Study Guide

The Jungle Book Chapter 7

By Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 7

The White Seal

  • The Jungle Book becomes the ocean book for this chapter, which is set at a place called Novastoshnah in the Bering Sea.
  • We're told "Nobody comes to Novastoshnah except on business and the only people who have regular business there are the seals" (7.2). So… nobody comes here, then, yes?
  • It's a fine little beach where all the seals gather, feed, mate, and play. It sounds like a Club Med for seals. (Emphasis on the Club.)
  • We first focus on a big fifteen-year-old grey fur-seal named Sea Catch; he's pretty much undefeated in any fight.
  • When Sea Catch's wife, Matkah, gives birth to a never-before-seen snow white seal named Kotick, Kotick becomes the protagonist of our story.
  • He scrambles around the rocks, playing king of the castle, learning to swim, and doing things seals do (balancing balls on his nose, marrying Heidi Klum, etc.)—Kotick was "always learning" (7.28).
  • One day he swims out with all the young seals to a new island to party and dance, and Kotick learns something new: that men come along and kill them.
  • Some men show up and lead all the seals away, but they're scared of Kotick, so they leave him behind.
  • Kotick follows, and sees "the men clubbed the seal on the head as fast as they could" (7.40).
  • Then, like Mowgli skinning Shere Khan, they strip the seals of their skin.
  • Kotick runs away and tells a sea lion what happen. The sea lion is like, no way, dude, that would never happen, but after Kotick convinces him it's real, the sea lion, who would shrug if sea lions could shrug, tells Kotick that it will continue to happen unless he finds an island where men don't go.
  • He sends Kotick to Walrus Islet to talk to Sea Vitch, another walrus, for tips.
  • Sea Vitch sends Kotick to talk to Sea Cow, although he doesn't say what Sea Cow looks like. (Our guess? Like this.)
  • Kotick returns to Novastoshnah to talk to his parents, who both tell him "you will never be able to stop killing" (7.62), so just keep playing while all your friends die, kid—that's life. Or in this case, that's death.
  • Dad's advice is weak, so Kotick keeps looking for a safe island.
  • But after five months of searching, he still hasn't found what he's looking for. His mother begs him to marry and settle down, so he does the "Fire-dance" (7.71) with a hot seal babe then sets off on one last exploration.
  • And he finds the Sea Cow. How now, Sea Cow?
  • The Sea Cow is mute, but when it swims away, Kotick follows it… right to a beach were "no men had ever come" (7.84). Boo ya.
  • He makes his way home and tells all the other seals about it. They laugh at him.
  • One young seal agrees to follow Kotick to the new beach if he can beat him in a fight, so Kotick proceeds to do just that to this seal as well as a few others, without getting a scratch.
  • So a bunch of seals follow him to the safe beach, and each year more and more of the slower thinkers follow as well. Kotick marries and gets fat and happy and never gets clubbed.

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