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 Question 1:

Snakes generate both horror and fascination. Do you agree? Why? Why not?
 

Answer :


Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, one sample solution has been provided for your reference.

I agree to the fact that snakes generate both horror and fascination. Snakes are legless reptiles that glide their way through water and ground. They are carnivorous and thus, can be very dangerous. They can prey on objects larger than their heads which makes snakes a highly risky reptile to encounter. Of course it is because of these traits that people find it fascinating to keep snakes as their pet. They are lovely to look at because of their colours and designs on their bodies. Patterns on different species of snakes symbolise beauty.


Question 2:

 Read what W.W.E. Ross feels when he sees a snake and fill in the table given below:

The Snake Trying

The snake trying

to escape the pursuing stick,

with sudden curvings of thin

long body. How beautiful

and graceful are his shapes!

He glides through the water away

from the stroke. O let him go

over the water

into the reeds to hide

without hurt. Small and green

he is harmless even to children.

Along the sand

he lay until observed

and chased away, and now

he vanishes in the ripples

among the green slim reeds.
What is the snake doing?  
Words to describe the snake  
Poet’s plea
      

Answer :


What is the snake doing?  
Words to describe the snake  
Poet’s plea

The snake is trying to glide its way escaping from the stroke of the pursuing stick. Finally, he vanishes with its swift moves, into the reeds.  
Curvings of thin long body, beautiful, graceful are his shapes, glides through, small and green, vanishes in the ripples among the green slim reeds.  
The poet plea is not to kill the snake because it is beautiful, graceful and harmless to all.


PAGE  127


Question 4:

 Given below is the summary of the poem Snake in short paragraphs. However they are jumbled. Work in pairs and put the summary into a logical sequence.

(a) After drinking water to satisfaction, the snake raised his head dreamily and flickered his forked tongue and licked his lips. The snake looked around like a God and then slowly proceeded to curve round and move away from the water trough.

(b) The poet felt much like the ancient mariner who had killed the albatross for no reason. He wishes that the snake would come back. He thinks of the snake as a king in exile who has to be crowned again. He also regrets having missed his opportunity of knowing and understanding one of the lords of life.

(c) As the snake 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 with great alacrity vanished into the hole in the wall.

(d) A snake visited the poet's water trough on a hot afternoon to quench his thirst. The poet who had also gone to the trough to fill water in a pitcher waited for the snake since he had come at the trough prior to the poet.

(e) The voices of education inside the poet tell him that it was the fear for the snake that made him refrain from killing him. However, the poet feels that though he was quite afraid of the snake, he did actually feel honored that a snake had come to seek his hospitality from the deep recesses of the earth.

(f) He is guilt-ridden and feels that he has to atone for the meanness of his action of throwing a log at the snake.

(g) The snake rested his throat upon the stone bottom and sipped the water into his slack long body. After drinking water, he raised his head just like cattle do and flashed his forked tongue, thought for a moment and then bent down to drink some more water.

(h) Education and social conventions make the poet think that the golden brown poisonous snake must be killed and that as a brave man he must undertake the task of killing the snake.

(i) The poet instantly felt sorry for his unrefined and contemptible act and cursed the voices of education and civilization that had shaped his thought processes and urged him to kill the snake.

(j) However, the poet instinctively likes the snake, treats him like a guest and feels honoured that it had come to drink at his water trough. The poet questions himself and wonders whether his not daring to kill the snake proved that he was a coward and whether his desire to talk to the snake reflected his perversity.
 

Answer :


(d) A snake visited the poet's water trough on a hot afternoon to quench his thirst. The poet who had also gone to the trough to fill water in a pitcher waited for the snake since he had come at the trough prior to the poet.

(g) The snake rested his throat upon the stone bottom and sipped the water into his slack long body. After drinking water, he raised his head just like cattle do and flashed his forked tongue, thought for a moment and then bent down to drink some more water.

(a) After drinking water to satisfaction, the snake raised his head dreamily and flickered his forked tongue and licked his lips. The snake looked around like a God and then slowly proceeded to curve round and move away from the water trough.

(h) Education and social conventions make the poet think that the golden brown poisonous snake must be killed and that as a brave man he must undertake the task of killing the snake.

(e) The voices of education inside the poet tell him that it was the fear for the snake that made him refrain from killing him. However, the poet feels that though he was quite afraid of the snake, he did actually feel honoured that a snake had come to seek his hospitality from the deep recesses of the earth.

(j) However, the poet instinctively likes the snake, treats him like a guest and feels honoured that it had come to drink at his water trough. The poet questions himself and wonders whether his not daring to kill the snake proved that he was a coward and whether his desire to talk to the snake reflected his perversity.

(c) As the snake 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 with great alacrity vanished into the hole in the wall.

(f) He is guilt-ridden and feels that he has to atone for the meanness of his action of throwing a log at the snake.

