How effectively does the description of Nag in paragraph 23 of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" evoke the image that he is a snake to be feared? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer.

Expert Answers

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

Rikki-tikki-tavi meets up with a tailor bird called Darzee and his wife. The birds are in a miserable mood, crying over the loss of one of their chicks. The baby fell out of their nest and was soon gobbled up by Nag, the deadly cobra. Rikki tikki is rather naive...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Rikki-tikki-tavi meets up with a tailor bird called Darzee and his wife. The birds are in a miserable mood, crying over the loss of one of their chicks. The baby fell out of their nest and was soon gobbled up by Nag, the deadly cobra. Rikki tikki is rather naive and doesn't know anything about this strange creature of which Darzee speaks.

But he finds out soon enough. As Nag creeps up behind Rikki-tikki, Darzee and his wife cower in fear. Kipling uses very vivid language in this part of the story to convey the cobra's frightening appearance. First of all, the refers to the sound that Nag makes:

[F]rom the thick grass at the foot of the bush there came a low hiss—a horrid cold sound that made Rikki-tikki jump back two clear feet.

As subsequent events will show, Rikki tikki's certainly no coward, but even he's more than a little spooked by the sudden appearance of this deadly snake. The sound that Nag makes is so horrible that it makes the little mongoose jump back a full two feet.

Then Kipling goes on to describe how Nag looks:

Then inch by inch out of the grass rose up the head and spread hood of Nag, the big black cobra, and he was five feet long from tongue to tail.

Nag's slow, gradual rise from out of the grass makes him appear even more scary. And when he finally raises himself up to his full height, we can understand just why little creatures such as the tailor birds are so petrified of him. For good measure, Nag fixes Rikki-tikki with the kind of cold stare that could frighten just about everyone:

[H]e looked at Rikki-tikki with the wicked snake's eyes that never change their expression, whatever the snake may be thinking of.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team