Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

by

Rudyard Kipling

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Teddy, the young English boy who first finds Rikki-tikki nearly drowned in a roadside ditch, is pivotal to the story, but less as a character in and of himself than as the focus of the mongoose’s protective nature. The story attributes few specific character traits to Teddy, and what is known comes mostly from inference. For instance, Teddy’s father states, “If Teddy doesn’t pick [the mongoose] up by the tail, or try to put him in a cage, he’ll run in and out of the house all day long.” Because Rikki-tikki does, indeed, run in and out of the house, it’s logical to assume that Teddy treats the animal kindly. He’s an innocent, not unlike Darzee’s baby, and as such is in danger from the cobras. Yet as a child, he’s all but helpless and is rarely aware of the presence of any threats. He also represents the future—that is, the stability, continuity, and an extension of British rule. As such, both Rikki-tikki and Teddy’s father focus on Teddy in their defense of the home and move to keep him safe first—most notably during the final confrontation with Nagaina.

Teddy Quotes in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The Rikki-Tikki-Tavi quotes below are all either spoken by Teddy or refer to Teddy. 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

It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is “Run and find out,” and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose.

Related Characters: Rikki-tikki-tavi, Teddy, Teddy’s Father
Explanation and Analysis:

“I suppose he’s so tame because we’ve been kind to him.”

“All mongooses are like that,” said her husband. “If Teddy doesn’t pick him up by the tail, or try to put him in a cage, he’ll run in and out of the house all day long. Let’s give him something to eat.”

Related Characters: Teddy’s Father (speaker), Teddy’s Mother (speaker), Rikki-tikki-tavi, Teddy
Related Symbols: Human Food
Explanation and Analysis:

“I don’t like that,” said Teddy’s mother. “He may bite the child.” “He’ll do no such thing,” said the father. “Teddy’s safer with that little beast than if he had a bloodhound to watch him. If a snake came into the nursery now—”

Related Characters: Teddy’s Father (speaker), Teddy’s Mother (speaker), Rikki-tikki-tavi, Teddy
Explanation and Analysis:

He sat on all their laps one after the other, because every well-brought-up mongoose always hopes to be a house mongoose some day and have rooms to run about in; and Rikki-tikki’s mother (she used to live in the general’s house at Segowlee) had carefully told Rikki what to do if ever he came across white men.

Explanation and Analysis:

Rikki-tikki knew he was a young mongoose, and it made him all the more pleased to think that he had managed to escape a blow from behind. It gave him confidence in himself, and when Teddy came running down the path, Rikki-tikki was ready to be petted.

Related Characters: Rikki-tikki-tavi, Teddy
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:

“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

Teddy Character Timeline in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The timeline below shows where the character Teddy 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
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
...left dying by the side of the road.  He’s discovered by a small English boy, Teddy, who initially thinks Rikki-tikki-tavi is dead. Teddy’s mother insists the mongoose is alive, and the... (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
...run of the house and readily begins to exercise his curiosity. When he scrambles up Teddy’s shoulder, Teddy’s father insists Rikki-tikki is nothing to be frightened of, while his mother marvels... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
...things that the family has to offer. He almost drowns himself in the bathtub, examines Teddy’s father’s writing desk, and sits in the man’s lap while he works. He sleeps with... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
The next day, Teddy’s family shares food from their breakfast table with Rikki-tikki, and he takes turns sitting on... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...Rikki-tikki decides that he is quite pleased with himself for surviving an attack from behind. Teddy comes down the path and the mongoose decides that he’s ready to be pet. (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
As he returns to Teddy’s family for a petting, Rikki-tikki spots one of the cobras’ babies, Karait, wriggling in the... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
...will make him slow, and instead he takes a dust bath in the bushes while Teddy’s father continues to beat the hatchling’s body. Rikki-tikki is perplexed by the action, since the... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
Rikki-tikki checks Teddy’s bathroom and Teddy’s mother’s bathroom before moving to the bathroom of Teddy’s father. There, he... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...he wants to be found with his teeth locked as a matter of family honor. Teddy’s father, awakened by the commotion, rushes into the bathroom and blasts the snake with a... (full context)
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
Rikki-Tiki is left stunned, but essentially unhurt. As Teddy’s mother enters the bathroom, white-faced with fear, the mongoose drags himself back to Teddy’s bedroom... (full context)
Man and the Natural World Theme Icon
The Importance of Family Theme Icon
Courage and Cowardice Theme Icon
...feigns a broken wing to draw Nagaina away. She succeeds in her task, claiming that Teddy broke her wing with a stone. Nagaina promises the bird that she will kill Teddy... (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
...back to the home to find Nagaina menacing the human family at their breakfast table. Teddy’s mother and father are white-faced and stone still as the cobra advances on them, close... (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
...and that only one remains. She turns, focusing solely on her last remaining egg, while Teddy’s father drags him to safety before going for his gun. Rikki-tikki boasts that he has... (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
...house and eats his fill from the humans’ dinner table before riding to bed on Teddy’s shoulders. He is proud of his victory, but not too proud, since he can’t let... (full context)