Question 1: “The sound was a familiar one.” What sound did the doctor hear? What did he think it was? When and why did the sounds stop?
Answer: When the doctor entered his house he heard the familiar sound of rats scurrying through the beams of the roof. The statement that he and rats were housemates gives an impression that the house was full of rats. Doctor was used to noises made by rats. So he was not bothered about the noise. When a snake fell from the roof the sound stopped because the snake must have come there to catch its prey.
Question 2: What two “important” and “earth-shaking” decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
Answer: The first important and earth shaking decision taken by the doctor was to shave daily to look handsome. The second decision was to smile the way he was smiling when looking at the mirror. He thought that he should look handsome because he was a bachelor and a doctor, so he was one of the most eligible bachelors.
3. “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: (i) he first smiles, and (ii) he smiles again? In what way do his thoughts change in between, and why?
Answer: In the first instance the doctor is smiling to appreciate his youthful beauty. This happens to most of the people when they are of certain age group.
In the second instance when he is playing eyeball to eyeball with the snake, then he is smiling feebly as if to laugh at his helplessness.
In this stanza the poet has tried to create a vivid picture of the background of the poem. The poem is set in the backdrop of Scotland, which is near the northern tip of the United Kingdom. This place is also somewhat nearer to the northern pole. Closeness to the north-pole gives this place a cold weather with very few hours of sunlight. The poet has written that here hours of the day are few and nights are so long in winter that people are unable to spend the whole night sleeping. When it snows in Scotland people harness their reindeers to pull their sledges. Because of extreme cold children look like bear’s cubs because of funny and furry clothes.
A story is quite famous and has been passed on through generations in the Scotland. The poet doesn’t believe in the authenticity of the story but yet is tempted to share the story. Mythological stories may not relate to realities but they always carry some good messages with them and that is why the poet is narrating the story.
Once Saint peter was on his usual round of traveling and preaching people, he felt hungry. He chanced upon an old cottage where a little woman was making cakes. Saint Peter went near the woman and asked for some cakes to eat.
The little woman started to bake a small cake for Saint Peter. After the cake was done she found it too big to be given for free. So she decided to bake an even smaller cake. This went on and on till she made a paper thin wafer for Saint Peter. She even kept that wafer instead of giving it to Saint Peter because she was too greedy to part with a single morsel of food.
On observing her greed Saint Peter became very angry at her. He said that she was too selfish to dwell in human form. He cursed her to become a bird and live searching for scant food in the jungle, by boring all day in the dry and hard wood.
After Saint Peter’s curse the little woman went up through the chimney and got changed to a woodpecker. Her whole body turned to coal black because of going up through the chimney. Her red cap turned to red plumage of the woodpecker. After that people have been seeing her in the wood where she lives by boring and boring the dry wood in search of food.
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