The Snake and the Mirror

Chapter Summary

The Snake and the Mirror” is a story about self-discovery presented in a humorous shell. The narrator of the story is a foolish and vain young man who realises amid a moment of crisis that he is stupid poor and foolish. The narrator informed the readers that he came to know about this story from a homoeopathic doctor. The story follows the life of an unmarried doctor who indulges in deep thinking on a hot summer night. Suddenly in the middle of the thinking session, the doctor experienced a shock as he saw a snake had fallen on him. He immediately threw away the snake and the snake saw its reflection in the mirror. The doctor then discovered that the snake was more interested in his reflection than the doctor and consequently his life was saved.

The Doctor and the Snake Incidence

What sound did the doctor hear?

The doctor narrated that on a hot summer night after returning home after completing his meal at a restaurant, the doctor hears a familiar sound upon entering his room. According to him, the noise came from above as soon as he opened the door. He also added that he shared the room with the rats; therefore, he thought the noise must be coming from there. The doctor then lighted a kerosene lamp as the house was not electrified. As the sounds of the rats were a common thing for him, the noise he heard before was a familiar one for the doctor.

How many times did the doctor hear the sound?

The doctor previously mentioned that there was regular traffic of rats from the beam so, he experienced some noises regularly from the ceiling. The narrator heard the noise twice, once when entering the room and after wandering a few times, he heard the sound again. He thought that it must have been the rats who are running through the ceiling and making these noises from above.

When and why did the sounds stop?

After the doctor resumed his chain in front of the table, he heard that there were no sounds from the ceiling. Then he heard a sudden thud from the ceiling as if a rubber tube had fallen to the ground. At first, the doctor was convinced that there was nothing to worry about the noise as he is familiar with these kinds of noises. Suddenly, he decided to turn back and look at what happened there. He saw a fat snake wriggling over the back of the chair, eventually landing over his shoulder. That is when he figured out that it was not the rats that were making those sounds; it was the snake all along.

Doctor’s Decisions While looking in the Mirror

The doctor looked closely at his face in the mirror and made an important decision of shaving daily. He further thought that he will eventually grow a thin moustache to look more handsome than usual. After that, the doctor made an earth-shaking decision about keeping an attractive smile always on his face, especially to look more handsome as he is a bachelor and a doctor at the same time. These two decisions were solely dedicated to looking more attractive than usual as he felt that at that point of his life, he should look handsome and attractive all at once.

The doctor first smiled when he looked into the mirror for shaving his beard. He discovered that he had an attractive smile that should be on his face always in order to look handsome. The doctor smiled again but this time feebly and at himself. All of a sudden in the dangerous situation, he discovers that he is a foolish, poor and stupid doctor and nothing else. Amidst that situation, he forgot all his danger and smiled feebly at himself considering his foolishness and stupidity all along. In both cases, the smile may be common for the doctor but the contexts were completely different.

How the doctor’s thoughts changed and why after the Snake Incidence?

Immediately after the snake fell on the doctor’s shoulder, he did not tremble, did not jump, did not cry out loud as he felt there was no time for those things. Instead, he turned to stone by holding his breath and keeping his mind active on the situation. At the slightest moment when the doctor thought the snake was going to bite him, he discovered that despite being a doctor he did not have a single medicine in the room. Therefore, he felt that he was no one but a poor, foolish and stupid doctor. He smiled at his foolishness despite being in a tense situation and that is when his thoughts regarding his own existence and appearance changed.

This story about a frightening incident is narrated in a humorous way. What makes it humorous?

The story initially outlined a dangerous situation when a snake fell into a doctor’s shoulder when he was thinking deeply about his life. The events of the story took an unexpected turn when the snake saw its reflection in the mirror. The doctor realized that all of a sudden the snake was looking continuously at its reflection instead of attacking him or doing any harm. Then the doctor found out that the snake was more interested in enjoying its own reflection than attacking him. The doctor then ran till he reached his friend’s house for cleaning his body. After he returned home, he found out that a thief took most of the doctor’s things and left behind his dirty vest only. The story described a series of funny events, but in the shell of fun, it presents the complex facts of human lives also.


Q1. How did the doctor feel immediately after the snake fell on him?

Ans. After the snake fell into his shoulder, the doctor suddenly felt surrounded by darkness despite the presence of the lamp in the room. Even he felt the presence of the almighty creator in the universe.

Q2. What was the difference between the first smile and the second smile of the doctor?

Ans. The first time, he smiled after making an important decision about his appearance and felt confident regarding his looks and image. The second time, he smiled feebly even in the dangerous situation, considering his stupidity and foolishness all along.

Q3. What were the doctor’s thoughts when he discovered that the thief has left his diary vest behind?

Ans. The doctor humorously thought that the thief must have a sense of cleanliness as he left the dirty vest behind and took most of the things. He also added that the thief could have taken the vest and washed it with soap and water for using it further.

Updated on: 28-Dec-2022

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