Study Guide

Kim Chapter 11

By Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 11

A Sudden Existential Crisis

  • As Kim sits in his disguise at the Benares train station, he feels alone in the world and wonders, "Who is Kim—Kim—Kim?" (11.4)
  • A Hindu holy man approaches Kim and he tells him that he is having a spiritual crisis.
  • The holy man sympathizes: he has been looking for Enlightenment for years.
  • The holy man assures Kim that we are all in the same boat, trying to figure out life and our place in it.
  • This thought cheers Kim up, and he drops the emo act and returns to his usual self.
  • There is a Punjabi farmer outside the Jain temple where the lama is staying.
  • He has a sick child with him.
  • The farmer complains to Kim that he has been to every kind of priest, and none of them have been able to help his ailing son.
  • He is almost out of money, but he will do what he can (financially speaking) if Kim's lama can cure his son.

Rekindling The Bromance

  • Kim goes into the Jain temple to find his lama.
  • The two of them go out together to the Punjabi farmer and his son, where Kim pulls out that medicine box he got from the Babu way back in Chapter 9.
  • It's stocked with quinine pills and beef bouillon cubes (among other things).
  • (Quinine has long been used as a treatment for malaria. It's also the ingredient in tonic water that gives it that bitter taste.)
  • Kim recognizes that, yes, the kid has a fever, but the real problem is that he is malnourished.
  • So Kim gives the boy a cube of beef bouillon to suck on (which sounds revolting: concentrated beef juice—ugh).
  • He also gives the father six cubes to boil up in water or milk.
  • And he hands over a quinine pill.
  • Kim tells the Punjabi farmer to come back the next day with his son, who should be fine now that he has food and medicine.
  • The lama is deeply impressed by how much Kim has learned.
  • But he isn't totally surprised—it turns out the lama has been keeping track of Kim, first through letters from Father Victor, and then through direct news from the Babu.
  • The lama is glad to see that Kim is ready, because the time has come: they need to set out once again to search for the River of the Arrow.

Dr. Kim, M.D.

  • They wait until the next morning to see what news the Punjabi father brings of his son's health.
  • The son is much better, and the lama brags about Kim's mad skillz in healing to the watching Jain monks.
  • Kim offers the Punjabi farmer more medicine in case the sickness comes back—but this time, he has to pay with food.
  • At this temple, Kim has to eat lightly, and it's all vegetarian. He's starving, and he can barely wait while the lama finishes saying goodbye to all the monks.
  • Finally, they go to meet the Punjabi farmer, who is waiting with tons of food.
  • They all pig out.
  • Kim and the lama plan to board the train and head back up to the house of that Kulu woman from Chapter 4.
  • The Punjabi farmer is also going that way, so he will travel with them for a bit.

Kim's Day Job Interrupts His Happy Travels With The Lama

  • While they are riding the train north, something weird happens: A roughed-up Mahratta (now spelled Maratha) man comes into their train car, and Kim spots that this man has the same kind of silver amulet that Kim is wearing around his own neck.
  • There's no one in the car except for the lama, Kim, the Punjabi farmer, and his son.
  • So Kim takes a chance and displays his silver amulet.
  • The Mahratta man notices it and drops a reference to the "Son of the Charm" (11.118) in his next sentence.
  • When the lama starts boasting to the Mahratta about Kim as the "Friend of all the World" (11.127), Kim jumps in to say that he is also a "Son of the Charm" (11.128).
  • So now Kim knows that the Mahratta man is also an employee of the British Secret Service.
  • The two of them talk together quietly, while Kim pretends to be looking at the man's wounds.
  • The Mahratta is on the run from his enemies in the south, who have chased him from city to city—he has been so closely chased that he hasn't been able to deliver the secret letter that was his job.
  • The Mahratta is sure that, as soon as the train reaches the city of Delhi in about five or ten minutes, he's done for.
  • Kim decides to dress the guy up as a holy man, a Saddhu (now spelled Sadhu).
  • He makes the man strip down to his loin cloth, covers the man in ash (which is actually flour), and uses some of the red and yellow paints from his medicine box to add to the disguise.
  • And voilà—thanks to Kim's skill with disguise, where there once was a Mahratta, now there is a Hindu Saddhu.
  • The agent, E23, is impressed with Kim's skills; he also recognizes the signs of Lurgan's training.
  • The agent gulps down some opium pills to look authentically out of it and in a trance.
  • The Punjabi farmer and the child think that Kim has actually taken up shape-shifting and magic.
  • The Punjabi farmer also swears that he has seen nothing—not only is he grateful to Kim, but he is also afraid of him.