NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Reader Unit 12

Snake Class 10

Unit 12 Snake Exercise Answers & Summary

Summary of "Snake"

One hot afternoon the poet went to the water trough to fill water in a pitcher. Suddenly, he noticed a snake there. He waited for the snake to quench his thirst since the poet thought that he was a second comer. The snake kept his throat upon the stone bottom 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.

The voice of his education said that the golden brown snakes are poisonous and must be killed. However, the poet instinctively liked the snake, treated him like a guest and felt honored that it had come to drink at his water trough. The voices of education inside the poet told him not daring to kill the snake proved that he was a coward.

After drinking enough water, the snake raised its head and started to move away from water trough. As the snake put his head into a crack 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 vanished into the hole in the wall like a lightening.

The poet felt guilty of his mean act. The poet instantly felt sorry for his unrefined act and cursed the voices of education that urged him to kill the snake. The poet compared himself with the ancient mariner who had killed the albatross without any reason. He wished that the snake would come back. He treats the snake as a king in exile to be crowned again. Finally, the poet regrets having missed his opportunity with the lords of life.
<< Previous Chapter 11 : The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Next Chapter 13 : The Dear Departed >>

Unit-12 : Solutions of Questions on Page Number : 124

Q1 :  

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.

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Q2 :  

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.

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Q3 :  

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 :

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Q4 :  

'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


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Q5 :  

'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


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Q6 :  

'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


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Q7 :  

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


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Q8 :  

'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


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Q9 :  

'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


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Q10 :  

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.)


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Q11 :  

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?


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Q12 :  

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


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Q13 :  

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


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Q14 :  

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


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Q15 :  

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


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Q16 :  

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


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Q17 :  

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.


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Q18 :  

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.


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Q19 :  

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.


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Q20 :  

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?


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Q21 :  

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?


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Q22 :  

'I have something to expiate'-Explain.


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Q23 :  

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.


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Q24 :  

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


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Q25 :  

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.


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<< Previous Chapter 11 : The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Next Chapter 13 : The Dear Departed >>

Literature Reader - English : CBSE NCERT Exercise Solutions & Summary for Class 10th for Snake will be available online in PDF book form soon. The solutions are absolutely Free. Soon you will be able to download the solutions.

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