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THE SNAKE AND THE MIRROR
By– Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
(to be answered in about 30 – 40 words each)
Q1. What made the doctor narrate his encounter with a snake?
Ans: The doctor, the narrator and some others happened to discuss snakes. The topic reminded the doctor of his own encounter with a snake and he narrated the incident.
Q2. When did the incident regarding the snake take place?
Ans: The incident took place after the doctor had taken his meal in a restaurant and had returned to his room at about ten o’clock in the night.
Q3. Why did the doctor have to light the kerosene lamp on reaching his room?
Ans: The doctor had to light the kerosene lamp because the room did not have electricity and the night was pitch dark. The doctor had limited money and as a result, he could not afford an any better place.
Q4.What kind of room did the doctor live in?
Ans: The doctor lived in a small, poorly furnished room which did not have any electricity. It was an outer room with one wall looking upon the open yard. The roof was tiled and supported by gables which rested on a beam. The room did not have a ceiling and it was infested with rats.
Q5. Why did the doctor live in a small, poor house?
Ans: The doctor lived in a small, poor house because he had just started his practice and he was not earning much. He could not afford to rent a better and more comfortable accommodation with his meagre earnings.
Q6. What were the doctor’s possessions when he set up his medical practice?
Ans: The doctor had about sixty rupees in his suitcase when he set up his medical practice. In addition, he had some shirts, dhotis and one solitary black coat.
Q7. “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? When and why did the sounds stop? (Textual)
Ans: The doctor heard the sound made by a snake that was trying to reach the floor. He thought it was the squeaking sound made by the rats that infested his room. He heard this sound three times, after short intervals and it stopped when the snake fell down because it had reached the floor.
Q8. Why did the doctor look in the mirror again and again?
Ans: The doctor had developed an admiration for his looks and he wanted to appear even more handsome. Looking into the mirror gave him a chance to assess his looks again and again. He would comb his hair carefully, and his vanity would get a boost.
Q9. Which two ‘important’ and ‘earth-shaking decisions did the doctor make as he looked at his image in the mirror? (Textual)
Ans: The doctor made two decisions after looking at himself in the mirror. The first was that he would shave daily and grow a thin moustache in order to look more handsome as he was still unmarried and was in the reputed medical profession. The second decision was that he would marry a rich and fat lady-doctor.
Q10. What kind of woman did the doctor decide to marry? Why?
Ans: The doctor decided to marry a wealthy woman running a good medical practice. He also wanted her to be fat so that in case he made some stupid mistake, he could run away without being chased and caught by her. However, this wish was made in a lighter vein and was not fulfilled.
Q11. What did the doctor do when the snake landed on his shoulder?
How did the doctor react when he found the snake on his shoulder?
‘I was turned to stone’. When does the doctor say so? Why?
Ans: When the doctor found a snake on his shoulder, he did not shriek, jump, or tremble. He held his breath and became as still as a stone. He knew that the snake would strike him if he made any movement since the hood of the snake was only four inches away from his face.
Q12. When did the doctor feel like a foolish, weak person? Why?
Ans: The doctor felt like a foolish and weak person when, already in the grip of a frightful snake, he realised that there was no medicine in the room for the snake bite, which was a distinct possibility at that moment. He felt helpless and frightened. The vanity and pride he had moments ago had vanished. He smiled feebly at his stupidity and ill-luck.
Q13. How did the doctor feel when the snake coiled itself around his arm?
Ans: When the snake coiled itself around the arm of the doctor, he felt some pain as if his arm was being crushed strongly with a rod made of molten fire. His arm lost all strength and felt very weak.
Q14. What thoughts crossed the doctor’s mind when he saw the snake looking into the mirror?
Ans: When the doctor saw the snake looking into the mirror, he thought that perhaps it too was admiring its beauty or was trying to make some important, actually frivolous decisions like growing a moustache, or using eyeshadow and mascara or wearing a vermilion spot on its forehead.
Q15. How was the doctor relieved of the hold of the snake?
Ans: The snake happened to look at its reflection in the mirror on the table. It uncoiled itself from the arm of the doctor, slipped into his lap and then crawled towards the mirror. Perhaps, it too got fascinated by its looks as the doctor had a while ago.
Q16. What did the doctor do when the snake was absorbed in looking at the mirror?
Ans: As the snake was absorbed in looking at the mirror, the doctor at once availed of the opportunity and holding his breath, rose from the chair and quietly slipped out of the room. From there he passed through the veranda and the yard and ran to finally reach the house of a friend.
Q17. What did the doctor do as soon as he reached his friend’s house? Why?
Ans: Immediately after reaching his friend’s house, the doctor applied oil to his entire body, took a bath and put on fresh clothes. He did so because the snake had slithered over his back, shoulder and arm. He wanted to get rid of his Creepy feeling and any possible ill-effects of a snake’s touch.
Q18. Why did the doctor decide to leave the room?
Ans: The doctor was already unhappy with the poor condition of his room that did not have electricity and was infested with rats. To top it, his encounter with the snake, that could have nearly killed him, made him decide to leave the room.
Q19. What did the doctor and his friends find when they went to remove things from the room?
Ans: The doctor and his friends found that there was nothing in the room except for a dirty vest. All the other things had been stolen away by some thief.
Q20. Did the doctor marry a fat woman as he had wished?
Ans: No, the doctor did not marry a fat woman. On the contrary, his wife was a thin and lean person who could run very fast like a sprinter.
Q21. Why does the doctor remark that the snake was “taken with its own beauty”?
Ans: The doctor remarks that the snake was “taken with its own beauty” because it kept looking into the mirror just like the doctor used to when he would admire his looks while in front of the mirror.