there to fill water in a pitcher.
*He waited for the snake since he had come at the trough prior to the poet.
* The snake sipped water into his long body.
*As he was drinking water, the poet was reminded of education and social conventions which said that the golden brown poisonous snake must be killed.
* However the poet instinctively liked the snake, treated him like a guest and did not kill him. The voice of education inside the poet told him that it was the fear of the snake that made him refrain from killing him.
*After drinking water to satisfaction, the snake raised his head, looked around and proceeded to curve around and move away from the water trough.
* As he put his head into the hole to retreat into the earth, the poet was filled with a protest against the idea of the snake withdrawing into his hole.
* The poet put down his pitcher, picked up a log and hurled it at the snake.
* The snake twisted violently and vanished into the hole.
* The poet instantly felt sorry for this act and cursed the voice that had urged him to kill the snake.
* He felt much like the Ancient Mariner who had killed the Albatross for no reason.
* He wished that the snake would come back.
* He regretted having missed the opportunity of knowing one of the lords of life.
- He was guilt-ridden and felt that he had to atone for the measure of his action of throwing a log at the snake.
Stanza 1 and 2: The poem begins about an encounter with a snake on a hot day when the poet was in his pyjamas and was going to fill his pitcher on water trough. The water trough was under the shade of a red flowery tree, which let out a strange kind of scent. The poet who had also gone to the trough to fill water in a pitcher waited for the snake to finish, since he had come to the trough earlier than the poet. The poet is very particular regarding protocol, so he believes that he must wait for his turn to take the water.
Stanza 3: The poet stood there watching the snake which slithered down from the crack in the earthen wall and slipped over the edge of the trough of water. The poet describes the snake as having a soft yellow-brown belly. Poet stands there watching the snake as the snake sips the water that is dripping from the trough.
Stanza 4 and 5: The snake relaxed in between and sipping water from the trough which was entering his mouth straight and into its gums. The snake then lifted his head, looked at the poet ‘vaguely’. flickered his two-forked tongue, stopped for a moment and then drank a little more water. The snake was brown like the earth and he had come out from the burning bottom of the earth. It was a very hot day in Sicily, in the month of July, and Mount Etna, an active volcano, was also sending out fumes, making the day heater.
Education and social conventions make the poet think that the golden brown snakes were poisonous, so they must be killed. Black snakes have considered harmless but brown ones were dangerous. As a brave man, he must undertake the task of killing the snake.
Stanza 6 and 7: The voice in his head provokes him by saying that if he was a man, he would have taken a stick and killed the snake. ‘Finish him off’ is what the voice urged him to do. But the poet confesses that he liked the snake. The poet was glad that the snake paid a visit to his water-trough. The snake went back into the ‘burning bowels of the earth’ without thanking him.
Stanza 8 and 9: The poet questions himself that were it cowardice that kept him from killing the snake? Or was it his obstinacy that urged him to talk to it? The poet contemplates if it was his humility that made him feel so honoured. A voice then challenges him that if he was not afraid, he would have killed the snake. In these lines, the poet confesses that he was truly afraid. He was afraid that he let the dangerous snake go and feelings of honour that the snake sought the poet’s hospitality.
Stanza 10: The snake drank enough water to his satisfaction and then raised his head dreamily and flickered his tongue. He seemed to lick his lips. He looked around like a God and then slowly proceeded to curve around and move away from the water trough. The snake moved so slowly as if he was dreaming or was asleep and again went back to climb the wall with the crack, from where he had come.
Stanza 11: The snake put his head Side the crack and then easing his shoulders, entered deep inside the hole. The poet disliked the retreat of the snake into the dark and deep horrible hole. A sort of protest rose in the poet’s mind and he became quite agitated, the moment the snake turned his back.
Stanza 12: The poet put down his pitcher, picked up a log and hurled it at the snake. The snake twisted violently and with great agility vanished into the hole in the wall. The tail of the snake which had been left also vanished in great haste like lightning. The snake had entered the crack in the wall. All the poet could do was to stare with fascination at the manner in which the snake had disappeared.
Stanza 13: The poet regrets for his foolish act of trying to kill the snake. For a moment, his emotions were different. He really hated himself for such a mean act and cursed the voice of education that had always taught him to kill snakes, without any reason. The poet thinks of the ‘albatross’ and wishes that the snake would visit him again.
Stanza 14: The poet felt that the snake had behaved in a dignified manner like a king and he was also the king of the underworld. The snake was inside the earth, like a king in exile. Now enough was enough and the poet wished to give due respect to the snake that was befitting of a king.
