NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 12 - Snake

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Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 124

Solution 1

This answer depends on each student's views and opinions.

A few guidelines:

Snakes bring out different reactions in people. To some they are frightening; they shake and tremble with fear at the very mention of the word 'snake'. Others are fascinated by these beautiful reptiles.

  • People both fear and revere snakes.


  • Snake Gods are found in Indian folk stories as well as in literature.


  • Nag Panchami is celebrated to worship the snake god in India and Nepal.


  • In certain religions, snakes represent sin and the evil one.


  • Snakes are legless creatures that crawl around and live in different habitats.


  • India is home to a variety of snakes; some harmless, some deadly poisonous.


  • While most are non venomous and their bites only cause injury, others cause immediate death.


  • Snakes have fascinating colours and patterns on their scales.


  • Snakes have different methods of killing their prey; some inject venom while the others suffocate their prey and swallow them whole.


  • Snakes shed or molt their skin by rubbing against rough surfaces.


Solution 2

What is the snake doing? 

Words to describe the snake. 

Poet's plea 


The snake is trying to escape from someone's stick that is following it. It glides along the water and disappears among the slim green reeds.



Curving of its thin long body, beautiful and graceful are his shapes, glides through the water, small and green, harmless,



The poet's plea is to let the snake go without hurting it as it is harmless even to children.





Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 127

Solution 4

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.


 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.

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.


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.

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.

c) As the snake put his head into the hole to retreat into the earth, the poet was filled with 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.

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 knowign and understanding one of the lords of life.

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.

Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 128

Solution 5(1)

d) drinks water just like cattle

Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 129

Solution 5(2)

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

Solution 5(3)

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

Solution 5(4)

b) slipping in with majestic grace

Solution 5(5)

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

Solution 5(6)

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

Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 130

Solution 6a

As the poet went down to his water trough, he unexpectedly encountered a snake who had come to quench its thirst. He was so fascinated with the snake that he treated it like a guest and decided not to disturb it. He waited for his turn instead of disturbing the snake who reached the trough before him.

The poet uses the words 'someone' instead of 'something' because he considers the snake to be a visitor. Instead of objectifying it, the poet personifies the snake. This shows that the poet was a kind man who had respect for the living.

Solution 6b

It was a yellowish brown snake and it was soft-bellied. It rested its throat against the stone bottom and with a straight mouth sipped water that was dripping down from the tap, silently. The water softly flowed through its gums into its long slack body.

Solution 6c

The poet says it was a hot day when he encountered the snake. It was the month of July and the Sicilian volcano Etna was emanating smoke. He says that the bowels of the earth itself were burning. The water trough was the only bit of relief lying in the shade of the great dark carob tree.

Solution 6d

By saying that the snake emerges from the 'burning bowels of the earth', the poet wishes to convey that the snake has come out of the hole to beat the heat. The poet wants to emphasise on the hotness of that day.

Solution 6e

This answer depends on each student's views and opinions.

A few guidelines:

Yes, I think the snake may have been conscious of the poet's presence.  While the snake was drinking water from the water trough, he lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, and looked at the poet vaguely, flicked its tongue, mused a moment and then continued drinking.


Solution 6f

The snake may have quenched its thirst.

The expressions that convey that his thirst was satiated are "drank enough", "lifted his head dreamily, as one who has drunken" and "as if thrice a dream".

Solution 6g

The poet showcases dual attitude towards the snake. Though instinctively he is in awe of the snake and is captivated its majestic presence, he is vary of it since he had been educated about the dangers of golden venomous snakes. On one hand he muses about his fascination for it, on the other hand his inner voice taunts him about his inability to kill it. He thus has conflicting feelings about the snake.

Solution 6h

When the poet first saw the snake, he was fascinated by it. Being a patient man, he allowed it to drink water from the trough. Even though his education told him that it was venomous, his natural instinct made him treat the snake like a guest. Torn between fear and fascination, the moment he saw the snake retreating into the black hole, he was angry and threw a log at it. His deep admiration for the snake combined with his act of throwing a log at it makes a case for irony in the poem.

Solution 6i

Some  expressions from the poem that reflect the poets emotions of admiration and respect towards the snake are:

  • And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.

  • But must I confess how I liked him

  • …he had come like a guest in quiet

  • …to feel so honoured

  • That he should seek my hospitality

  • And looked around like a god, unseeing

  • I stared with fascination

  • For he seemed to me again like a king

  • Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld

  • Now due to be crowned again

  • …with one of the lords of life


Solution 6j

In the beginning the snake slithered down slowly from the wall, trailed its body majestically over the edge and rested its throat upon the stone bottom. It drank water slowly and silently, looked at the poet vaguely, convinced that it would not be harmed. Its movements were as if it was in a dream and when it had finished, it slowly climbed down the bank. Even its movements while getting into the hole were slow, almost as if it was easing its shoulders into it.

When the poet struck it with the log however, his body convulsed in an undignified haste. It twisted and turned like lightening and disappeared into the black hole.

Solution 6k

The expressions that show us that the poet experienced feelings of self-derision, guilt and regret after hitting the snake are

"I regretted it",


"I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!"