(i) The poet instantly felt sorry for his unrefined and contemptible act and cursed the voices of education and civilization that had shaped his thought processes and urged him to kill the snake.

(b) The poet felt much like the ancient mariner who had killed the albatross for no reason. He wishes that the snake would come back. He thinks of the snake as a king in exile who has to be crowned again. He also regrets having missed his opportunity of knowing and understanding one of the lords of life.


PAGE  128

Question 5-(1):

'he lifted his head from his drinking as cattle do' - The poet wants to convey that the snake

(a) is domesticated

(b) is innocent

(c) is as harmless as cattle

(d) drinks water just like cattle
 

Answer :


 (d) drinks water just like cattle


Question 5-(2):

'Sicilian July', 'Etna smoking' and 'burning bowels of the earth' are images that convey that

(a) there are snakes in volcanic areas

(b) the poet lived in a hot area

(c) it was a really hot day when the snake came

(d) Sicilian snakes are dangerous
 

Answer :


 (c) it was a really hot day when the snake came



Question 5-(3):

'A sort of horror, a sort of protest overcame me' - The poet is filled with protest because

(a) he doesn't want to let the snake remain alive

(b) he fears the snake

(c) he doesn't want the snake to recede into darkness

(d) he wants to kill it so that it doesn't return
 

Answer :


 (c) he doesn't want the snake to recede into darkness



Question 5-(4):

 In the line 'And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther' the phrase snake easing' his shoulders means

(a) loosening its shoulders

(b) slipping in with majestic grace

(c) moving slowly

(d) moving fast
 

Answer :


 (b) slipping in with majestic grace



Question 5-(5):

'He seemed to me like a king in exile…' The poet refers to the snake as such to emphasize that the snake

(a) is like a king enduring banishment

(b) Is like a king due to be crowned

(c) Is a majestic king who came for a while on earth

(d) is a majestic creature forced to go into exile by man
 

Answer :


 (d) is a majestic creature forced to go into exile by man



Question 5-(6):

'I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act' -The poet is referring to

(a) the snake going into the dreadful hole

(b) the accursed modern education

(c) the act of throwing a log of wood at the snake

(d) the act of killing the snake
 

Answer :


 (c) the act of throwing a log of wood at the snake


PAGE  130

Question 6-(a):

 Why does the poet decide to stand and wait till the snake has finished drinking?

 What does this tell you about the poet?

 (Notice that he uses 'someone' instead of 'something' for the snake.)
 

Answer :


 The poet decides to stand and wait till the snake has finished drinking because he was second to come over there. The snake was the first comer. Unless the snake was gone, he couldn’t go to the trough


Question 6-(b):

In stanza 2 and 3, the poet gives a vivid description of the snake by using suggestive expressions. What picture of the snake do you form on the basis of this description?
 

Answer :


From the above mentioned stanzas, the picture of the snake emerges very beautiful and clear.

 The snake is yellow-brown or golden-brown in colour. It weakly trails his soft belly over the edge of the stone trough. It seems tired and thirsty and drank water slowly. Just like a cattle, it raises its head and then drinks some more water. It has a two-forked tongue, which it flickered and mused while drinking.
   



Question 6-(c):

 How does the poet describe the day and the atmosphere when he saw the snake?
 

Answer :


 The poet described the day and atmosphere to be hot. It is clear through phrases used in the poem like: ‘On a hot, hot day’, ‘in the deep, strange scented shade…’, ‘burning bowels of the earth’, ‘day of Sicilian July, when Etna smoking’.


Question 6-(d):

 What does the poet want to convey by saying that the snake emerges from the 'burning bowels of the earth'?
 

Answer :


 By this the poet wants to convey that there is intense heat inside the hole of the earth as it is burning.


Question 6-(e):

 Do you think the snake was conscious of the poet's presence? How do you know?
 

Answer :


 I think the snake was not conscious of the poet’s presence as if it were, it couldn’t have behaved majestically and as if it were in a dream. It looked around like a god but not at the poet, though it looked in the direction where the poet stood.



Question 6-(f):

 How do we know that the snake's thirst was satiated? Pick out the expressions that convey this.
 

Answer :


 The snake’s thirst was satiated as it looked dreamily after drinking the water. The expressions used to justify the same are: ‘and flickered his two-forked tongue’, ‘mused a moment’, ‘he drank enough’, ‘and lifted his head dreamily.’


Question 6-(g):

The poet has a dual attitude towards the snake. Why does he experience conflicting emotions on seeing the snake?
 

Answer :


The poet has a dual attitude towards the snake. It is because he is caught in between by human instinct and rational thought. Human instinct makes him appreciate the snake and love animals. However, the voice of human education or rational thought says that snakes are poisonous and are to be killed.



