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by Rudyard Kipling

Kim Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Would it be possible to tell Kim's story without the lama's quest for the River of the Arrow? What would Kim's coming-of-age narrative look like without his elderly mentor and friend helping him along?
  2. We have mentioned that Kim is totally filled with subtle signs of Kipling's pro-imperialist worldview. What would this book like if it were written today? Would it be possible to portray Kim's adventures without a colonialist backdrop? Can you imagine a character like Kim in today's British Secret Service?
  3. How would Kim be different if the Kim in the title were actually short for Kimberly? In other words, what if Kim were a girl? Could girl-Kim have the same kinds of adventures that boy-Kim has at the turn of the twentieth century? What kinds of extra restrictions might girl-Kim face on her quest for adventure?
  4. While reading this novel, we often ask ourselves: how much do you think the lama either knows or wants to know about Kim's chosen job of secret agent? Do you think the lama is completely oblivious to Kim's side missions, or do you think he turns a blind eye to the worldly activities of his disciple? How do you think Kim appears to the lama, ethically speaking?
  5. Why do you think the novel stops just before Kim becomes an official British Indian Secret Service agent? We know that Kim is set on his career path by the end of the book, but we don't actually see Creighton officially telling him, yes, you are now a full-time, full-pay spy. Would you read the adventures of grown-up Kim? Why might Kipling not be as interested in writing Kim's life as an adult spy?
  6. A lot of adventure novels that focus on coming-of-age include groups of friends facing the challenges of growing up together. So, in Harry Potter, we have Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and in The Hunger Games, we have Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Why doesn't Kim really seem to have friends of his own age? How would Kim be different if it were about a group of young would-be British Indian spies?

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