Analysis of Rudyard Kipling's Novel Kim: Plot and Themes

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Words: 2443 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Apr 30, 2020

Words: 2443|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Apr 30, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Kim by Rudyard Kipling: summary
  3. Point of view
  4. Themes
  5. Conclusion

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

There are many literary works that are entirely centred around the Empire and its’ colonies. One of the most notable is Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, the novel set within the British Empire, therefore highlighting how some books were highly representative of it.

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The novel is unraveled against the setting of the Great Game, the political clash among Russia and Britain that existed in central Asia. The novel presented the topic of incredible power contention and intrigue vividly. The story takes place after the second Afghan War that ended in the 1890s, but it was before the third war.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling: summary

Kim by Rudyard Kipling is essentially a fairy tale, about an orphan named Kimball O’Hara. This book is set in the late 1890s in British India. Kim invests his energy in the city of Lahore circling, searching nourishment, and for the most part, driving a lighthearted and underhandedness substantial life. Kim's prescience descends from his presently perished dad: allegedly, Kim's fortunes will change once he locates a Red Bull on an emerald-green field. What's more, two men will seem first to set up the path for the landing of this Red Bull.

Kim is playing before the Lahore Museum, which throughout the book is called the Wonder house. He recognizes somebody wearing garments of a trend he’s never observed. The man is a Tibetan Buddhist that derives from the North, he is a lama as well. The lama needs to address the custodian of the Wonder House since he has heard that the caretaker is an astute man. He needs to converse with shrewd individuals since he is searching for an entity that is critical to him, the River of the Arrow. As indicated by the lama, once amid a trial of quality the Buddha shot a bolt out a long ways past his uttermost target. When the arrow landed, a River consequently jumped up. The lama's goal is to find a stream that he can bathe in so that he can be enlightened. Kim is intrigued by the lama, he admires his unusual qualities, and the solemnity he obtains. Because of this, Kim insists that he goes on his voyage with him in attempts to locate the River of the Arrow.

The lama welcomingly accompanies chela, they then arrange to venture off to the heavenly city of Benares together. Kim and the lama proceed to travel south by train and on foot. They establish a much more sincere connection for each other while on the journey despite Kim’s mind being quite different from Mahbub Ali. Kim then gives the Englishman his note, further establishing that there are a total of five kings in northern India who are planning to break away from the British Indian government. Kim enjoys conveying data that has a genuine effect on state choices. He then returns to the lama and they proceed to look for the lama’s River of the Arrow. While venturing into the army camp, Kim gets captured by an Anglican minister appended to the regiment. The minister finds out that Kim is really a British boy, the lama then offers to compensate for Kim’s educational cost to St. Xavier’s (Kim, by Rudyard Kipling). At first, Kim despises his school; however, he is then recommended to Colonial Creighton, and this hatred quickly changes. Colonial Creighton takes him under his wing. As the school year comes to a close, Creighton urges Kim to devote his time over the summer to a man named Lurgan. Kim’s aspirations are to become an agent within the British Indian Secret Service. Before allowing Kim to roam India Creighton orders him to travel for six months to recall what true life in India is like. Kim is accompanied down to Benares by a man named Babu. Throughout the time that Kim has spent in school, the lama has been traveling quite a bit. The lama wants to rejoin Kim and go on a quest for the river while hoping to obtain Enlightenment. The Babu informs Kim about why he is here. Babu has noticed two suspicious Russian agents being overly friendly with the rebel kings. The babu needs to obtain the messages that these folks may convey, but he doesn't want to do it alone, which is why he recruits Kim to accompany him. Everything reaches a critical stage when the two specialists, run into Kim and the lama while out and about.

The lama is in the middle of conveying his drawing to Kim when the agents proceed to attempt and take the drawing from the lama. He smacks the lama in the face when the lama says he will not sell it to them. The men then flee, but they leave behind their luggage. Kim then searches it and locates a secured crate full of messages from the slope rulers that discuss injustice against the British Indian government. Kim then proceeds to sleep for 36 hours, a lot goes on while he is asleep (Kim, by Rudyard Kipling). While Kim was dozing, the lama had an intense dream. In his vision, the lama was flying high over the world and coming appropriated to the edge of the Great Soul at the focal point of creation. The lama exits the dream splashing wet, this waterway in which he came across must be the River of the Arrow. The lama has finally discovered his River and is prepared to indicate it to Kim to bring him insight. The lama, at last, has gone to a profound comprehension of his place on the planet.

