The short story “The Mark of Vishnu” by Khushwant Singh has a linear, chronological plot structure. The story begins in medias res with Gunga Ram pouring milk in the saucer for the snake, which he refers to by the Indian term “kala nag”, meaning ‘black snake’ (p. 1, ll. 1-3). This becomes an occasion for the schoolboys to tease Gunga Ram about his superstition and lack of knowledge, pointing to an external conflict between them. There are hints that the conflict is ongoing and that it is probably caused by Gunga Ram’s status as a servant.

There are several foreshadowing elements in the text. For instance, the children’s remark that they will catch the snakes “alive” (p. 2, l. 1) foreshadows that the snake is not dead when they place it in the...

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