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The Novel, KIM by Rudyard Kipling Essay

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Updated: Dec 5th, 2019


Kim is an interesting novel authored by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in 1901. It is a novel that has attracted a lot of interest and readership due to the content or information contained therein and the lessons provided. It is an adventure story with an extremely stimulating plot that is characterized by war, intrigue, spies and mystery among other aspects.

The author leads us through a story of a young person, Kim, and what he encounters all through to maturity. Apart from Kim, an old lama man is also seen with respect to religious development. There is a close relationship between the two. This piece of work will give a review of the novel in regard to what the story is about and the various perspectives that can be derived from the author’s arguments.


There are many issues that can be depicted from the Kim novel. They include the author’s attitude towards the British government, his perception of human nature as well as how different concepts are portrayed for instance what it entails to be an intelligence officer and the requirements involved.

The novel is easy to navigate through due to presence of different levels arranged in chapters, which are easy to connect. This makes comprehension and understanding relatively easy. There are also three levels that are distinct in the book. First, we can consider the novel to be a story of adventure as we see the main character going to different places and having a wide range of experiences.

In the second level, we see the book as a drama of a little boy who entirely has his own way of life and doing things just to make life worth living. The third level on the other hand is the novel as a mystic unfolding of a behavior pattern as portrayed by the characters and the community of discussion (Kipling 11).

The novel describes various events that took place at around the time of the novel’s publications. Its setting is in India while it was still under the British Empire. As earlier mentioned, the story revolved around an orphan Irish boy. Due to his status, he grows up by himself in the streets of India with some support of a woman who is half-caste.

Kim realizes that there is a need to become part of the majority community and so he opts to behave as a native by learning various cultural and religious concepts of the different people in India. The author uses Kim to show us the many people and cultures that constitute India’s population. This is after Kim meets a lama man who was in dire need to find a sacred river and he decides to accompany him all over the subcontinent.

In his adventurous journeys, Kim comes across the army regiment that his father had belonged to, gains some interest in it, and approaches the Colonel.

It is after exchanging words with this boy that the colonel realizes how talented Kim was especially in regard to his understanding of the cultural diversity in India, an aspect that is extremely crucial in an individual for convenience and also for easy integration. For this reason, he decides to train him as a spy or intelligence officer. In this position, Kim undergoes a lot that form a great percentage of the novel (Kipling 27).

Even before Kim became a spy, he expressed a lot of intelligence in his behavior and undertakings. For instance, we find him pretending to be a prophet and say that he foresees a great war that was to happen involving eight thousand troops heading to the northern border. He got this idea from what he overheard in Umballa in his encounter with the colonel.

This incident attracts an old solder who had been an active individual on the British side in the Great Mutiny in the 19th century and in a way, goes an extra mile to being associated with Kim. This is especially after approaching and questioning him about the prophesy and due to Kim’s intelligence he manages to convince the soldier without any traces of doubt. This, therefore, increased his chances of advancement. The solder decides to accompany Kim and the lama man in their journey (Kipling 127).

From the narrative, one can clearly depict the author’s attitude towards the British government. Kipling was greatly critical about the liberal government. He was particularly an active individual to not only the leaders but also the imperial policies that ruled. This is clearly shown by his comments towards how the British government ruled.

The issue is, however, controversial based on the fact that the book was meant for children readership and hence could not have much hidden meaning. However, the novel’s strong imperial attitude renders Kim story as more than just an adventure story meant for children.

It is clear that Kipling tried to show a positive relationship that existed between the imperialist and the people. However, the author portrays the Indians to be inferior especially with respect to morality. Portraying the Indians negatively can be seen as a strategy for the author to show the strength of the British rule, in that, it was crucial in the correction of the moral wrongs that were present among the Indians for instance blind and irrational faith, hypocrisy as well as selfishness among others.

Another issue that can be seen in regard to the author’s attitude towards the British government is his biased pro-imperialist views. This can, for example, be seen in how he characterizes different individuals like the Sepoy soldier. The characterization in a way enhances the British imperial cause in India.

The Indian characters are as well portrayed to be in support of the British rule and thus their desire for it to continue. In a nutshell, the author promotes British imperialism in his work by showing how great it was at that time and the positive things it was able to accomplish and the benefits it brought to India (Kipling 202).

Human nature is an interesting aspect. According to the author of this novel human nature is not simple but rather a complex issue that needs to be understood in order to live well with people. Right from the beginning, the author talks of the diversity that is evident among the people living in India. There appear to be many cultural and religious differences among people in the region. Discrimination is also an issue that can be depicted in the novel.

We find little Kim having to familiarize himself with the ways of the natives in an attempt to survive in that land where aliens are not welcomed in a positive manner making their life in the place so uncomfortable. Although it is a hard thing to change ones ways of life it was the only way that could help him survive (Kipling 6).

Learning the diverse cultures of the people in India was, however, an advantage to Kim as it helped him overcome various challenges he would otherwise have faced. It also helped him secure a job as an intelligence officer since he would be able to investigate and deal with individuals of all caliber. His ability to relate to people of different kinds is a strong point that makes Kim stand out among other people who could in one way or the other be discriminative while handling individuals based on their cultural or religious differences.

The novel indicates that being an intelligence officer is not an easy task but one that requires a strong personality. For instance, we find Kim being admired by the old soldier mainly because of his intelligence. He also pleases the colonel due to his understanding of the different issues that surround different communities and cultures. For this reason, he is considered for training as a spy. This, therefore, depicts that there is much to this position than just educational qualifications.

One needs to be sharp and to have an open mind, always ready to capture what is going on. It is also advisable to learn to integrate with different kinds of people. Even in the contemporary world, an intelligence officer is an individual who is highly ranked and thus requires a lot of skills to carry out his or her duties successfully. An intelligence officer is charged with the responsibility of collecting, analyzing and retaining information on activities that are deemed to pose a threat to a country and its citizens.

The novel is exhaustive with the author presenting a diversity of ideas in all perspectives including economic, social as well as political. At the end of the novel, Kipling gives an overview of the all the encounters described in the novel including a comparison of the condition in which India was before the British rule and what it came to be after the rule.

This is shown through the transformation of Kim from the beginning of the story all through to the end of novel. British rule came along with the concept of cultural order in India. Initially, Kim did not want to disclose his identity while in India due to discrimination that existed by thereafter, everything is okay.


From the above discussion, it is evident that there is much to be learnt from the novel. The narrative is quite impressive sweeping the reader into the main character’s (Kim) adventures as he lives by his intelligence in a land full of difficulties and threats as well as harsh cultures.

The issue of diversity of religion in India is also well portrayed, for instance, the presence of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism as well as Hinduism and their coexistence. It is the adventures that Kim goes through as a little boy and more so as a spy, his relationship with the lama man and the skill and exciting writing of Rudyard Kipling that has made this novel interesting and recognized by many.

Works Cited

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. UK: House of Stratus, 2009.

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