Study Guide

The Jungle Book Setting

By Rudyard Kipling

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The Jungle and the Sea

The Jungle

The Jungle Book is obviously set in the jungle. But which jungle? The Kipling Society places The Jungle Book in the Central Provinces of India, near Seoni (hence the "Seeonee" Wolf Pack mentioned throughout the Mowgli chapters). Unlike in "Rikki-tikki-tavi," where the setting gets a little more muddled in terms of post-colonialism, the jungle in Mowgli's chapters is separate from the village nearby, and both the animals and the people like to keep it that way.

In fact, one of the biggest conflicts is Shere Khan's incompetence, which causes the human world and the animal world to mix in a very bad way. He has a tendency to eat human children, which makes the humans angry. And when the humans are angry, they set things on fire. And when the jungle is on fire, none of the animals come out on top.

The Bering Sea

We have to mention that part of this alleged "Jungle" book takes place in the Bering Sea, which is decidedly not the jungle, and closer to Sarah Palin's house than it is to India.

On the islands in the Bering Sea, the dynamic between animals and humans is different. The seals don't seem to care one way or the other about the humans, even though the humans there are much more dangerous than the humans in the jungle. The only interaction between humans and seals is when the humans lead the seals away, club them, and skin them.

This provides the main motivation for Kotick, who wants to find an island safe from men. Unlike in the Mowgli stories, all the men in this story are evil to Kotick. Importantly, in "The White Seal" the men in question here are specifically Aleuts and we're told "Aleuts are not clean people" (7.33) by our narrator, who might be a little racist.

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