Thinking about the Text
- Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph (30–40 words).
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: The doctor heard some noise from above when he opened the door. He thought that the sound was of rats.
He heard it four times, including the sound he heard when he opened the door:
“Again I heard that sound from above.” “Again came that noise from above.”
“Suddenly there came a dull thud as if a rubber tube had fallen to the ground…”
The sounds stopped when the snake appeared in front of the doctor.
Question 2. What two “important” and “earth-shaking” decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
Answer: The two important and earth-shaking decisions that the doctor took while he was looking into the mirror are:
- He would shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome.
- He would always keep that attractive smile on his face.
Question 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?
Answer: (i) When the doctor smiled first, he was thinking that his smile was very attractive.
(ii) When he smiled again, he was thinking that he was a poor and stupid doctor.
His thoughts changed from being a handsome doctor to being a stupid doctor between the two situations. His thoughts changed because his life was now in danger.
- 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.)
Question 1. (i) The kind of person the doctor is (money, possessions)
(ii) The kind of person he wants to be (appearance, ambition)
Answer: (i) The doctor is a person whose earnings were meagre. His house was a small rented room. He only had 60 rupees, some shirts, dhotis and a black coat.
(ii) He believes in making himself look handsome. He decides that he would shave daily and grow a thin moustache.
Question 2. (i) The person he wants to marry
(ii) The person he actually marries
Answer: (i) He wants to marry a fat woman doctor who had plenty of money.
(ii) He marries to a thin reedy person with the gift of a sprinter.
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: (i) When he looks into the mirror, he thinks that he has a very attractive smile. He decides to put on that smile on his face always and to shave daily. He seems contented when he looks into the mirror.
(ii) When the snake is coiled around his arm, he keeps sitting there holding his breath. He thinks that he is a poor and stupid doctor. He is terrified by the snake’s presence.
Thinking about Language
- 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 was turned to stone.
- I was no mere image cut in granite.
- The arm was beginning to be drained of strength.
- I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God’.
- I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out.
- I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.
- I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood.
- I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it!
- The fellow had such a sense of cleanliness…! The rascal could have taken it and used it after washing it with soap and water.
- 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.
- Was afraid of the snake: Sentences 1, 3, 4, 5.
- Was proud of his appearance: Sentences 6, 8.
- Had a sense of humour: Sentences 9, 10.
- Was no longer afraid of the snake: Sentence 2, 7.
- 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 was turned _____________.
- I sat there holding ____________________.
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like ____________________________.
- I was turned to stone.
- I sat there holding my breath.
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like a stone image in the flesh.
In the sentences given below some words and expressions are italicized. They are 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.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (very frightened)
- I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge.
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him.
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that.
Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end.
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors.
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits. (very frightened)
- I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge. (too scared to move)
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him. (to be suddenly surprised or frightened by something)
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that. (too scared/ frightened)
- Wait until I tell his story — it will make your hair stand on end. (feel shocked or scared)
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors. (too horrified to move)
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle. (too frightened to move)
- Reported questions
Report these questions using if/whether or why/when/where/how/which/what. Remember the italicised verbs change into the past tense.
- Meena asked her friend, “Do you think your teacher will come today?”
- David asked his colleague, “Where will you go this summer?”
- He asked the little boy, “Why are you studying English?”
- She asked me, “When are we going to leave?”
- Pran asked me, “Have you finished reading the newspaper?”
- Seema asked her, “How long have you lived here?”
- Sheila asked the children, “Are you ready to do the work?”
- Meena asked her friend if he/she thought his/her teacher would come that day.
- David asked his colleague where he would go that summer.
- He asked the little boy why he was studying English.
- She asked me when we were going to leave.
- Pran asked me if I had finished reading the newspaper.
- Seema asked her how long she had lived there.
- Sheila asked the children if they were ready to do the work.
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.
Answer: Students are advised to try answering this question themselves.
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.
Answer: Do it yourself.
Question 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?
Answer: Do it yourself.
