The Man Who Would Be King


Rudyard Kipling

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Members of a secret fraternal society who use secret symbols and signs to communicate with one another, agree to provide one another with assistance, and participate in certain rituals and initiations. Masons (also called Freemasons) are organized into local groups called Lodges, and a Grand Lodge governs the individual Lodges under its jurisdiction. Masons can also earn “degrees.” With each degree, a Mason is initiated into new knowledge regarding the symbols of Freemasonry. At the beginning of the story, the narrator agrees to deliver Peachey Carnehan’s message because both men are Masons. In Kafiristan, Carnehan and Daniel Dravot exploit their knowledge of Masonry to establish a Lodge and install themselves as Grand Masters, cementing their authority over the colonized Kafirs.

Masons Quotes in The Man Who Would Be King

The The Man Who Would Be King quotes below are all either spoken by Masons or refer to Masons. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality and Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Knopf edition of The Man Who Would Be King published in 1994.
The Man Who Would Be King Quotes

“Shake hands with him,” says Dravot, and I shook hands and nearly dropped, for Billy Fish gave me the Grip. I said nothing, but tried him with the Fellow Craft Grip. He answers all right, and I tried the Master’s Grip, but that was a slip. “A Fellow Craft he is!” I says to Dan. “Does he know the word?”—“He does,” says Dan, “and all the priests know. It’s a miracle! The Chiefs and the priests can work a Fellow Craft Lodge in a way that’s very like ours, and they’ve cut the marks on the rocks, but they don’t know the Third Degree, and they’ve come to find out. It’s Gord’s Truth. I’ve known these long years that the Afghans knew up to the Fellow Craft Degree, but this is a miracle. A God and a Grand-Master of the Craft am I, and a Lodge in the Third Degree I will open, and we’ll raise the head priests and the Chiefs of the villages.”

“It’s against all the law,” I says, “holding a Lodge without warrant from any one; and you know we never held office in any Lodge.”

“It’s a master-stroke o’ policy,” says Dravot.

Related Characters: Peachey Carnehan (speaker), Daniel Dravot (speaker), Billy Fish
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Masons Term Timeline in The Man Who Would Be King

The timeline below shows where the term Masons appears in The Man Who Would Be King. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Man Who Would Be King
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...the sake of my Mother as well as yours”—a code indicating that both men are Masons. The narrator agrees. (full context)
Ambition and Hubris Theme Icon
Civilization and the Colonized Theme Icon
...Craft here refers to Freemasonry; it turns out that the Kafirs are familiar with some Masonic symbols and practice some Masonic rites. Dravot knows enough to impersonate a grand master, and... (full context)