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Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from The Jungle Book

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling

Philosophical Viewpoints: Postcolonialism Theme

Postcolonialism can be seen as a philosophy, a reconsideration of history, or a method of cultural studies. In short, it's a field with its work cut out for it. For our purposes, we can think of postcolonial readers as those "concerned with literature produced by colonial powers and works produced by those who were/are colonized" (Source). The basic idea is to read between the lines of the stories written by history's winners and see what may have be left out. With "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," what does the story leave out of its presentation of India? And once reincorporated into the story, does this ignored history change the way we perceive and find meaning in the story? Only one way to find out: we're going to have to shake things up a little.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: Postcolonialism

  1. Do you think the postcolonial reading we've offered in parts of this guide presents an accurate portrayal of the story? If yes, why? If not, then why not? Each response should come with evidence from the story.
  2. How do you see characters like Darzee, Darzee's wife, and Chuchundra fitting into a postcolonial reading? Does this reading change their role in the story? If yes, how? If not, then why not?
  3. Pick another story in the Jungle Books and read it with a magnifying glass toward postcolonial evidence. What do you see? Can this other story be read as a postcolonial text? When comparing this story to "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," does it suggest any new outlooks on postcolonialism in general? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Kipling snuck support for India into "Rikki-tikki-tavi" by giving the cobras motivations and feelings.

The story sees the cobras as evil not because of the postcolonial view we're proposing here but from of Rikki-tikki's youthful, immature life view. See "Coming of Age" for more.

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