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One of the most famous story in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is the “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, has also been published as a short book. Many people read it as the story of a heroic mongoose. But we can also interpret “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” from the angle of post colonialism, which the British family is the invader, the cobras are less villainous and Rikki-Tikki becomes a loyal colonial subject.
Rikki-Tikki is an Indian mongoose who was very appreciated the English family for saved him from drowning. Therefore he helped the human family to kill the snakes who was planning to kill them. From the traditional angle, I can tell that the mongoose represents the knight protecting his new family and the garden, all of which form his home. However, there still something else about the story, the characters and the meaning that we need to interpret. By reading Kipling’s short story from the angle of post colonialism, we can also discover Kipling’s view on imperialist culture.
Post colonialism is the period after colonialism, when the invaders had returned to their countries, left many great influence and new culture to the colonies. The British family in the story moved into a bungalow in India, where Nag and Nagaina – the snakes, were living. The white invaders brought their culture, took over the land and controlled everything. This is the reason why the snakes wanted to kill the human family and take back what belongs to them.
From my point of view, the human represent an enormous threat to the livelihood of the Indian cobras and their young. Nag and Nagaina desired to ambush the humans is merely the fulfillment of natural instinct. Think of the Indian snakes just want to protect their eggs and take back what belongs to them, they are less villainous if we see them from the angle of post colonialism. I can say that the cobras are metaphors for the Indian population and they wanted to stand up against the British invasion. The cobras desired to live and bear young was as great and all-consuming as was the English family’s need to live in relative safety, free from a slithering death they would never see coming.
Kipling builds Rikki’s heroism in the story form killing the evil cobras and saved the human family life. However, as I mentioned above, Nag and Nagaina just wanted to defend themselves and their young. The cobras were living at the garden first and they wanted to rule the garden, as they did until Rikki-Tikki came along. I can point out that Kipling created the reasoning skills and deliberately make the cobras so evil and make Rikki-Tikki so reasoning. In fact, animals are not so calculating. People can say that the cobras may just want to live but, by their nature, they are inimical to the human and Rikki is properly values. I would say this is unacceptable. For Instance, some Indian people are the same as Rikki-Tikki who were helped by English people. There will be people are the same as the cobras who want to against the British and protect their young. Rikki-Tikki did not distinguish between right and wrong, but he just wants to return the favor, even killing people of his country. From the angle of post colonialism, the mongoose loses the status of hero and becomes, instead, a loyal colonial subject.
In conclusion, The “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is not only famous by the heroism but also by a deep sense of the author from the perspective of post colonialism and imperialist culture. Kipling has surprised us with three unexpected visions but by his own views and experiences.
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