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In R.K. Narayan's "A Snake in the Grass," explain the beggar-woman's take on the...

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kimoyo | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM via web

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In R.K. Narayan's "A Snake in the Grass," explain the beggar-woman's take on the presence of a cobra in the vicinity of the household—and explain how the mother reacts to this...what does it say about her?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:59 AM (Answer #1)

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In R.K. Narayan's "A Snake in the Grass," the beggar-woman reminds the occupants of the house (where the the cobra is running loose) that they are supposed to be respectful of the snake. She notes:

It is the God [S]ubramanya who has come to visit you. Don't kill the snake.

[The story attached to the God Subramanya is that Vasuki, a snake from the mythology of the Hindus and Buddists...along with other snakes, hid under God Subramanya—the son of Lord Shiva—an important Hindu God.]

This reminder changes the mother's mind—she has been screaming for the death of the snake since her college-attending son told her:

I have read in an American paper that 30,000 people die of snakebite every year...I have worked it out, 83 a day.

With this reminder, the mother rewards the beggar-woman and asks her to bring the snake-charmer to them. This indicates that the mother's fear of snakebite is not as strong as her religious beliefs—or her desire to show respect for the god who is allegedly "housed" in the dangerous snake. So instead of wanting the snake dead, she prefers that the snake charmer remove the creature, so no disrespect is shown the snake, but that the family might be safe again.

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