“Mowgli’s Brothers” was first published in May of 1894 as one of seven stories included in Rudyard Kipling’s collection The Jungle Book. Several years after first outlining the traits and personality of his character Mowgli, Kipling published The Jungle Book, which was considered “the literary event” of 1894. Kipling is known for his colorful depictions of characters, both human and animal, and for setting, most often the jungles of India, and his predilection for delivering a moral or lesson. “Mowgli’s Brothers” is no exception. It is the story of the orphaned boy, Mowgli, who is adopted by a pack of wolves and must learn how to live in the jungle with the pack. The tale is rich in self-exploration and the search for personal identity.
The story exemplifies the struggle between Mowgli’s learned traits as a wolf and his innate traits as a man. The two mutually exclusive identities create great difficulty for Mowgli as he attempts to be both what he is by birth and what he has become in the jungle. Through his attention to the Law of the Jungle, Mowgli is proven a worthy member of the pack. Yet, through his innate human faculties, he possesses a power that is enviable among the jungle creatures. In the polar characteristics of Mowgli’s complex identity as wolf and man, Kipling constructs a didactic framework from which he delivers lessons and morals.
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