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Character Role Analysis

The Russian Agents

For a book about spy training and intrigue, there are surprisingly few antagonists or enemies in Kim. Oh sure, we see some signs of unrest: the breakaway kingdoms of Hilas and Bunar in the North, and the assassination attempts of Agent E.23 and Mahbub Ali at different points in the novel show that there are some problems with the British administration of India as a colony. But it says something about Kipling's confidence in British imperialism that he never suggests that any of the Indian people whom Kim meets or speaks to at length on the road have any problem at all with British colonial domination.

In fact, the only two real antagonists in the book—the two men who actually get into a gun fight with Kim—are agents of the Russian empire. In other words, Kipling appears to be implying that the only danger to British rule in India is the power of other European nations, not an uprising from the Indians themselves. For more on Kipling's political assumptions about India, check out our "Character Analysis" section.