Ques1. When did the incident of the encounter with the snake take place?
Ans. It was around 10 O’clock at a hot summer night. He had just returned home after taking his meals at a restaurant.
Ques2. What kind of a room did the doctor live in?
Ans. The doctor lived in a small rented room which did not have any electricity. 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.
Ques3. 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 house with his meagre earnings.
Ques4. 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 started his medical practice. In addition, he had some
shirts, dhotis and one solitary black coat.
Ques5. “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?
Ans. The doctor heard a scuttling sound, which he thought to be of the rats. He heard this sound three times, after
short intervals and it stopped when the snake fell on the back of the chair.
Ques6. Why did the doctor look into the mirror again and again?
Ans. The doctor was much bothered about his looks and he wanted to look more handsome. He would comb his hair
carefully and his vanity would get a boost.
Ques7. “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: (a) he first smiles, and (b) he smiles again?
In what way do his thoughts change in between, and why?
Ans. (a) When the doctor first smiles, he has an inflated opinion of himself, admiring his looks and profession. (b) In
the second instance, the doctor smiles at his foolishness and helplessness. His thoughts change after his encounter
with the snake. “from being a proud doctor he moves on to accept his stupidity.
Q. Which two ‘important’ and ‘earth-shaking decisions did the doctor make as he looked at his image in the
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. The second decision was that he would marry a rich and fat
Q. What kind of a woman did the doctor decide to marry? Why?
Ans. He decided to marry a woman doctor who had plenty of money and a good medical practice. He also decided
that he would marry a fat lady so that she would not be able to run after him if he wanted to run away.
Q. How did the snake land on the doctor’s chair?
Ans. The snake fell from the ceiling of the house. At first it fell flat on the floor with a thud. In no time it wriggled and
reached for the narrator’s chair. As the narrator turned back, the snake landed on him. Next, the snake slithered along
his shoulder and coiled around his left arm above the elbow. To make matters worse, the snake spread its hood out
and its head was hardly three or four inches from his face.
Q. What did the doctor do when the snake landed on his shoulder?
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.
Q. When did the doctor feel like a foolish, weak person? Why?
Ans. The doctor felt like a foolish and weak person when he found himself in the grip of a poisonous 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.
Q. 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.
Q. Why was the narrator not willing to pray to God?
Ans. The narrator was not a believer in God yet at that crucial time he felt the great presence of the creator of this
world and this universe. He didn’t know what a prayer he would send to God and how God would take his prayer.
Finally he decided against praying to God because he could not predict God’s reaction to his prayer.
Q. What did the doctor think 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.
Q. How was the doctor relieved of the hold of the snake?
Ans. As the snake saw its reflection in the mirror on the table. It uncoiled itself from the arm of the doctor and crawled
towards the mirror.
Q. 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 rose from the chair and quietly came out
of the room. Finally He went to the house of one of his friends and spent the night there.
Q. 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.
Q. What did the doctor and his friends find when he came back to his room?
Ans. Next morning, he came back to his room. He was shocked to find that there was nothing left in his room. Some
thief had taken away most of his things.
Q. 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.
Q. 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 as he
Q. Describe the doctor’s rented residence.
Ans. The doctor lived in a rented room. It was an outer room with one wall facing the open yard. It had a tiled roof
with long supporting gables that rested on the beam over the wall. There was no ceiling. The roof of the house was a
settlement of rats so it could be said that the doctor shared the room with the rats. There was a regular traffic of rats to
and from the beam. Outside there was a veranda. Among the few pieces of furniture, there was his bed, a chair, a table
with his medical books, usual accessories, a kerosene lamp and a mirror on it.
Q. How did the doctor lose his pride after the snake landed on his shoulder?
Ans. The doctor had a very high opinion of himself regarding both his appearance and profession. He was conscious of
his looks and wanted to look even more handsome. He repeatedly looked at himself in the mirror to admire his
handsomeness. He wanted to be attractive to women because he was an eligible bachelor. He was also proud of being
a doctor and was arrogant because of his professional qualification.
But a short encounter with a snake, a full-blooded cobra, cured him of his pride. When the snake reached his shoulder
and coiled itself around his arm, the doctor lost all arrogance and was reminded of the existence of God. Face to face
with death, he realized what a weak and foolish man he was. When he recalled that there were no medicines in his
room to cure him of a snake-bite, he humbly and meekly regarded himself to be a stupid and helpless person. Thus,
the encounter with the snake transformed the doctor from a vain and foolish person into a humble and God-fearing
Q. Do you think both the doctor and the snake had some common qualities? Why/Why not?
Ans. The behaviour of the doctor and the snake did have certain similarities. Both of them were enamoured by their
reflection in the mirror and stood looking longingly at it. However, the similarity ended at this aspect of their respective
behaviour since the doctor could not ascertain confidently the reason behind the snake getting charmed by its own
image. The doctor was certainly compelled by his vanity to repeatedly look at his image. So, when he notices the snake
looking into the mirror, he thinks that perhaps it too was admiring its beauty or was trying to make some ‘important’
decisions just like him. But these too were as frivolous as the doctor’s decision to shave daily and keep a thin
Just like the doctor’s obsession with his looks landed him in trouble, the snake too seemed to be “taken with its
beauty.” It releases its victim to have a better look at itself in the mirror. Thus both the doctor and the snake display
Q. “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 he smiles first and then later? In what way
do his thoughts change in between, and why?
Ans. The doctor rated his looks quite high and smiled at his image whenever he looked into the large mirror on his
table. He tells the listeners that the first time he looked into the mirror and smiled, his opinion about himself was
marked by self-adulation. He thought that he was very handsome and deserved to stay well-groomed. However, these
thoughts changed by the time he tells the listeners that he forgot his danger and smiled feebly at himself. On the
second occasion, his opinion about himself was marked by humility. By then he had realised that he had been vain,
foolish and stupid. His encounter with the deadly snake had exposed his shortcomings to him. In spite of being a
doctor he did not have any medicines in his room even for an emergency like a snake-bite. His good looks became
immaterial when he came face to face with death and the only thoughts that came to his mind then were about God.
The feeble smile indicated his acceptance of the folly and vanity that had so far governed his life.