Question 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.
Answer: THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL
On a bright day, a monkey was having fun climbing and switching trees. Suddenly he saw a shining piece of mirror on the ground. He jumped down and had a close look at the mirror. At first, he could not understand what it was. After some time, he realised that the thing in his hand showed him his reflection. He looked at his face in the mirror. He removed twigs and dust that was stuck to his face. He made several faces and kept looking at his reflection. He touched his head and rubbed his hair. He preened himself for long. Then he threw the mirror back on the ground and took a leap onto the next tree.
Question 1: 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.
|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.
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 musical climax.
|I’m in the kitchen cooking spaghetti when the woman calls. Another moment 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 ring but 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
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.
Tense of narration:
In translation A, the narration is in past tense.
In translation B, the narration is in simple present tense. Short, incomplete sentences:
Sentences in translation A are long and there are no incomplete sentences. Sentences in translation B are short and we find some incomplete sentences too. Sentence Length:
Sentence length is more in translation A as compared to the translation B.
I like the translation B more as compared to the translation A. This is because translation B is in present tense and thus gives a clearer understanding to the reader. Sentences are crisp and short.
Extract Based Questions (3 marks each)
Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow:
It seemed as if God appreciated that. The snake turned its head. It looked into the mirror and saw its reflection. I do not claim that it was the first snake that ever looked into the mirror. But it was certain » that the snake was looking into the mirror. Was it 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?
- Where did the snake move its head?
- Why did the narrator call it the “first snake”?
- Find a word in the passage that means ‘look at with pleasure and satisfaction’.
- The snake moved its head towards the mirror.
- The narrator calls it the “first snake” because this was the first snake he had seen which enjoyed looking into the mirror.
“I took my friend and one or two others to my room to move my things from there. But we found we had little to carry.”
- Why did narrator want to remove his things ?
- Why was there little to carry ?
- Write the opposite of “friend”.
- The narrator wanted to remove his things as he wanted to leave his house because of the fear. of the snake.
- There was little to carry because thieves had stolen his things.
I didn’t jump. I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out. There was no time to do any such thing. The snake slithered along my shoulder and coiled around my left arm above the elbow. The hood was spread out and its head was hardly three or four inch from my face!
It would not be correct to say merely that I sat there holding my breath I was turned to stone.
- Why did the author not jump, tremble and cry ?
- Did the snake bit the speaker ? What was his reaction ?
- What does the word “tremble” from the above lines mean ?
- The author did not jump, tremble and cry because a snake had fallen on his shoulders.
- No, the snake did not bite the speaker. He said, “Oh!” He had a relief as he was not bitten by the snake.
The snake unwound itself from my arm and slowly slithered into my lap. From there it crept onto the table and moved towards the mirror. Perhaps it wanted to enjoy its reflection at closer quarters.
- Where did the snake settle after uncoiling from the writer’s arm ?
- Why did the snake move towards the mirror ?
- What does the word “slithered” mean ?
- The snake settled in the writer’s lap after uncoiling from the writer’s arm.
- The snake moved towards the mirror to have a closer look of its image.
I did not tremble. I didn’t cry out. There was no time to do any such thing. The snake slithered along my shoulder and coiled around my left arm above the elbow. The hood was spread out and its head was hardly three or four inches from my facet.
- What did the snake do to him (doctor) ?
- How far was death from him ?
- Find a word from th$ passage which means the same as “stretched”.
- The snake coiled around his left arm above the elbow and spread out its hood’
- Death was just three or four inches away from him.
Short Answer Type Questions (2 marks each)
(About 30-40 words each)
What was the doctor thinking while he was seated before the mirror ?
The doctor thought of various medicine he had and if any medicine was good enough to save him if the snake did bite him. He also realized that God had punished him for being so proud and arrogant.
Why did the doctor run from his house ?
Why did the doctor run away to his friend’s house ?
From writer’s arm the snake slithered into his lap, crept onto the table and then moved towards the mirror. The writer revived, got up from the chair and leapt into the yard and ran to his friend’s house to save his life.
