Study Guide

The White Man's Burden Summary

By Rudyard Kipling

The White Man's Burden Summary

Listen up, Shmoopers. Our speaker's got some strong recommendations that he wants to get off his chest. For starters, he wants white people (well, white men) to "Send forth the best ye breed" to go into "exile" and help their "captives." They should use small words and patiently repeat themselves in order to give aid to these other people.

More specifically, white men should help stop famine and disease, even though the folks whom they're helping are going to try to ruin everything by being foolish and lazy. This won't be glamorous work, and they may not even get to see the fruits of their labor pay off—they might even die in the attempt—but white people should make the sacrifice anyway.

Sure, the folks they're going to help will hate them—but that's just because they don't know what a huge favor the white men will be doing for them. This is a test, white men (says our speaker). It's a test of their inner strength, but they should not falter because they're going to be judged by how committed they are to this work. Not only are the natives going to judge them, but so are their peers. And that's all this racially-insensitive motivational speaker has to say.