Study Guide

The Bandar-log—(The Monkeys) in The Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling

The Bandar-log—(The Monkeys)

Monkey See, Monkey Don't

The monkeys of the jungle, also known as the Bandar-log, think they're above everyone else—literally. They seduce Mowgli with the promise of food and freedom at a time Mowgli is being forced to study and practice day after day with Baloo. With Baloo, it's all work; the Bandar-log promise to "play all day" (3.31). Ah, the sweet life of swinging through the trees…

Just as monkeys are close to man on the evolutionary scale, the Bandar-log are the closest equivalent to man in The Jungle Book. The men's village is set apart from the jungle, and the animals stay away, and similarly, the Bandar-log roost high above the jungle, and the animals avoid them, too.

Monkeyshines

However, the Bandar-log are even worse than humans. The Jungle Book suggests that Mowgli possesses a sort of genetic memory—"Mowgli, as a woodcutter's child, inherited all sorts of instincts" (3.40)— but the Bandar-log are barely able to remember what they ate for breakfast: "their memories would not hold over from day to day" (3.39). They live in a city that they don't take care of—"They never knew what the buildings were made for nor how to use them" (3.105)—and they have no rules or laws. Unlike the Disney version, there's no King Louie or any sort of hierarchy at all.

Mowgli believes that the monkeys have the madness, which is "is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature" (1.2). But they're not mad, just disorganized, and maybe that's why they're so susceptible to Kaa's hypnosis, which is their ultimate downfall. He's able to hypnotize them and lead them away for a delicious snack. But we imagine it's only a matter of time before they renew their numbers and continue wreaking careless havoc in the jungle.

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