How did the doctor show the presence of mind when he encountered the snake ?
The doctor showed great presence of mind on seeing the snake: He neither jumped nor cried out. He sat on the chair holding his breath. His body was still but his mind remained very active.
How did the snake change the writer’s opinion about himself ?
The writer was proud of being a doctor. Coming face-to-face with the snake made him humble. He thought he was only a poor and stupid doctor who should not be proud of his profession.
While looking into the mirror, what important and earth-shaking decisions did the doctor make ?
What were the two important decisions taken by the doctor while looking into the mirror ?
The important decision m^de by the doctor was that he would shave daily and grow a thin moustache, to look more handsome. The earth-shaking decision made by the doctor was that he would always keep that attractive smile on his face.
What did the doctor do on seeing the snake ?
The doctor saw the snake’s reflection in the mirror. He, then, went to have a closer look. He got up from the chair and ran away from the house.
What type of woman did the doctor in the story “The Snake and the Mirror”, want to get married to and why?
The doctor, who had plenty of money and good medical practice, wanted to get married to a woman who was fat. The reason he gave was that if he, the doctor husband ever made any mistake, and tried to run away, she would not be able to catch him and stop him from escaping.
Why did the author of “The Snake and the Mirror” fantasize a fat woman as his wife ?
The author of “The Snake and the Mirror’ fantasizes a fat woman as his wife since she would never be able to catch the doctor on his mistakes. She would not be able to run after him and he would be saved of all kinds of punishments. Thus, the author fantasizes a fat woman as his wife.
Why did the snake leave the doctor’s arm?
The snake left the doctor’s arm because it saw its reflection in the mirror and was fascinated by it and so wanted to enjoy its own reflection by having a closer look. Like his parents even he respects all religions.
What made the doctor utter “Death lurked four inches away” ? (Board Term 1,2012, ELI- 048)
The doctor was under the grip of the snake, and sat motionless as a statue, his body was inactive but mind was completely active. He knew very well that the snake would bite him at the slightest movement. This is what made his utter these words.
Long Answer Type Questions (4 marks each)
(About 80-100 words each)
“Birds of the same feathers flock together” goes the saying. Does the encounter between the snake and the doctor in the story “The Snake and the Mirror” support the saying? Why or why not ?
Yes, the story supports the saying which means that the people of similar habits and tastes find each other. The doctor enjoyed self-appreciation and could not resist the temptation of looking at his reflection in the mirror. He also takes a number of decisions, so as to improve his looks. The snake that coiled itself on the doctor’s arm, kept staring at its reflection in the mirror for a long time, enjoying its beauty and appreciating its form. The snake was so much engrossed in its beauty that it forgot as to why it had come to the author’s house.
Without mirror, the story will lose its charm and reality. Justify.
The story would lose its charm and reality without the mirror because it fascinates both the characters i.e., doctor and the snake. The doctor makes two important decisions – saving daily and growing thin moustaches to make himself more handsome and keeping a smile on the face all the time while looking at himself in the mirror. The snake also feels attracted to look at his face in the mirror and leaves the doctor’s arm. It sits on the table in front of mirror and the doctor finds an opportunity to move away to save himself. Thus, the story does revolve around the mirror and therefore its important.
What are the similarities between the doctor and the snake ?
The doctor and the snake had striking similarities. Both were victims of self-adoration. This is clearly visible in two decisions of the doctor- to shave daily and a grow moustache and also to wear an attractive smile on his face to look handsome. While the snake enjoyed looking at his reflection at closer quarters. It did not move the doctor’s arm and later crept into the table and moved towards the mirror. ,
Justify the title of the story ‘The Snake and the Mirror’.
The story revolves round th#narrator, the snake, and the mirror. The narrator hears some fanjiliar sounds – a dull thud and a snake lands on his shoulder. The doctor is terrified and sits there like a stone. He suddenly feels the presence of the cfeator of the world and death 4-inches away. He forgets danger and smiles feebly. The snake looks into the mirror, moves towards the mirror and wants to enjoy a close reflection in the mirror. Thus the title is justified as the story revolves around the snake and the mirror.
