CBSE Class 9 English Chapter 5 The Snake And The Mirror- Download The Free PDF Notes
The Snake and the Mirror is a fascinating chapter of the Class 9 English textbook Beehive.
The writer tells us a story about a doctor. The snake and the mirror are the two main characteristics of this story. The story begins when one day, a snake fell on the doctor. This chapter contains some difficult words and should be read in a focused manner. Students can supplement their reading with the PDF Notes provided by GharPeShiksha. The study material available at the website of GharPeShiksha has helped numerous students to enhance their understanding of this chapter and its teachings. The material contains the vocabulary of the chapter with meaning, textbook exercise questions with solutions, previous year questions with solutions, important questions that may come in the exam, teachings of the chapter, model answer sheet, and many more things all compiled by expert teachers. You can download the PDFs through the website of GharPeShiksha.
A Legend of the Northland
A Legend of the Northland is a poem written by Phoebe Cary. It is the fifth poem of class 9 English textbook Behive. It is a long poem and narrates an old lady who angered Saint Peter because of her greed. You must prepare the poem carefully to get full marks in this chapter. The best way to understand what the poem tries to tell its readers is to study it from the PDF notes provided by GharPeShiksha. The PDF Notes contain a summary of the poem in easy language, vocabulary with meaning, textbook exercise questions with solutions, previous year questions with solutions, important questions that may come in the exam, literary devices used in the poem, rhyming scheme analysis, and many more things all compiled by expert teachers of GharPeShiksha. This study material is available at the website of GharPeShiksha only. Download here the pdf notes file of Class 9 English Chapter 5 The Snake And The Mirror.
The Snake and the Mirror
Doctor Sees his Face in the Mirror The narrator, who is a doctor, explains his
experience with a snake. It was a hot summer night when he used to live in a
room in the village. When he came to his room, it was about ten o’clock. The doctor
was sitting in a chair in his house at night wondering how to look more handsome
as he watched his face in a mirror. He decided that he would shave daily, keep a
thin moustache and always have a smile on his face. These measures would make
him look smarter and more handsome. He heard a noise. There were many rats in
the room that constantly made noise. Snake Falls on the Doctor
Suddenly, a snake fell on the doctor’s shoulder from above. It may have come
into the house due to the presence of many rats there. The snake coiled round
doctor’s left arm above the elbow. The snake’s hood was only three to four
inches away from the doctor’s face. The doctor turned absolutely still in the face
of danger so close by. He prayed to God and then realised that he was a foolish
and stupid doctor as he did not have any medicine for snakebite with him. Thus, he
would surely die if the snake bit him. Doctor’s Escape from the Snake
When the snake turned its hood, it saw its reflection in the mirror on the table. The
snake unwound (freed) itself from the doctor’s arm and crept over to the table to
have a close look at itself. The doctor, thus , got an opportunity to
escape from the house. He ran very fast and went to a friend’s house. After
bathing there, he spent the night at the friend’s place.
Doctor Sifts from the House The next morning, the narrator went to
his room with his friend, as he had decided to vacate the house immediately,
he went to collect his belongings. However, he found that some thieves had
stolen most of his belongings, leaving behind only one of the doctor’s dirty vests.
Question 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?
Answer : When the doctor entered his house, he heard the familiar sound of rats
scurrying (running) through the beams of the roof. The statement that he and the
rats were housemates gives an impression the house was full of rats. The
doctor was used to the noises made by the rats. So, he was not bothered about
the noise. The doctor heard the sound of the rats three times. When, a snake fell
from the roof, the sounds stopped because the snake must have come there
to catch its prey, the rats.
Question 2 : What two ‘important’ and earth-shaking’ decisions did the
doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
Answer : The first important and earthshaking (significant) decision taken by
the doctor was to shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look handsome. The
second decision was to smile the way he was smiling when looking at the mirror.
He thought that he should look handsome because he was a bachelor and a doctor,
so he was one of the most eligible bachelors.
Question 3 : “I looked into the mirror and smiles”, 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?
Answer : When he first smiled, the doctor was smiling to appreciate his youthful
beauty. This happens to most of the people when they are in the age group
that the doctor was. When he smiles again, the snake has coiled (wrapped)
round his arm, so he is smiling feebly as if to laugh at his helplessness, foolishness
and stupidity. His thoughts changed because of the encounter (chance
meeting) with 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
drams and reality. Some of them are listed below.)
Question 1 : i) The kind of person the doctor is (money, possessions)
ii) The kind of person the wants to be
Answer : The story shows a contrast between dreams and reality in a
humorous manner. The doctor’s earnings are very less because he has just started
his career. He was living in a small rented unelectrified (without electricity) room.
He had few clothes and very little money. Even his room was full of rats. However,
his dreams and ambition were totally in contrast to this. He was a great admirer of
beauty and believed in looking handsome. He emphasises that he is a very eligible
bachelor, as he was an unmarried doctor. He was also pleased with his appearance .