Question 6-(h):

The poet is filled with horror and protest when the snake prepares to retreat and bury itself in the 'horrid black', 'dreadful' hole. In the light of this statement, bring out the irony of his act of throwing a log at the snake.
 

Answer :


The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the poet likes the snake for its beauty and considered it like a king and a guest, yet he hit the snake with a log. Moreover, though he did not want it to go, his act forces the snake to leave immediately.



Question 6-(i):

 The poet seems to be full of admiration and respect for the snake. He almost regards him like a majestic God. Pick out at least four expressions from the poem that reflect these emotions.
 

Answer :


 The expressions are: ‘and flickered his two-forked tongue/ from his lips’, ‘and mused a moment’, ‘But must I confess, I liked him’, ‘How glad I was…’, ‘like a guest in quiet’, ‘I stared with fascination’, ‘Like a king in exile.’



Question 6-(j):

 What is the difference between the snake's movement at the beginning of the poem and later when the poet strikes it with a log of wood? You may use relevant vocabulary from the poem to highlight the difference.
 

Answer :


 We find the snake thirsty at the beginning of the poem. It draws its slack body over the edge of the water-trough leisurely and slowly. But when the poet strikes a log at it, it ‘convulses and writhes’ like lightening



Question 6-(k):

 The poet experiences feelings of self-derision, guilt and regret after hitting the snake. Pick out expressions that suggest this. Why does he feel like this?
 

Answer :


 The expressions are ‘A sort of horror, a sort of protest’, ‘I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!’, ‘I despised myself’, ‘to expiate’, ‘A pettiness’.

 The poet feels this way because he feel regret and realizes that he shouldn’t have thrown a log to kill the snake.



Question 6-(l):

You have already read Coleridge's poem The Ancient Mariner in which an albatross is killed by the mariner. Why does the poet make an allusion to the albatross?
 

Answer :


The poet makes an allusion to the albatross because it was shot by the Ancient mariner, although nobody wanted it to die. However, later on board the ship, everybody agreed on it being a right thing to do. Later, the mariners wanted it back as it brought with it, the wind to steer the ship. Likewise, the poet in Snake wants the snake back to accept his hospitality like an honored guest.


Question 6-(m):

 'I have something to expiate'-Explain.
 

Answer :


 It means that the poet has something to regret for ever. This is that he shouldn’t have thrown a log to kill the snake.



Question 7:

 The encounter with the snake and the dual response of the poet to his presence at the water trough reflect a conflict between civilized social education and natural human instincts. The poet writes a diary entry highlighting how he was torn between the two voices. Write his diary.
 

Answer :


Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, a sample beginning of the diary entry has been provided for your reference.

 I had a terrible incident in my life, today. I did something for which I shall regret throughout my life. A snake visited my water trough today in the afternoon. It was extremely hot and he had come to quench his thirst. Knowing this, I fought against my consciousness and threw a log at him. I know it was a very selfish and cruel thing to do and my indecisive mind couldn’t focus well. It expected hospitality but my mind was in a state of dilemma. I was torn between rational thought and conscience…(to be continued)



Question 8:

 To what effect has the poet used these devices? How has it added to your understanding of the subject of the poem? You may record your understanding of snake characteristics under the following headings:

 (a) Sound

 (b) Movement

 (c) Shape
 

Answer :


 By using alliteration, sibilance and onomatopoeia, D.H.Lawrence has succeeded in creating a kind of visual and sensory effect on us. In line ‘And trailed his yellow- brown slackness, soft-bellied down,’ we feel the onomatopoeia effect in ‘trailed’, ‘slackness’, and ‘soft- bellied down.’ We almost hear both the sound and the movement of the snake. Equally in line ‘And flickered his two- forked tongue,’ /f/ sound (sibilance) and onomatopoeic effect in ‘flickered’ lend a visual and sensory movement to the snake.

 In the line ‘Softly drank through his straight/ gum, into this slack long body/ Silently’, the /s/ sound conveys the snake’s feature of the snake through sibilance. In doing so, the poet has been successful in bringing out the image of the snake through the sound, movement and shape. Another example of onomatopoeic word ‘slowly’ and /s/ sound indicates the use of sibilance, conveys this effect: ‘And slowly turned his head,/ And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice a dream’.



Question 9:

 The poet has also used both repetition and similes in the poem. For example-'must wait, must stand and wait' (repetition) and 'looked at me vaguely as cattle do' (simile). Pick out examples of both and make a list of them in your notebooks.

 Give reasons why the poet uses these literary devices.
 

Answer :


Repetition:

Hot, hot day;

Earth brown, earth golden;

Was it cowardice, was it perversity, was it humility;

I was afraid, I was most afraid;

And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream.

Simile:

As drinking/ cattle do;

And lifted around like a god;

And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice a dream;

And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken;

and I, like a second comer;

like a king in exile;

he had come like a guest;

writhed like lightening.

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