Following is the complete question bank for Snake
Snake Extra Questions and Answers
Extract Based Questions
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water- trough
And depart peacefully, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?
(a) Who is the guest here?
(b) He would depart thanklessly because
(c) Explain ‘burning bowels’.
(a) The guest is the snake.
(b) The humans are in a habit of claiming everything as their possession. The snake did not thank the poet for drinking water from his trough as he considered it to be no one’s possession as water is a natural resource.
(c) A human being came and threatened the original inhabitants of this earth. In order to save their lives, these living beings had to go under the earth to save their lives. They confined themselves in the dark and hot belly of the earth which is referred to burning bowels.
2. And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid,
But even so, honored still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.
(a) Who was the speaker afraid of? Why?
(b) What do we come to know about the speaker’s character from these lines?
(c) Why did he feel honoured?
(a) The speaker was afraid of the golden snake that visited his trough to drink water because, in Sicily, it was believed that the golden brown snakes were venomous.
(b) These lines reflect that the poet is controlled by fear and fascination as he is left with the conflicting emotions between rational and his natural feelings.
(c) The poet felt honoured because the snake chose to visit his trough. Lawrence compares the snake to God, a king, and a lord of life. It almost seems as he feels the snake is above him.
3. In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.
(a) Why had the poet come down?
(b) Why did he decide to wait?
(c) Who was at the trough before him? Why?
(a) The poet came to the trough to fill his pitcher.
(b) He decided to wait as the snake was there to drink water at the trough before the poet. On seeing the beautiful creature, the poet was fascinated and took the snake to be his guest so didn’t want to disturb him. He felt honoured as he considered it to be godly and lord of lords.
(c) The golden brown snake was at the trough before the poet. It came there to drink water as it thought that things of nature are common to all creatures, be it a human or animal. It is human beings who are greedy and self-centred and believe in possessing things.
4. “A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree”
(a) Name the poet of these lines.
(b) Which poetic device has been used in these lines?
(c) Where did the snake come to drink water?
(a) The name of the poet is D. H. Lawrence.
(b) Repetition has been used in these lines ‘hot, hot day’; [alliteration-strange scented shade) has also been used.
(c) The snake came to the water trough to the shade of the carob tree.
5. “In the deep, strange-scented shade of a great dark carob-tree. I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait
For there he was at the trough before me.”
(a) Carob tree is a …………..
(b) What does ‘he’ refer to in the last line?
(c) What does the last line tell us about the poet?
(a) dark red flowered evergreen tree.
(b) ‘He’ refers to the snake.
(c) He thought of obliging the other creature as he was a nature lover.
6. “He reached down from a ‘fissure’ in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,”
(a) The snake had come from …….
(b) Which poetic device in ‘slackness soft-bellied’ has been used?
(c) What does the word ‘fissure’ mean?
(a) a gap in the earth wall.
(c) The word ‘fissure’ means crack.
7. “And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do, and flickered his two-forked tongue
From his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more.”
(a) Explain ‘as drinking cattle do’.
(b) What does the word ‘flicker’ mean?
(c) The expression ‘drank a little more’ suggests that …….
(a) He was drinking water and keeping an eye on the poet just like the cattle do.
(b) Flickered means moved.
(c) He drank water to his satisfaction.
8. “Being earth-brown, earth-golden
From the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with
(a) Describe ‘Burning bowels’.
(b) Describe the snake.
(c) The poetic device used in ‘burning bowels’ is………..
(a) ‘Burning bowels of the earth’ conveys that it was a hot day.
(b) The snake was brown and golden in colour.
9. “The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily, the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold is venomous.
And voices in me said. If you were a man”
(a) Who speaks the above lines?
(b) Who is ‘He’ in the above lines?
(c) Why must ‘He’ be killed?
(a) The poet speaks the above lines.
(b) ‘He’ in the above lines is the snake.
(c) ‘He’ must be killed as he is poisonous.
“The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent,
The gold is venomous.
And voices in me said if you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.”
(a) His ‘education’ said to the poet that ………..
(b) The poisonous snakes in Sicily are……….
(c) ‘If you were a man’ here means …………
(a) he must kill the snake.
(c) if you were a brave man.
10. “And voices in me said if you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.”
(a) The ‘voices in me’ are……….
(b) What were the voices suggesting?
(c) Did the poet ‘finish’ the snake?
(a) the voices of education and conscience.
(b) They were suggesting that he should kill the snake.
(c) No, the poet did not finish the snake.
11. “But I must confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest,
To drink at the water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?”
(a) Who had come as a guest?
(b) How do we know that the guest’s thirst was quenched?
(c) Where would it go?
