Study Guide

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from The Jungle Book Courage & Bravery

By Rudyard Kipling

Courage & Bravery

Bravery sets Rikki-tikki apart from the other characters. Darzee isn't brave; he just cowers in his nest, hiding from Nag and Nagaina. Chuchundra isn't brave; he comes out at night to avoid danger. But Rikki-tikki, oh yeah, that guy is brave. He fearlessly jumps into a battle with Karait to save Teddy from certain death. He follows Nagaina into her cobra den to bring their battle to a permanent close. With the story presenting a type of moral lesson through talking animals à la an Aesop fable, one thing becomes clear: in the garden of life, definitely be the mongoose.

Questions About Courage & Bravery

  1. Do you think Nagaina is a courageous character or not? Explain your answer with evidence from the story.
  2. Create two lists. On one list goes the brave characters, on another the cowardly ones (a possible third list is the neutral characters). Look at the brave characters. Based on the names there, what can you say about this theme in the story? Does comparing them to the more cowardly characters open up any new suggestions? What are they?
  3. Seeing "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" as a fable, what lesson is the story trying to teach the reader in light of Rikki-tikki's bravery? Do you agree with this lesson? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Rikki-tikki isn't a brave character. Since it's his nature to fight cobras, his fights are less about courage and more about natural instinct overriding all else.

Chuchundra knows about Nag and Nagaina's temperament. So, his helping Rikki-tikki is actually a brave act despite his overall cowardice.