He decided to shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome. The
manner in which he decided that this was an important decision is funny. Later on,
he decided to keep smiling always to look more handsome. This contrast between
the kind of person he was and the kind of person he wanted to be makes the story
Question 2 : i) The person he wants to marry
ii) The person he actually marries
Answer : The doctor thought that he
would get married to a woman doctor who should have plenty of money and a
good medical practice. She would be fat, so that if made a silly mistake and needed
to run away she should not be able to run after him and catch him. However, the
woman he actually married was slender (thin) who could run like a sprinter
(racer). This contrast between the kind of wife he wanted and the kind of wife he
actually got adds to the humour of the story.
Question 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 : When the doctor looked into the mirror, he appreciated his good looks
and wanted to look even more handsome by shaving daily and growing a thin
moustache. When he smiled he looked even more attractive and so he decided to
keep smiling. However, when the snake is coiled around his arm, he turned into a
stone. He felt that God was very close to him at his time. He realised that if the
snake bit him, he did not have any medicines in his house to save himself.
That was when he thought that he was a poor, foolish and stupid doctor. This
shows how his thoughts changed. This sequence (order) of events also adds
humour to the story.
Thinking about Langauge (Page 61)
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) I was turned to stone.
ii) I was no mere image cut in granite.
iii) The arms was beginning to be drained of strength.
iv) I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the
words, ‘O God’.
v) I didn’t tremble, I didn’t cry out.
vi) I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.
vii) I was suddenly a man of flesh and
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) I was turned …………………..
ii) I sat there holding …………………….
iii) In the light of the lamp, I sat there
i) to stone
ii) my breath
iii) a stone image in the flesh
III. In the sentences given below some
word and expressions are italicised.
They variously mean that one
is very frightened
is too scared to move
is frightened by something that
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
i) I knew a man who was following me, I
was scared out of my wits. (very
ii) I got a fright when I realised how close
I was to the cliff edge
iii) He nearly jumped out of his skin when
he saw the bull coming towards him
iv) You really gave me a fright when you
crept up behind me like that
v) Wait until I tell his story – it will make
your hair stand on end.
vi) Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his
vii) The boy hid behind the door, not
moving a muscle
ii) frightened by something that happens
iii) very frightened
iv) frightened by something that happens
v) makes another feel frightened
vi) too scared to move
vii) too scared to move
The text you read is a translation of a
story by a well-known Malayalam
writer, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.
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 write, Haruki Murakami.
Read them and answer the questions
|Translation A||Translation B|
|When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a
potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM
broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving
Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking
pasta.calls . Another woman until the spaghetti is done;
there I am whistling the prelude to Rossini’s La Gazza
Ladra along with the FM radio. Perfect spaghetti
cooking music!I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the
spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio
Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its
|I’m in the kitchen cooking spaghetti when the woman
calls . Another woman until the spaghetti is done;
there I am whistling the prelude to Rossini’s La
Gazza Ladra along with the FM radio. Perfect spaghetti cooking music!
I hear the telephone ringbut tell myself, ignore it. Let the
spaghetti finish cooking. It’s almost done, and
besides, Claudio Abbado and the London
Symphony Orchestra are coming to a crescendo.
Compare the two translations on the basis
of the following points:
i) the tense of narration (past and present
ii) short, incomplete sentences
iii) sentence length
Which of these translations do you like?
Give reasons for your choice.
i) Translation A is in the past tense while
translation B is in the present tense.
ii) Translation A has complete sentences
while translation B has short, incomplete
iii) Translation A has long sentences
while translation B has short sentences.
I prefer translation B because it is more
direct and uses powerful language with a
lot of imagery. It uses more personal
language which is the way it should be in
stories and novels.
Short Questions (2 Marks)
Question 1 : What were the two important decisions taken by the
doctor to look more handsome?
Answer : The two important decisions taken by the doctor while looking into the
mirror to look more handsome were:
i) He would shave daily and grow an thin moustache.
ii) He would always keep the attractive smile on his face.
These two decisions were taken because he was a bachelor and wanted himself to
Question 2 : How did the doctor show presence of mind when he
encountered the snake?
Answer : The doctor showed great presence of him when he encountered the
snake. He neither jumped nor cried out. He sat still on the chair like a statue,
holding his breath. His body was still but his mind remained very active.
Question 3 : What was the first important decision taken by the doctor
in ‘The Snake and the Mirror’ and why?
Answer : The first important decision taken by the doctor was that he would
shave daily and grow a thin moustache because he wanted to look more
handsome as an eligible bachelor and a respectable professional, i.e., doctor.
Question 4 : What made the doctor think “Death lurked four inches
Answer : The doctor thought that death lurked four inches away because the
snake had coiled around his upper arm and the snake’s head was hardly four
inches from his face. The snake could bite him at any moment and he could surely
die if the snake bit him.
Question 5 : Why did the snake leave the doctor’s arm?