Point of view

The novel is written in third-person omniscient. Kim is the narrator throughout the novel and seemingly communicates information on the feelings of the characters, he appears to know basically everything about essentially everyone. However, there is also plenty of insight that is given on Mahbub Ali and Creighton every so often, plainly the accentuation on Kim is a decision instead of a fundamental confinement on the storyteller's point of view.

Moreover, the narrator takes on a distant, definite point of view, that includes precise perspectives. In this way, to utilize film terms, there are instances when the reader takes in unbelievable measures of visual data. At some point Kim pauses to examine the groups on the convoy, or when he experiences the distinctive urban areas amidst India or the beautiful scenery of the Himalayas, the storyteller presents these stupendous previews of the scope of individuals or the magnificence of the scene, attracting regard for the size and variety before Kim (Kim, by Rudyard Kipling).

An example of this from Lurgan’s house in Simla, “There were ladies in search of necklaces, and men, it seemed to Kim—but his mind may have been vitiated by early training—in search of the ladies; natives from independent and feudatory courts whose ostensible business was the repair of broken necklaces—rivers of light poured upon the table—but whose true end seemed to be to raise money for angry Maharanees or young Rajahs” (Chapter 9, pg. 107). This quote exemplifies, Kipling’s ability to describe a wide variety of people. Lurgan’s home offers a cross-segment of Indian culture itself, the storyteller is able to heap on numerous details in order to stress the scale and extent of the society.


Throughout the story, there are various overarching themes that are present. Imperialism is a theme that is conveyed from the beginning to the end of the novel. The finely created depiction of solidarity and correspondence Kipling creates among “native” and “Sahib” classes with the unavoidable certainty that the British are the overseeing class, and the Indians are the administered (Kipling's 'Kim' Study Guide). Kipling conveys the imperialist occupancy in India as undeniably positive.

This occurs most successfully through the primary plot of the novel, that the undertakings of Indian and British Governments agents are too ensure the northern border of British India from the infringement if Russia, along these lines securing the supreme interests of the British Empire. It is particularly critical that Indian covert spies are shown protecting British interests. Along these lines, Kipling builds an India in which the local populace bolsters the British empire, therefore, showing Britain's radical nearness as a positive decent (Kipling's 'Kim' Study Guide). This leads to the conclusion that Kim’s imperialist ideology is nothing more than a narrative strategy, in order to represent Kim’s authority over the native inhabitants of the colony. Kim embodied attitudes towards British rule in India, these ideas in current time are unacceptable (Imperialism in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim). Kipling trusted it was correct and appropriate for Britain to 'possess' India and manage its people, thus the likelihood that this position may undoubtedly be sketchy never appears to have entered Kipling's thoughts. Notwithstanding, when Kipling was composing, there was an impressive uprising of revolt among Indians against British control yet Kipling seems to reject this throughout the novel when he could have recognized it (Imperialism in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim). As far as clarifying colonization and government, along these lines, Kim is the perfect epitome of the clashing Indian and English universes. Kipling renders a dream of India where scholarly, moral and political limits are not as equivalent.

For sure, if Kipling accepted, as he very much contended, that East and West can never truly meet in the Indian colony, this is the point where Kim ensures they don't. Kipling's dominion turns out to be more obvious. Kipling had confidence in racial distinction, that is, in European predominance and for him, British authority in India was a strong reality (Imperialism in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim). Therefore, the Great Empire deeply affected Rudyard Kipling's artistic inventiveness, particularly in the formation of his characters and the unmistakable lives that they lived. Kipling's Kim encapsulates the supreme divisions among white and nonwhite that existed in India when the predominantly white Christian nations of Europe controlled around 85 percent of the world (Imperialism in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim). Orientalism and identity are two themes that are extremely prevalent throughout the story. Orientalism has come to be represented through the information and convictions about the people groups of the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. It has been built and forced upon their nations by their Western European colonizers.