Describe in detail the doctor’s feelings when he saw the snake coiled around his arm ?
The doctor was so engrossed in his day dreaming that he did not realize that a snake had wriggled
over the back of the chair and landed on his shoulders and could round his left arm with its hood spread out. The doctor sat there without moving an inch, he was afraid lest the snake might strike.
He thought of various medicines he had and if any one of them was good enough to save him if the * snake struck him. He realized the presence of God and felt that it was a punishment for being proud and arrogant.
Value Based Question (4 marks)
God has a lot of ways of controlling Our lines. Discuss this in the light of the story ‘The Snake and the Mirror’. .
Our life is definitely in the hands of God. He is fire supreme power in control of our lives. At times we forget this like the young doctor. He was under the false belief that he was the one who would decide what was going to happen in his life. He was standing in front of the mirror with a lot of pride thinking about his future. The snake was a symbol of God’s control over him. It made him realize that he was close to death and not to life. He was not the master of his life.
A LEGEND OF THE NORTHLAND
Thinking about the Poem I.
Question 1. Which country or countries do you think “the Northland” refers to?
Answer: The “Northland” may refer to any of the countries among Greenland, Norway, Russia, Canada, etc.
Question 2. What did Saint Peter ask the old lady for? What was the lady’s reaction?
Answer: Saint Peter asked the old lady for a piece of cake.
She was very selfish and kept reducing the size of the cake as to her it seemed too big to give away.
Question 3. How did he punish her?
Answer: He cursed her to become a woodpecker as a punishment for being so selfish.
Question 4. How does the woodpecker get her food?
Answer: The woodpecker needs to bore all day in the hard, dry wood to get itself some food.
Question 5. Do you think that the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was? What would she have done then?
Answer: I don’t think the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was. She would have given him as large a piece of cake so that she could please him in order to get rewarded.
Question 6. Is this a true story? Which part of this poem do you feel is the most important?
Answer: No, this is not a true story. It is a legend.
The part of the poem that, according to me, is the most important is:
And he said, “You are far too selfish
To dwell in a human form,
To have both food and shelter, And fire to keep you warm.
This shows that we must do go things for humanity as we are capable of doing so in our human form. We should have gratitude for having food, shelter and fire. We should be generous to people.
Question 7. What is a legend? Why is this poem called a legend?
Answer: A legend is a folklore that is believed to be true by tellers and listeners but it has not been proven to have happened. It usually imparts some morals or message.
This poem is called a legend because it also imparts the message of generosity.
Question 8. Write the story of ‘A Legend of the Northland’ in about ten sentences.
Answer: A Legend of the Northland
Once, Saint Peter was feeling very hungry and he asked for alms from an old lady. He asked if she could give him a piece of cake to eat. The lady was very selfish. She kept reducing the size of the cake as she felt that the size of the cake was too big to be given away as alms. At last she did not give him any cake.
Saint Peter grew angry and cursed her to become a woodpecker. He said that from now on, she will have to bore dry, hard wood in order to get food. All her clothes got burnt in the chimney and till this day, woodpeckers bore all day long for food and water.
Question 1. Let’s look at the words at the end of the second and fourth lines, viz., ‘snows’ and ‘clothes’, ‘true’ and ‘you’, ‘below’ and ‘know.’ We find that ‘snows’ rhymes with ‘clothes’, ‘true’ rhymes with ‘you’ and ‘below’ rhymes with ‘know’.
Find more such rhyming words.
Answer: Here are more such rhyming words from the poem:
earth-hearth, done-one, lay-away, flat-that, myself-shelf, faint-saint, form-warm, food-wood, word-bird and same-flame.
Question 2. Go to the local library or talk to older persons in your locality and find legends in your own language. Tell the class these legends.
Answer: Do it yourself.