How would you describe the mongoose in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" by Rudyard Kipling?
In Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," he describes how a mongoose looks, sounds, and moves. Since this is a fantasy story, Kipling also gives the mongoose in this story, Rikki, a personality. A mongoose's fur and tail is similar to a cat's, but its head looks like a weasel's. When attacking or excited, it makes the chattering sound that gives Rikki his name: "Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!"
The way a mongoose moves is described in the story. First, Rikki almost always moves quickly. He is described as running, scuttling, and dancing along. He moves a lot. He is called a "restless companion" for Teddy because he gets up often during the night to check on things. A mongoose can jump faster than a snake can strike. Kipling points out no human eye "can follow the motion of a snake's head when it strikes," and people often mistakenly believe that a snake has bitten a mongoose, when in fact the mongoose has been able to jump clear of the snake. That's what Rikki does when Nagaina first goes after him from behind. When Rikki battles with Karait, the little snake, he performs a "peculiar rocking, swaying motion he had inherited from his family." Kipling says it looks funny, but it is very effective in fighting snakes. When he fights Nagaina, Rikki bounds all around and dances in a circle around her, avoiding her lightning-fast strikes. He then runs after her across the grass and catches her, latching onto her tail and going down the rat hole with her. His contented movement after his victory is to lick his whiskers and curl up in the grass to go to sleep.
Rikki's personality in the story is what one might expect from a mongoose because of its behavior. Rikki is highly curious and needs to investigate everything. He is brave, as he is willing to face the huge cobra, Nag, even though he is still very young. He is clever, creating a plan to lure Nagaina away from her eggs so he can destroy them while they are easy to kill. He is persistent, not giving up until he has rid the garden of all the snakes.
After reading this story, readers have a good sense of a mongoose's looks, sounds, motions, and even potential (hypothetical) personality traits.
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