How do the Lama and Kim's quests intertwine? Are they Symbolic? How do they mutually fulfill each others needs?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

On one level, the quests that Kim and Tenshoo Lama undergo are reflective of the need to find "something more."  Both of their quests intertwine because there is a fundamental dissatisfaction in the world around them.  For Kim, he is an orphan and estranged from any sort of connection to others.  Reflected in his skin tone, he is "the other," in the form of not being purely Indian and not being purely British.  Kim seeks to find some level of belonging in the world, reflective of how easily he moves between different cultural settings.  His lack of belonging to any of them is reflective of how he searches for longing, attachment of some kind.  Tenshoo Lama is searching to disconnect himself from said attachment.  His desire to find the Holy River and transcend the pain of samsara (continual rebirth) is what drives him.  While Kim does not belong to any world and seeks to connect, Tenshoo Lama belongs to this world and seeks to disconnect.  In both desires, there is an intertwining of quest and a convergence of narrative.  As both meet for a moment and then part, Tenshoo Lama finds enlightenment through his attachment to Kim's safety, and Kim finds belonging in his status as a "man of the world."  In this convergence, both fulfill the needs of the other.  Kim finds attachment, while Tenshoo Lama selflessly gives himself towards someone else, something larger than his own being.

To a great extent, there is a symbolism in conditions of each quest.  The symbolism exists in how human beings can find solidarity with others.  Even if they perceive themselves to be fundamentally different and isolated from a larger condition, human beings can connect with others. Kim and the Lama do not seem to be able to connect to anyone.  Tenshoo Lama might just not want to and Kim recognizes that few will take him.  Yet, in both, each one finds a companion.  When Tenshoo Lama speaks to the purpose of humanity, he articulates a vision in which there is no real separation or isolation:  “To those who follow the Way there is neither black nor white, Hind nor Bhotiyal. We be all souls seeking to escape.”   In the desire to "escape," we can find people and recognize in them the same experiences we endure.  This makes the struggles of this birth, this condition of samsara, something a bit more bearable.  Being able to find another person in our pain helps to alleviate some of it.  In this reality, there is a symbolism in the convergence of the quests that Kim and Tenshoo Lama experience.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial