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In "The Man Who Would Be King," how are Carnehan and Dravot different?
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High School Teacher
"The Man Who Would Be King" is a famous short story by Rudyard Kipling about two men, Carnehan and Dravot, who try to set themselves up as kings among the native peoples of Afghanistan.
While they have similar goals, Carnehan and Dravot are different in some key areas. The most obvious is their direct plans of ruling; Carnehan is content to be a king, leading his people and developing a kingdom, while Dravot aspires to godhood and tries to fully subjugate his people.
Another difference is in their attitudes towards the natives:
"'There’s another thing too,' says Dravot, walking up and down. 'The winter's coming and these people won't be giving much trouble, and if they do we can't move about. I want a wife.'
"'For Gord's sake leave the women alone!' I says. 'We've both got all the work we can, though I am a fool. Remember the Contrack, and keep clear o' women.'"
(Kipling, "The Man Who Would Be King," gutenberg.org)
While Carnehan is committed to their original plan, to train the natives into military might and oversee an eventual Empire, Dravot is thinking only about himself. He is satisfied with his godly status among the natives and now wants to exploit them further, taking their women as his own; this would be the ultimate example of his superiority over them. Carnehan, though, understands that they cannot afford to be distracted, and so opposes this plan.
Finally, their fates are different; while Dravot continues to fight and insist on his entitlements, Carnehan somehow survives his ordeal. At that point, all Carnehan wants is to escape, but the natives keep him in their temple and feed him, thinking him more a god than Dravot, a fate he never wanted in the first place. In the eyes of the natives, Dravot dies a man, and Carnehan survives a god.
Posted by belarafon on March 30, 2012 at 1:35 AM (Answer #1)
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