Rudyard Kipling Questions and Answers

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Please write a summary of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

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schulzie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The poem is a father defining for his son the qualities of a good man.. He is setting the parameters or boundaries for his son and giving him a goal to achieve.  The poem deals with life’s  challenges and how to deal with them.

Stanza one deals with being confident about the decisions you make and taking responsibility for those decisions. If others, who cannot take that responsibility for themselves  react negatively, you will be patient with them and not reduce yourself to their level by telling lies or dealing in hate. However, don’t ever think you are above anyone else. 

Stanza Two  states that it is good to dream, but don’t let your dreams control your life.  It is good to think, but don’t just think and not put those thoughts into action.  You will experience triumph and disasters in your life, but don’t take them seriously because they are not the substance of life, they are the extremes.  If you hear things you said misused  or things you have done destroyed, you need to be able to pick yourself up and rebuild them with everything that you have left in you.

Stanza Three counsels don’t be afraid to take risks and possibly lose everything. If you do lose everything, don’t talk about it, just start all over again at the beginning.   When you are tired and exhausted and your body just feels like it can’t continue on, use your mind and your will to tell yourself to “Hold on” and persevere. Push through it.

Stanza four deals with a person’s reaction to others.  You need to be able to talk to large groups of people and yet not let them influence your belief in what is right,wrong, moral, or immoral.  You need to be able to walk with men of power and influence and yet not forget the common man and his needs. You need to know yourself and your beliefs so well that neither your friends nor your enemies can hurt you because you know who you are and what you stand for.  People can depend on you, but don’t let others become too dependent on you. You need to live every single minute of your life to the fullest.  If you do these things, then the world is yours, and you will be  a good man.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This poem, “If,” by Rudyard Kipling is a father's attempt to provide his son with specific values to live by in life. “If” first appeared in Kipling's collection “Rewards and Fairies” in 1909. It is his effort to define a balance in life for his son, but it can be studied and used by everyone. Kipling is using these values to define what makes a man a man. He writes “If” to urge to his son not to be too much of any one thing, but to live life fully regardless of his successes or failures. He is saying to his son that yes, he may ultimately want to be successful, but in doing so don't sacrifice important values and be a man of integrity and strength. This poem gives an indication of the things one can strive to accomplish and maintain in maturing and becoming an adult with integrity. To "Walk with kings--nor lose the common touch."  To become a man isn't just one event, but a series of attributes developed over a lifetime. The poem is a set of rules for grown-up living and contains maxims for life. Ultimately the poem is a blueprint for personal integrity, behavior and self-development.

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nitesh22 | Student

in this a person cares of his son so that he could become successful man

shymgnsh1995 | Student

'If' by 'Rudyard Kipling' is message conveyed from the poet to his son. It is a didactic poem(a poem having the manner of an authoritarian teacher or a poem meant to instruct). It shows us that the father is conveying a message to his son of how to be a man and have the qualities of stoisism, and having a moral, ethical behaviour.