Man and the Natural World
Animals are anthropomorphized—that is, given human qualities—throughout “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” Rudyard Kipling’s story of a young mongoose’s attempt to protect his adoptive British family from two lurking cobras. The titular mongoose, named for the sounds he makes, is at once a wild animal and in possession of a distinctly civilized sense of refinement and loyalty—traits that endear him to the reader and suggest a kinship between nature and human beings. On the one hand, Rikki-tikki possesses a…read analysis of Man and the Natural World
Colonialism as a Benevolent Force
Kipling was an Englishman living in India during its period of British occupation. As a result, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and similar stories often portray colonialism as a benevolent force: bringing peace, order, and tranquility to a violent and chaotic world. Such attitudes were common and uncontroversial at the time, but both Kipling and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” have been criticized in recent decades for “whitewashing” the often-cruel realities of life in India under British rule.
Regardless, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” depicts the British…read analysis of Colonialism as a Benevolent Force
Courage and Cowardice
Kipling presents Rikki-tikki almost as a knight: brave, virtuous, and dedicated to the safety of others. Indeed, he doesn’t seem capable of feeling fear, and treats incidents in which his life is genuinely in danger as actively enjoyable. The fact that he uses that courage to noble ends is part of what makes Rikki-tikki a hero in the eyes of the story. Though no other character in “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” exhibits the same level of courage as…read analysis of Courage and Cowardice