Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The basic stylistic technique of the story is Kipling’s structuring it in a sort of parody of biblical history, complete with numerous biblical allusions. The purpose of these allusions is to give Peachey’s tale an externally imposed story framework, indeed the most basic and dignified story framework in Western culture. Once Dravot projects himself into the role of god as king and thus assumes a position in the kingdom as the fulfillment of prophecy and legend (although it must be remembered that Peachey and Dravot are themselves the authors of their own legend), he is bound to this particular role. It is only when he wishes to escape the preestablished role and marry an Indian girl that his world falls apart. When he is bitten by his frightened intended bride, the cry, “Neither God nor Devil, but a man,” breaks the spell of the story world and propels Dravot and Peachey out of the fictional reality of their own making and back into reality again.

Peachey and Dravot are not so much two separate characters as they are double figures; this is indicated not only by Peachey’s references to himself as suffering Dravot’s fate, but also by the fact that if Dravot is the ambiguous god-man, then it is Peachey who must be crucified. Kipling finds it necessary to make this character split in his story, for he must not only have his god-man die but also have him resurrected. Thus, it is necessary to have two characters in order to create the mythic...

(The entire section is 523 words.)