NCERT Solutions for class 9th English Chapter 5 The Snake and the Mirror

TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS SOLVED

THINKING ABOUT THE TEXT

I. Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph (30–40 words).

  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?
  2. What two ‘‘important’’ and ‘‘earth-shaking’’ decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
  3. ‘‘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.

  1. 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’, and ‘Suddenly there came a dull thud as if a rubber tube has fallen’. The sounds stopped after the appearance of the snake.
  2. The doctor took the following two ‘important’ and ‘earth-shaking’ decisions:
    (a) He would shave daily and grow a thin mustache to look more handsome.
    (b) He would always keep that attractive smile on his face.
  3. 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.

II. 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.

Ans. 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 mustache. 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 in 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.

THINKING ABOUT LANGUAGE

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.

  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 mustache or using eye shadow and mascara or wearing a vermilion spot on its forehead?

Ans. The following sentences tell that the author (a) was afraid of the snake:
(1), (3), (4), (5)
The following sentences tell that he (b) was proud of his appearance: (6), (8) The following sentences tell that (c) he had a sense of humor:
(9), (10)
The following sentences tell that (d) he was no longer afraid of the snake:
(2), (7)

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.

  1. I was turned ____.
  2. I sat there holding ____ .
  3. In the light of the lamp, I sat there like ____ .

Ans.

  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.

III. 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.

Ans.

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

IV. Reported questions

Study these sentences:

  • His friend asked, “Did you see the snake the next day, doctor?” His friend asked the doctor whether/if he had seen the snake the next day.
  • The little girl wondered, “Will I be home before the TV show begins?” The little girl wondered if/whether she would be home before the TV show began.
  • Someone asked, “Why has the thief left the vest behind?” Someone asked why the thief had left the vest behind.

The words if/whether are used to report questions which begin with: do, will, can, have, are etc. These questions can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Questions beginning with why/when/where/how/which/ what are reported using these same words.
The reporting verbs we use in questions with if/whether/ why/when etc. are: ask, inquire and wonder.

Remember that in reported speech,

  • the present tense changes to past tense • here, today, tomorrow, yesterday etc. change to there, that day, the next day, the day before, etc.
  • I/you change to me/him/he, etc., as necessary.

Example:

  • He said to me, “I don’t believe you.” He said that he did not believe me.
  • She said to him, ‘I don’t believe you.’ She told him that she did not believe him.

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?’’

Ans.

  1. Meena asked her friend if he (she) thought his (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.

SPEAKING

Using some of the expressions given above in exercise III, talk about an incident when you were very scared. You may have a competition to decide whose story was the most frightening.

Ans. Do yourself.

DICTATION

The following paragraph is about the Indian Cobra. Read it twice and close your book. Your teacher will then dictate the paragraph to you. Write it down with appropriate punctuation marks.

The Indian cobra is the common name for members of the family of venomous snakes, known for their intimidating looks and deadly bite. Cobras are recognized by the hoods that they flare when angry or disturbed; the hoods are created by the extension of the ribs behind the cobras’ heads. Obviously the best prevention is to avoid getting bitten. This is facilitated by the fact that humans are not the natural prey of any venomous snake. We are a bit large for them to swallow whole and they have no means of chopping us up into bite-size pieces. Nearly all snakebites in humans are the result of a snake defending itself when it feels threatened. In general snakes are shy and will simply leave if you give them a chance.

Ans. The Indian Cobra is the common name for members of the family of venomous snakes, known for their intimidating looks and deadly bite. Cobras are recognized by the hoods that they flare when angry or disturbed; the hoods are created by the extension of the ribs behind the cobra’s heads. Obviously, the best prevention is to avoid getting bitten. This is facilitated by the fact that humans are not the natural prey of any venomous snake. We are a bit large for them to swallow whole and they have no means of chopping us up into bite-size pieces. Nearly all snakebites in humans are the result of a snake defending itself when it feels threatened. In general, snakes are shy and will simply leave if you give them a chance.

WRITING

1. Try to rewrite the story without its humour, merely as a frightening incident. What details or parts of the story would you leave out?

Ans. Do yourself.

2. Read the description given alongside this sketch from a photograph in a newspaper (Times of India, 4 September 1999). Make up a story about what the monkey is thinking, or why it is looking into a mirror. Write a paragraph about it.

Ans. Do yourself.

TRANSLATION

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 writer, Haruki Murakami. Read them and answer the questions given below:

Compare the two translations on the basis of the following points:

  • the tense of narration (past and present tense)
  • short, incomplete sentences
  • sentence length

Which of these translations do you like? Give reasons for your choice.

Ans. Do yourself.

Related Articles: