Book: The Jungle Book

Author: Rudyard Kipling

Rating: 4/5

The Jungle Book-Rudyard Kipling

The jungles of India: the wolf-pack lives and hunts in the forest. Led by the lone wolf Akela and the wisdom of the venerable bear Balloo, the pack stumbles across a baby human. Raised by the pack and by the Law of the Jungle, Mowgli learns to live and fight using guile and determination instead of tooth and claw. Now with his friends Bagheera and Balloo, Mowgli must confront Sher Khan, the tyrannical lord of the jungle, for the safety of the pack and to uphold the Law. Other stories include: the valorous adventures of Rikki-tikki-tavi a mongoose against the deadly Cobra, a tale of a search for a safe haven for his kind by Kotick the White Seal and the overheard conversation of camp animals by a British soldier conversant with 'beast-talk'.

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Social/Historical context:

The author writes in the third person from the point of view of the central character. The characters are generally anthropomorphic animals except one or two where human perspectives are used. The characters are clearly outlined and hence almost two-dimensional in nature, this is perhaps necessary because this work was intended for a younger audience unused to grappling with shaded nuances or complex, fleshed out characters. Moral tones of honesty, determination and righteousness and the prevailing values of ‘Honest Britons’, as it was part of the propaganda of that time,  are strongly prevalent.

Writing Style:

The author writes in the third person from the point of view of the central character. The characters are generally anthropomorphic animals except one or two where human perspectives are used. The characters are clearly outlined and hence almost two-dimensional in nature, this is perhaps necessary because this work was intended for a younger audience unused to grappling with shaded nuances or complex, fleshed out characters. Moral tones of honesty, determination and righteousness and the prevailing values of ‘Honest Britons’, as it was part of the propaganda of that time,  are strongly prevalent.

My Thoughts:

Also evident; though for more advanced readers; are undertones of Kipling's concept of superiority of his own race over the ‘natives’. The ‘native’ characters in the stories are poorly fleshed out and almost caricatures of themselves and appear to have been sketched from a distance wherein the author maintains a clear demarcation between the Self and the Other, the latter being the coloured people. The formative principles of White Man’s Burden, Kipling's pet philosophy, are already beginning to be seen albeit as shadows and ghosts of their future selves.
One of the most enjoyable books of my childhood and even in adulthood, highly informative as to the outlook of the British on their 'native population'. Although too uni-dimensional to be a truly stimulating read, it does have its enjoyable moments and I highly recommend it to lighten up a boring sunday afternoon.

Book Reviewed by Sayan Mukherjee

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