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Quotes

Quote #1

The lama jibbed at the open door of a crowded third-class carriage. 'Were it not better to walk?' said he weakly.

A burly Sikh artisan thrust forth his bearded head. 'Is he afraid? Do not be afraid. I remember the time when I was afraid of the te-rain. Enter! This thing is the work of the Government.' (2.12-13)

This Sikh craftsman attempts to reassure the nervous lama by telling him that this train is the "work of the Government." In other words, don't worry, man, this is a government train—how can it go wrong? Loyalty and faith in the British Indian government is the norm in Kim, rather than the exception—Kipling constantly reinforces that the local people are glad to have the British Indian administration in place.

Quote #2

'My sister's brother's son is naik [corporal] in that regiment,' said the Sikh craftsman quietly. 'There are also some Dogra companies there.' The soldier glared, for a Dogra is of other caste than a Sikh, and the banker tittered.

'They are all one to me,' said the Amritzar girl.

'That we believe,' snorted the cultivator's wife malignantly.

'Nay, but all who serve the Sirkar with weapons in their hands are, as it were, one brotherhood. There is one brotherhood of the caste, but beyond that again'—she looked round timidly—'the bond of the Pulton—the Regiment—eh?' (2.38-41)

(By the way, the Sirkar is the Government.) Here, the farmer's wife is mocking the Amritzar girl for not being very choosy in her male companions, which would seem to be an example of disloyalty rather than loyalty. But what the Amritzar girl really means when she says that soldiers "are all one to [her]" is that all members of the Indian army—be they Sikh, Dogra, or any other group—are part of the same brotherhood. So membership in the army can/should overcome cultural and class differences.

Quote #3

'Let him live out his life.' The coiled thing hissed and half opened its hood. 'May thy release come soon, brother!' the lama continued placidly. 'Hast thou knowledge, by chance, of my River?'

'Never have I seen such a man as thou art,' Kim whispered, overwhelmed. 'Do the very snakes understand thy talk?'

'Who knows?' He passed within a foot of the cobra's poised head. It flattened itself among the dusty coils.

'Come, thou!' he called over his shoulder.

'Not I,' said Kim. 'I go round.'

'Come. He does no hurt.'

Kim hesitated for a moment. The lama backed his order by some droned Chinese quotation which Kim took for a charm. He obeyed and bounded across the rivulet, and the snake, indeed, made no sign.

'Never have I seen such a man.' Kim wiped the sweat from his forehead. 'And now, whither go we?' (3.23-30)

Initially the lama and Kim seem to come together out of mutual convenience. Kim is curious—he's never seen a guy quite like the lama, and he wants to know more—and the lama wants to teach someone new about his ways; he also wants some help in traveling across India looking for his River of the Arrow. But as the two of them travel, they find genuine reasons to like and respect each other. We can really see Kim's loyalty to the lama developing in Chapter 3, when the lama encourages Kim to walk past this cobra in the field.

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