For the climax of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," the author could have chosen to have Rikki killed when he followed Nagaina into the hole. How could this change affect the story? Would the story continue after this? What could have happened?

If Nagaina had managed to kill Rikki, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" would have changed from a miniature epic into a tragedy. This might have ended either with the triumph of Nagaina as the garden is overrun by cobras or with the English family avenging Rikki by killing her.

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In Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," Darzee the tailor-bird believes that Rikki has doomed himself to certain death by following Nagaina into her hole and even begins to compose a death lament for the brave, reckless mongoose. If Rikki had actually been killed by the cobra, the story would certainly have a very different effect on the reader and would not belong in The Jungle Book. As it stands, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is a miniature epic, with the hero defending his people more effectively than most epic heroes have managed to do. Rikki's death would change the genre of the story, making it a tragedy.

Of the numerous possibilities for ending the story after Rikki's death, two seem particularly fitting and in line with the new tragic tone of the story. There could be an epilogue or continuation in which the garden becomes overrun with snakes and Nagaina reestablishes herself as its queen, forcing the family to leave the bungalow. Alternatively, the tragedy could become a revenge tragedy. Since Darzee and Chuchundra are clearly not suited to the task of fighting Nagaina, it would fall to the English family in the bungalow to avenge Rikki's death. Perhaps after Teddy's close call, they might even enlist outside help from some army unit with expertise in dealing with poisonous snakes.

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