The Snake

Topics: Cat, Science, Rat Pages: 2 (486 words) Published: September 15, 2013
The story The Snake, by John Steinbeck begins with Dr. Phillips leaving the tide pools after collecting specimens and arriving at a building nearby on the cannery street of Monterey. He enters the building and we see a laboratory with rats and snakes, a dissecting table and even cats in pens. One would conclude that he is a scientist. He builds a fire and heats up dinner. There is nothing very fancy about his laboratory. In fact, it seems like he lives very simply. He lays out his starfish and feeds the rats. It has a soothing feel to the reader as he goes about his work until he lifts a cat out of its pen and places it in a box, closes the lid and turns on the gas. He kills the cat and then smiles and pets another cat. It gives the reader a strange feeling. Is this guy really a scientist or is he a freak? As he works on the starfish he hears steps and a knock at his door. He isn’t happy about being disturbed. A mysterious woman has come to his laboratory. She is very uninterested in what he is doing and it bothers him. He wants to impress her. She wants to know if he has a male rattlesnake. She ends up buying the snake but will leave it with him. Then she wants to watch it eat a rat, so she buys a rat and has him put it in the cage. He is upset that she wants to see the snake attack the rat. He feels like she only wants to kill the rat for entertainment and that makes him angry. The fact that he also kills animals is okay with him because it is for educational purposes. She never returns although she tells him that she will come back to feed her snake. He looks for her whenever he goes out.

The woman in this story is like the snake, mysterious and slithery. She is after something and gets what she wants just like the snake is after the rat. The snake is like Dr. Phillips. They both kill animals for a necessary purpose. The snake kills because he needs to eat and Dr. Phillips kills to gain scientific knowledge. Yet, in both cases the killing is brutal and...
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