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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Loyalty

Our hero Kim is an orphan, but he has about a billion parent figures (and we swear, we're barely exaggerating): the lama, Mahbub Ali, Creighton, Lurgan, the Kulu woman—even the Babu could count a...

Race

Race is everywhere in Kim. We find out on the first page that, underneath Kim's darkly tanned skin (which is "burned black as any native"), Kim is still "white" (1.2). There is no single character...

Cunning And Cleverness

Kim seems to spend about 90% of his time watching other people and trying to figure out what their game is. And when Kim isn't watching other people, he's coming up with his own schemes to deliver...

Appearances

We've mentioned elsewhere that we are told the races of every single character in Kim. Race really seems to matter for Kipling, since he is portraying the deeply hierarchical, prejudiced society of...

Foreignness And "The Other"

There are a couple of different levels of foreignness in this novel. First you've got the outsider status of certain characters within the book, of whom the lama is the best example: when Kim first...

Youth

Kipling wrote a lot of books for kids that still remain popular to this day, including The Jungle Book, the Just-So Stories, and, of course, Kim. He was really invested in the idea that the boys of...

Duty

If you think about it, a lot of Kim is about acknowledging the duty that all of the characters owe to Kipling's idealized British Indian state. After all, Kim starts out the novel with many of the...

Spirituality

Kipling spends a lot of time cataloguing the sheer number of kinds of people in India. Every time there's a crowd scene, we see at least a dozen different representatives of different racial and cu...
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