(a) The snake had come as a guest.
(b) It would depart peaceful, pacified and thankless.
(c) It would go into the burning bowels of the earth.
12. “And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid,
But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.
He drank enough
(a) Who is the speaker?
(b) Why did the speaker feel honoured?
(c) Where did the visitor come from?
(a) The poet is the speaker.
(b) Because the snake chose to visit his trough.
(c) The visitor came from the deep recesses of the earth.
13. “I looked around, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.”
(a) ‘I’ refers to………
(b) ‘I’ looked around for……….
(c) ‘I’ threw the log in order to ………
(a) ‘I’ refers to the poet.
(b) `I’ looked around for something to hit the snake with.
(c) ‘I’ threw the log in order to stop the snake from going inside the dark hole.
14. “And immediately I regretted
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.”
(a) The poet regretted ……..
(b) The last line shows that the poet is ………
(c) `Paltry’ means……..
(a) his act of throwing a log at the snake.
15. “For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.
And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords of life.”
(a) Which literary device does the poet use in the first line?
(b) The snake appears to the poet like……..
(c) “One of the lords of life” refers to ………
(b) a king in exile.
16. “And so I missed my chance with one of the lords of life
And I have something to expiate A pettiness.”
(a) The poet refers to them as one of the lords of life’.
(b) What is the ‘petty’ action that the poet has to expiate for?
(c) The poet blames for his petty action.
(b) The act of throwing a log at it.
(c) the voice of his education
Short Answer Type Questions (30 to 40 words)
Q.1. The poet has a dual attitude towards the snake. Why does the experience conflicting emotions on seeing the snake?
Answer: Right from the beginning, it seems that the poet was all praises for the snake. He liked him and felt honoured as according to him ‘he had come like a guest’. Education and social conventions made him think that the sea snake which is golden-brown in colour is venomous and must be killed. But he was afraid of the snake so he dared not to kill it. His fear prevented him from doing so. In the end, when he saw him escaping into the wall, he hurled a log at him.
Q.2. Why does the poet experience conflicting emotions on seeing the snake?
Answer: On seeing the snake, his voice of education and civilisation told him that yellow snakes are poisonous. But he shaped his thought process and treated him like a guest and a king in exile. But when the snake started going back his rational thinking prompted him to kill the snake. So he hit the snake with a log of wood.
Q.3. ‘I have something to expiate.’ Explain. OR Why does the poet regret following the ‘voice of education’ in the poem, ‘Snake’?
Answer: The act of killing the snake according to the poet was a cowardly act. He wished the snake would come back so that he could know and understand one of the lords of the life. He was full of guilt. He wanted to make amends for his action which he thought he should not have done. He was filled with grief and remorse.
Q.4. Why did D. H. Lawrence treat the snake as a king?
Answer: The snake had come out of the burning bowels. After quenching his thirst it started going back and the poet hit him with a log. The poet instantly felt sorry for his unrefined and contemptible act and cursed the voice of education that had shaped his thought processes and urged him to kill the snake. But the snake retreated into the hole in the wall like a majestic king in exile.
Q.5. How does the poet describe the atmosphere of the day when he saw the snake?
Answer: It was the summer season and the day was hot. A snake came to his water trough to drink water besides the big dark carob-tree, which was strange and scented. The poet had to wait there with his pitcher until the snake left.
Q.6. What did the ‘Voice of Education’ say to the poet of the poem, Snake? What did the poet do then?
Answer: The voice of education told the poet that the snake was poisonous and dangerous. So it must be killed. The poet confessed that he liked the snake. He was glad that the snake had come to his water trough like an honoured guest to drink water. It would then depart peacefully into the earth.
Q.7. Why did D. H. Lawrence, the poet despise himself? How did he feel and describe his action?
Answer: He despised himself for throwing the log of wood on the snake. He felt hurt inwardly for his action and called it paltry, vulgar and mean. He hated himself and his human education. He felt that he had missed an opportunity to honour a king. He regretted his pettiness.
Q.8. Why did the poet allow the snake to finish the drinking water?
Answer: The poet allowed the snake to finish the drinking water because he had held him in great esteem. He treated him like a guest and a king in exile.
Q.9. Why did the narrator want to hit the snake?
Answer: The narrator wanted to hit the snake as his natural instinct told him that snakes are poisonous and dangerous.
Q.10. Explain ‘as one who was drunken’.
Answer: The snake had come out of its fissure to drink water as it was a very hot day. When he had quenched his thirst, he raised his head like a drunken man. He was satisfied.
Q.11. The snake was conscious of the poet’s presence. How do you know?
