Study Guide

The Jungle Book Coming of Age

By Rudyard Kipling

Coming of Age

The protagonists of almost all the stories of The Jungle Book—all three Mowgli chapters; Kotick, the white seal; and Little Toomai—are all children, or as they're known in the jungle, cubs or pups. But there comes a time when all cubs and pups must grow up into big-bad bears or bulls or men. And that time is usually near the end of a story, when things are getting nice and dramatic.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. What moments mark the transition for Mowgli/Kotick/Toomai from child to adult? How can you tell?
  2. Is the jungle's version of adult different than society's version? If so, how? And if not, explain the overlap.
  3. Were any of these characters actually children to begin with? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Mowgli is forced to come of age early because there is no such thing as adolescence in the jungle.

Both Kotick and Toomai end up becoming like better versions of their fathers in their respective stories. Kotick becomes a leader, but leads his fellow seals to safety, and Toomai becomes an elephant handler, but one who has seen the secret elephant dance, unlike his father or anyone else.

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