Describe the language and style of Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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There are many points to consider when thinking about Kipling's use of language and his authorial style of writing. One point in his use of language is his reliance on verbs and prepositions. Kipling innovated a heavy use of verbs to make his narrative more sleek and action oriented. His contemporaries were still writing with descriptive flourish, like Robert Louis Stevenson (Kidnapped and Treasure Island) and Sir H. Rider Haggard (Cleopatra and She). An example of Kipling's preference for verbs occurs the opening words: "He sat,..."

The questions Kipling continually orients his narrative to, after using verbs to address What?, are Where? and When? This is also visible in the opening line: "He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher...." Along with the verb "sat," there are five locative (location orienting) or other relationship prepositions: in, of, astride, on, opposite (functioning as a preposition). Another reliance Kipling has is on proper nouns to indirectly establish location: Zam Zammah, the old Ajaib-Gher, Lahore Museum all reveal the location of the narrative to be India for those familiar with the form of Indian words or somewhere exotic for those not familiar.

Regarding authorial style, Kipling introduces Kim in the second paragraph and his description of Kim is woven in with a deeper characterization that establishes his background: "Though he was burned black.., though he spoke the vernacular (language)...,...Kim was white." For descriptive additions to characterization, Kipling weaves descriptors, like the adverb confusedly, into dialogue or action: "...she said, confusedly remembering O'Hara's prophecies...." Character background in Kim is given by way of flashback that leads back to present time narrative:

...Sometimes there was food in the house, more often there was not, and then Kim went out again to eat with his native friends.
As he drummed his heels against Zam-Zammah...

As with characterization, movement forward in the narrative streaks ahead with almost no descriptive words but rather with one fact after another joined together with coordinating clauses, subordinate clauses, independent clauses and relative clauses as in: "The half-caste woman who looked after him (she smoked opium, and pretended to keep a second-hand furniture shop by the square where the cheap cabs wait) told the missionaries that she was Kim's mother's sister; but his mother had been nursemaid in a Colonel's family and had married Kimball O'Hara, a young colour-sergeant of the Mavericks, an Irish regiment." this sentence gives information about three people and the information is joined by three relative clauses (who, where, that), one subordinte clause ("opium, and pretended "), one independent clause ("sister; but his") and one dependent coordinting clause  ("and had married").

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