Answer : The snake left the doctor’s arm because it saw its reflection in the mirror,
was fascinated (attracted) by it and wanted to enjoy its reflection by going
closer to the mirror. In this way, the snake freed the arms of the doctor.
Question 6 : After the encounter with the snake, why did the narrator want
to remove his things from his room?
Why did he find that he had little to carry?
Answer : The narrator wanted to remove his things from his room and run away to
his friend’s house because he was afraid of the snake coming there again.
He found that he had little to carry because some thief had stolen most of his
belongings in the night when he ran away to the house of his friend.
Question 7 : How did the snake change the writer’s opinion about himself?
Answer : Before the encounter with the snake, the writer was proud of being a
doctor. Coming face to face with the snake made him humble.
He realised he was only a poor stupid doctor. He was not sure which medicine
was to be taken in case he was bit by a snake.
Long Questions (8 Marks)
Question 1 : In the story ‘The Snake and the Mirror’ a frightening incident
is narrated in a humorous way. What makes it humorous?
Answer : The story ‘The Snake and the Mirror’ is a mixed double of horror and
comic. There is a horror of encounter with a snake and the comic was in the way it
was narrated as well as the way thief did their work. The frightening incident is
humorous because the doctor could think in a humorous way even when the snake
was coiled round his arm. He thought of himself a poor, foolish and stupid doctor
because he had no medicines for treatment of snakebite, which would be
needed if the snake bit him. Being a doctor, he must know and keep it with
him but unfortunately he had not. He was compelled with the situation and could do
nothing but watch. When the snake was looking at its image in the mirror, the
doctor thought that it was admiring its own beauty. 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? The doctor even wondered
what sex the snake was, male or female? The doctor was near the danger as the
snake was coiled round him but he was down with the humour and narrated the
episode very comically. This makes the narration humorous.
Question 2 : Describe in detail the doctor’s feelings when he saw the
snake coiled round his arm?
Answer : It was night and the doctor had returned after having his dinner. He came
to his place and made his bed. But, before going to sleep, he wanted to look himself
in the adjoining (nearby) mirror. He sat in front of the mirror and was looking at
himself in an admiring way. He was about to take some important decisions when a
snake fell down there and coiled itself around the arm of the doctor. When the
doctor saw the snake coiled around his arm, he simply froze and sat holding his
breath. He felt then the presence of God. He felt that he had said something which
God did not like and God was angry with him. He realised that he was just a poor,
foolish and stupid doctor. He forgot his danger and smiled feebly at himself. He
felt that God appreciated this because the snake uncoiled itself from his arm and
went nearer to the mirror to have a clever look at its own image in the mirror.
Question 3 : Justify the title of the story ‘The Snake and the Mirror’.
Answer : The title of the story is the sole indicator of its outline, theme and plot.
The narrator of the story has centered around the snake and the mirror. Though,
most part of the story is around the snake and the mirror, yet the story revolves
around the narrator. Further, the narrator is saved from potential danger posed by
the snake due to the snake noticing its image in the mirror and uncoiling itself
from the narrator’s arm to move closer to the mirror. Thus, the mirror also plays an
important part in the story by attracting the snake towards itself, thus allowing the
narrator to escape from the room and avoid the snake. Due to the snake, the
narrator escaped from his place and all his belongings were stolen by thieves,
making the story comical further. Thus, the title is justified.
Question 4 : What are the similarities between the doctor and the snake?
What traits of their characters are revealed here? How are these traits
Answer : When one reads the whole story then one can find what are the
similarities between the doctor and the snake. There are striking similarities
between the doctor and the snake. Both are victims of self-adoration. The doctor
takes two ‘earth-shaking’ decisions on seeing his image in the mirror – to shave
daily and to grow a thin moustache, besides wearing an attractive smile on his
face to look handsome. After all, he was a doctor and on top of it, a bachelor. The
smile and proper grooming will be suitable in getting a suitable match. On
the other hand, the snake was enjoying its reflection in the mirror at closer quarters
by uncoiling itself from the doctor’s arm and moving closer to the mirror. Both
doctor and snake revealed the characters like vanity and self-realisation. These
traits are helpful in self-evaluation and take necessary measures to improve
ourselves. These things reflect what one is and what one wishes to be. These traits
are helpful in grooming one’s nature and personality.
Question 5 : Without the mirror, the story will lose its charm and reality.
Answer : Every story has a protagonist (main character) which leads the story
and keeps the readers intact. It anchors the theme and the characters as well. In
this story, mirror is the protagonist which does the functions very well. Had it not
been there in the story then it would seem tasteless and without charm. The
mirror fascinates both the doctor and the snake. While looking in the mirror, the
doctor makes two important decisions, i.e. shaving daily and growing a thin
moustache to make himself more handsome and keeping a smile on the face
all the time to look better. The snake feels attracted to look at itself in the mirror
and leaves the doctor’s arms to sit on the table in front of mirror. The doctor finds
and opportunity to move away to save himself. Thus, without the mirror, the
story will lose its charm and reality.