A large number of the perceptions of Indian life introduced in Kim are disdainful generalizations, that came from orientalists’ convictions (Real English). These defamatory ethnic generalizations pointedly appear differently in relation to Kipling’s depictions of the British, as the British culture further developed (Kim, by Rudyard Kipling). For instance, when Lurgan Sahib endeavors to entrance Kim, Kim then recounts the multiplication tables that he learned at school in English to oppose, this symbolizes Kipling’s belief in the progression of British law beyond the superstitious methods for the Asians (Real English). This diversity all through Kim serves to help and legitimize the administer of the “more skilled” British over the Indian individuals. Kim’s character is put in a dilemma of identity as Kim, an Irish vagrant, experiences childhood in the avenues of the Indian city of Lahore and adjusts to the way of life and dialects of India. Because of this, Kim can technically say that he is an individual from any religious or social gathering of India. He is without a moment's delay a Sahib and, by uprightness of his childhood, a piece of the colonized society (Real English). Kim starts to experience an emergency of personality when he is first made to go to class to become a Sahib. The inquiry of character and belonging drastically affects Kim all through the story, abandoning him with a sentiment of forlornness.

Despite the fact that Kim’s contention of identity is achieved by all of a sudden being immersed into the British culture, it is huge that Kipling does not enforce Kim’s individual catastrophe in which he must pick between living as a Sahib or a native. Through Kim’s inevitable capacity to accommodate both, Kipling symbolizes his larger prototype of a unified British India (Real English). The epitome of the correspondence and solidarity of men echoes over a few themes in Kim, predominantly through the Buddhist lessons of Teshoo Lama. He says to Kim, “To those who follow the Way there is neither black nor white, Hind nor Bhotiyal. We be all souls seeking to escape. ” This idea of the equality and unity of men rises above the demanding caste system, it is dominant in the Hindu society that Kim has known for all of his life (Real English). The lama lugs a chart with him called the Wheel of Life, or, in other words, a portrayal of the Buddhist tenet that all lives are equally bound in the cycle of life and that all spirits look for discharge from this cycle by accomplishing Enlightenment. The various references to the Wheel of Life throughout the story serve to fortify the message of balance and solidarity.

The lama’s lessons and his journey for Enlightenment are rarely the subjects of Kipling’s feedback, as are different religious convictions displayed in Kim: preferably, the goals of the novel incorporate the lama’s victorious accomplishment of Enlightenment, which serves to verify, as opposed to invalidate, the tenet of uniformity and solidarity resounded throughout. Kipling likewise utilizes the subject of unity to depict a perfect India that isn’t partitioned by the government but instead is brought together under it. This is particularly apparent in the connections betwixt the characters who take an interest in the Great Game: Mahbub Ali, an Afghan; Lurgan Sahib, a man of "blended" race; Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, a Bengali; and Colonel Creighton, an Englishman, an officer, and hence an individual from the ruling class (Real English). Regardless of their divergent foundations, every one of these characters is joined in a tight fellowship of reconnaissance that operates to secure the interests of the British Empire in India. It is critical that Kipling indicates both British and Indian characters similarly are working on an equivalent reason for the benefit of the realm. This serves to advance a glorified, far-fetched depiction of a particularly joined together, all-embracing British India.

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At the point when Kim was published in 1901, the British empire was the most influential realm on the planet. The Indian subcontinent was a standout amongst the most essential parts of the empire, which numerous “Anglo-Indians” called home. Imperialism was not simply the act of the British Empire’s demonstrations of colonization of different ground and individuals; dominion was a reasoning that expected the predominance of British human progress and consequently the ethical duty to convey their enlightened approaches to the “uncivilized” individuals of the world. All these processes are masterfully depicted by Rudyard Kipling.

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The Novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Summary, Structural and Thematic Analysis. (2022, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“The Novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Summary, Structural and Thematic Analysis.” GradesFixer, 19 May 2022,
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