Describe the way Kipling uses credible ideas to create his explanation in  "How the Leopard got its Spots." In other words, what makes the ideas he uses seem believable or logical?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some historical context will help. 

Rudyard Kipling lived from 1865-1936. He was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) and also lived in Lahore (now a city in Pakistan) as a teenager. While he was there he saw many exotic things. During this time, he may have even seen leopards, which are indigenous to India. 

When a child or even an adult sees a leopard in the jungle, one of the things that impresses him or her is the ability of a leopard to camouflage itself. It blends in perfectly with the surroundings. Kipling's story makes this observation.

"Now you are a beauty!"said the Ethiopian. "You can lie out on the bare ground and look like a heap of pebbles. You can lie out on the naked rocks and look like a piece of pudding-stone. You can lie out on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the leaves; and you can lie right across the centre of a path and look like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!"

The natural question is how did the leopard become like this. The answer the short story gives is the Ethiopian made him like this, so that the leopard would be able to hunt and survive. In a sense, this is an answer that is consistent with evolution.

When we consider that Darwin lived from 1809 -1882 and was popular during the lifetime of Kipling, then it is not a far stretch of the imagination to say that the framework of Kipling's work is one that is consistent with the theory of evolution. This point gives credibility to the story. The leopard not only migrated but also changed the pattern of his skin to survive. Consider how the story ends:

"Now come along and we’ll see if we can’t get even with Mr. One-Two- Three-Where’s-your-Breakfast!"

From this perspective, Kipling's story can be read as a children's story of how animals survive, evolution for children? 

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