Study Guide

The Jungle Book Violence

By Rudyard Kipling

Violence

"Stir a whisker, Lungri, and I ram the Red Flower down thy gullet!" [Mowgli] beat Shere Khan over the head with the branch and the tiger whimpered and whined in an agony of fear. (1.136)

Yikes, Mowgli is fearless. Would you whack a tiger in the face with a flaming stick?

"Is there anything in the Jungle too little to be killed?" (3.3)

Mowgli isn't safe in the jungle just because he's a child. In fact, his kid status makes him even more vulnerable to animals, who love an easy victim.

"Better he should be bruised from head to foot by me who love him than that he should come to harm through ignorance." (3.5)

Baloo shows his love and discipline through a few "love taps" he administers to Mowgli when he misbehaves. Better a tap from Baloo than being hurt by an animal that means him harm.

A scuffling mass of monkeys, biting, scratching, tearing, and pulling, closed over Bagheera. (3.113)

The fight with the monkeys is pretty rough and tumble, and despite talking big, Bagheera is no match against them. He's out of commission fairly quickly.

Then from the ruined wall nearest the Jungle rose up the rumbling war-shout of Baloo. (3.119)

Baloo may seem kind of dopey and kind, but he's no Gentle Ben. When it comes time to save Mowgli, Baloo kicks some serious monkey butt.

Shere Khan needed no more trampling. He was dead, and the kites were coming for him already. (5.71)

Shere Khan suffers one of the grossest, most humiliating deaths we've ever read. He's napping, and Mowgli just tramples him with a buffalo, turning him into a tiger-skin rug. Ouch.

Ten minutes later little Kotick did not recognize his little friends any more, for their skins were ripped off from the nose to the hind flippers—whipped off and thrown down on the ground in a pile. (7.41)

Whoa… This might be the most gruesome depiction of violence in the book, and it marks a moment where "little Kotick" (note the word choice) loses his innocence.

[Kotick] flung himself at the biggest sea-catch he could find, caught him by the throat, choked him and bumped him and banged him until he grunted for mercy, and then threw him aside and attacked the next. (7.97)

Seals seem cute, but man, they play rough. The only way to solve a problem in the seal community isn't with discussion—it's with feats of strength that would make Mike Tyson proud.

Rikki-tikki had sprung, jumped on the snake's back […] bitten as high up the back as he could get hold, and rolled away. (9.37)

The fights in "Rikki-tikki-tavi" are super fierce and violent. No wonder mother was initially scared of having the mongoose near her baby—he doesn't play around.

"Well, I got cut across the chest once, but that wasn't Dick's fault." (13.40)

In "Her Majesty's Servants," the animals talk about whether or not they've been hurt during the course of war. Dick Cunliffe's horse doesn't blame his rider, even though it's men who are driving them to battle in the first place.