Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

by

Rudyard Kipling

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Nagaina Character Analysis

Nagaina, Nag’s mate, readily joins her husband in terrorizing the garden. She conspires with Nag not only to ambush Rikki-Tikki—striking at him while Nag distracts him—but also to murder Teddy and his family in order to get rid of the mongoose and regain control of the garden. Nagaina shares many qualities with her husband: she, too, is capricious, cruel, underhanded, and happy to rule the garden through fear. Yet despite her irredeemable villainy, she’s still given understandable motives in the form of her eggs: a family of her own which she and Nag wish to raise. That causes Nagaina to attempt a retreat with the egg into her cobra hole in the story’s climax, which seals her fate; Rikki-tikki kills her, thus restoring justice and order to the garden.

Nagaina Quotes in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The Rikki-Tikki-Tavi quotes below are all either spoken by Nagaina or refer to Nagaina. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin edition of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi published in 1984.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi Quotes

He came down almost across her back, and if he had been an old mongoose he would have known that then was the time to break her back with one bite; but he was afraid of the terrible lashing return stroke of the cobra. He bit, indeed, but did not bite long enough, and he jumped clear of the whisking tail, leaving Nagaina torn and angry.

Related Characters: Rikki-tikki-tavi, Nag, Nagaina
Explanation and Analysis:

If Rikki-tikki had only known, he was doing a much more dangerous thing than fighting Nag, for Karait is so small, and can turn so quickly, that unless Rikki bit him close to the back of the head, he would get the return stroke in his eye or his lip. But Rikki did not know.

Explanation and Analysis:

That night at dinner, walking to and fro among the wine-glasses on the table, he might have stuffed himself three times over with nice things. But he remembered Nag and Nagaina, and though it was very pleasant to be patted and petted by Teddy’s mother, and to sit on Teddy’s shoulder, his eyes would get red from time to time, and he would go off into his long war cry of “Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!”

Related Symbols: Human Food
Explanation and Analysis:

But his wife was a sensible bird, and she knew that cobra’s eggs meant young cobras later on. So she flew off from the nest, and left Darzee to keep the babies warm, and continue his song about the death of Nag. Darzee was very like a man in some ways.

Explanation and Analysis:

Rikki-tikki put his paws one on each side of the egg, and his eyes were blood-red. “What price for a snake’s egg? For a young cobra? For a young king cobra? For the last—the very last of the brood? The ants are eating all the others down by the melon bed.”

Related Characters: Rikki-tikki-tavi (speaker), Nagaina, Darzee’s Wife
Related Symbols: The Cobra Hole
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

“Ding-dong-tock! Nag is dead—dong! Nagaina is dead! Ding-dong-tock!” That set all the birds in the garden singing, and the frogs croaking, for Nag and Nagaina used to eat frogs as well as little birds.

When Rikki got to the house, Teddy and Teddy’s mother (she looked very white still, for she had been fainting) and Teddy’s father came out and almost cried over him; and that night he ate all that was given him till he could eat no more, and went to bed on Teddy’s shoulder, where Teddy’s mother saw him when she came to look late at night.

Related Symbols: Human Food
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Rikki-Tikki-Tavi LitChart as a printable PDF.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi PDF

Nagaina Character Timeline in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The timeline below shows where the character Nagaina appears in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
...is so different from the mongoose’s diet of eggs. As he does so, his wife Nagaina positions herself to strike the mongoose from behind. Darzee gives a cry of warning and... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
Rikki-tikki lands on Nagaina’s back and bites her, though he does not yet know enough about fighting cobras to... (full context)
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...pleased with himself, having now saved Teddy’s parents from an attack. He’s still concerned about Nagaina and the cobras’ babies, however, and he resolves to see Darzee in the garden and... (full context)
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
...of triumph at Nag’s death. The mongoose is supremely irritated at the tailorbird’s joy, since Nagaina and the cobra eggs are still at large. He asks Darzee where the eggs are,... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...whole garden—because cobra eggs will turn into more cobras—and feigns a broken wing to draw Nagaina away. She succeeds in her task, claiming that Teddy broke her wing with a stone.... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Distracted by the bird, Nagaina misses Rikki-tikki sneaking into her nest. The eggs are ready to hatch, and the mongoose... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...two of the remaining eggs and takes the third back to the home to find Nagaina menacing the human family at their breakfast table. Teddy’s mother and father are white-faced and... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The mongoose challenges Nagaina to a fight, but the cobra will not be distracted from the family. Rikki-tikki tells... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
The egg sits between Rikki-tikki’s paws as he engages with Nagaina. She strikes again and again, but he ducks aside every time. He forgets about the... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...he does so, however, Rikki-tikki emerges victorious from the cobra’s hole, claiming to have slain Nagaina at last. The ants in the garden hear him and move into the hole to... (full context)