"I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education",


I thought of the albatross And I wished he would come back, my snake"


"he seemed to me like a king"


"I missed my chance with one of the lords of life. And I have something to expiate A pettiness".

The poet has these feelings because initially he was fascinated with the snake. Although he knew that these snakes were venomous, he treated it like a guest who had honoured him by visiting his water- trough. However, when he saw the snake retreating into the black hole, he was angry and threw a log at it. When the snake recoiled with pain and hastily made its exit, he was filled with remorse at his cowardly act. He despised himself for listening to the voice of his education and attacking the harmless creature. He wanted to make amends for his callous behavior but he had lost his chance to do so.


Solution 6l

Initially the poet treated the snake like a guest and did not disturb it while it drank water from the trough. However, when he saw the snake retreating he was angry and threw a log at it. When the snake recoiled in pain and hastily made its exit, he was filled with remorse at his cowardly act and immediately regretted having attacked the harmless creature. He wanted to make amends for his heartless behavior, but he felt that he had lost his chance to do so.

He then makes an allusion to the 'albatross' in the ancient mariner. The albatross, a harmless bird had been a friend and companion to all the sailors. Yet the mariner killed the bird for no reason. The moment he committed this cruel act he regretted it and was filled with remorse for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, he was never able to make amends for what he had done.

Solution 6m

'I have something to expiate' means the person has done something that has caused him to suffer from guilt and he wants to make amends for it.

Solution 7

This answer depends on each student's views and opinion.

A few guidelines:


Dear diary,

Today I met an unexpected visitor at my water trough-a snake. My encounter with this reptile filled me with both fear and fascination. This in turn led to an inner conflict within me;a conflict between what I have been taught and what I feel. How did I behave? How did I respond??

Let me explain.

The conflict:

Civilized social education:

  • A yellow gold snake is venomous and dangerous.


  • The rational thing to do - to take a stick and kill it immediately.


Natural human instincts:

  • The snake represents the beauty of nature


  • Nature is awe inspiring.


  •  The snake is harmless.


Finally- education wins the conflict-hits the snake-it departs hurt- experiences feelings of remorse / regret / pain / sadness /guilt.


Solution 8

The poet has used poetic devices like onomatopoeia, sibilance and alliteration to create various sounds and shapes and indicate the movement of the snake.

The sound effect is seen in words like 'fissure', 'trailed', 'slackness', 'dripped' and 'sipped'.

 The words also explain movement, how the snake slithered down from a fissure and trailed its slack soft body over the stone edge.

Another word that shows movement is 'flickered'.

"He sipped in with his straight mouth" and "straight gums" conveys the shape of its mouth and the mode of drinking water that the snake uses.

Words like softly, silently convey the quiet manner in which the snake drank the water.

The sibilance and repetition of the 's' sound in words like fissure, slackness, soft, stone, softly, straight, silently etc gives  the hissing effect  of the snake.

The repetition of the 's' sound also identifies with the 's' shaped curving around movement of the snake.


All these repetitive, similar sounding words that are used make the poem rich in visual and audio imagery. 

Chapter 12 - Snake Exercise 131

Solution 9

Similes used in the poem:

  • And I like a second comer, waiting. (The poet compares himself to the second person who arrives at the trough and so had to wait in line for his turn).

  • He had come like a guest in quite. (The snakes arrival suddenly at the water trough is compared to the arrival of a guest).

  • as one who has drunken (the snake satiated with

  • water is compared to a person who has drunk too  much; is intoxicated with alcohol).

  • And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air( the forked tongue of the snake is compared to a night sky being streaked with moonlight).

  • like a god unseeing (the movement of the eyes of the snake are compared to a God looking around).

  • as if thrice a dream ( the movement of the snake was so slow it was almost as if it was in a dream).

  • writhed like lightening (the twisting and turning movement of the snake after it was hit is compared to lightening).

  • he seemed to me again like a king

  • like a king in exile ( in both these sentences the snake is compared to a king, a majestic creature that is forced to go into exile by man).

Repetition used in the poem:

  • ….On a hot, hot day (repetition describes how intense the heat was and why the snake had come to quench its thirst).

  • Must wait, must stand and wait (repetition describes how he waited patiently)

  • ….Being earth -brown, earth -golden, (repetition used to describe how the snake must have been covered with mud and so had an earthy colour. It could also mean that it has come out from the earth).

  • …the black, black snakes (repetition to emphasize how black the snakes are).

  • was it cowardice, was it perversity (repetition used to emphasize the poet trying to reason why he wanted to speak to the snake).

  • …to feel so honoured? I felt so honoured (repetition to emphasize how honoured he was that the snake had visited him).

  • …if you were not afraid you would kill him! And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid (repetition to show how scared the poet was).

  • and slowly turned his head, And slowly, very slowly( repetition to emphasize the slowness with which the snake moved)

  • he seemed to me again like a king, like a king in exile( repetition to emphasize that the snake was royal like a king)

Solution 10

Activity to be carried out by the students