Answer: No doubt, the snake was conscious of the poet’s presence. As soon as the poet reached the water trough to fill his pitcher, he saw a snake drinking water. The snake also lifted his head as drinking cattle do. This expression of the snake conveys his being conscious of the poet’s presence.
Q.12. The poet seems to be full of admiration and respect for the snake. Pick out expressions that reflect these emotions.
Answer: The expression ‘my snake’, ‘he seemed to me like a king’. ‘He had come like a guest’, ‘honoured still more that he should seek my hospitality’ show that the poet was full of admiration and respect for the snake. He almost regarded him as a majestic God.
Q.13. Why did the poet have to wait near the water trough?
Answer: The poet had to wait near the water trough because he was a second corner. The snake had been the first one there, where the water dripped from the tap in a small clearness and the poet had to wait for his turn because of the snake.
Q.14. Why did the poet try to harm the snake?
Answer: The poet tried to harm the snake because his education told him that in Sicily, gold snakes were venomous and a real man would take a stick and finish it off.
Q.15. What were the conflicting thoughts in the poet’s mind on seeing the snake?
Answer: The poet mind was conflicting between the thought of killing the snake and at the same time, letting it have its fill of water as he would allow any other person to do.
Q.16. How were the poet’s beliefs regarding snakes conditioned by society?
Answer: Society ingrains certain preconceived notions in our mind and due to that we don’t judge situations by instinct — the poet was fascinated by the snake. He appreciated the snake’s majestic and harmless nature but the earlier instincts drilled in him by society force him to strike at the snake. He had been taught to kill snakes.
Q.17. Why did the poet have a sudden urge to hit the snake? Do you think he was justified in trying to hit the snake when its back was turned?
Answer: When the snake’s back is turned, the ‘voices of education’ that were troubling the poet, overtakes him. He hits the snake with a stick which was quite unjustified. The snake had not troubled the poet and one must behave with one’s instincts than preconceived notions.
Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each Value-based questions-
Q.1. Describe the manner in which the snake arrived and departed.
Answer: The snake had come from the crack in the wall made of earth, from the darkness, from the scorching inside portion of the earth. The snake did not feel the threat of the poet’s presence, so its movement is very languid, very relaxed and unhurried. It stretched its long and slack body, drank water with great spells of flavour and enjoyment. It licked its lips, it mused and put his head on the edge of the water trough. Its departure was exactly the opposite—quick, clumsy, abrupt like the speed of lightning.
Q.2. You have read the poem ‘The Snake’ and you understand the dilemma faced by the poet. Suppose you had been there instead of the poet, how would you have behaved? Write a letter to your friend, Prateek, expressing this situation and how did you resolve it.
92, G. P. Road
12th July 2010
I wish to recount a strange experience that I underwent recently. One day as I had come to fill my pitcher with water from an open water-trough, I saw a snake drinking water there. My first instinct was fright and then I felt like killing him because that is what we do generally. Nevertheless, I hid behind the door and watched the snake. The snake was very relaxed, very slack and had a great style of moving about. After drinking water, the snake went back into the hole. I felt happy that I had not hit him. I am happy I followed the voice of my instincts.
Q.3. Write a short note on the literary devices used by the poet. Discuss their effectiveness in the context of the poem.
Answer: D. H. Lawrence has made use of many literary devices liberally. He begins the poem by using some words expressions repeatedly, to reinforce and highlight certain ideas. There is a great use of alliteration in words like ‘slackness’, ‘soft-bellied’, etc. A lot of similes have been used to describe the snake. The snake is compared to ‘cattle’, ‘like a king’, ‘lord’, etc. The snake disappears into the hole with the speed of lightning. Moreover, the snake is symbolic of some strange forces and it represents power and sophistication that impress the poet.
Q.4. What ideas and thoughts come to the poet’s mind when he finds a poisonous snake drinking water at his water trough?
Answer: After reaching his water trough on a very hot day, the poet finds a snake drinking water from his water trough. He waits for the snake to finish drinking water first since he is very particular regarding protocol. The snake was brown in colour. The poet makes a frank confession that he really liked the snake but educational and social conventions make the poet think that the golden brown snakes were poisonous, so they must be killed. The inner instinct of the poet makes him feel honoured that a snake had come to seek his hospitality from the deep recesses of the earth. When the snake started to retreat back into the dark hole, the poet disliked it and hurled a log at the snake. The snake vanished into the hole in great haste. The poet was full of guilt. He really hated himself for such a mean act and cursed the voice of education that had always taught him to kill snakes, without any reason. The poem represents the instability of man’s mind but champions the fact that it is our instinctive behaviour that prompts us to do good.