What is the moral of the book Kim?

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The moral of the novel Kim is that one should be loyal to his or her country. Kim, the protagonist, is raised in Lahore, India, but he is the son of Irish parents. His father, now dead, was a soldier who passed along a prophecy to Kim—that he will find fortune when he encounters a red bull on a green field. Later, Kim finds this red bull, which is the flag of his father's unit in the British military. Ultimately, though Kim is raised so that he can seem like a native-born person in India and can speak Urdu, he joins the British Secret Service to help the British win the "Great Game." This is the battle that the British fought against Russia to gain control of Central Asia. In the end, Kim aids in this quest. Though he feels a sense of kinship with the Buddhist lama he meets, Kim is ultimately loyal to the British people, as his parents were.

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The moral of Kim, perhaps unsettling to modern sensibilities, is that British imperialism is good for India. What most fully brings peace and unity to the land is for it to be ruled by the white British, who have lived there most of their lives and been brought up in India's ways. They can then rule with understanding. For example, an older Indian woman has an exchange with a British police constable. The woman asks him who nursed him as an infant. He responds it was an Indian, then jokingly tells the ugly woman who asked him the question to hide her "beauty":

'A pahareen—a hillwoman of Dalhousie, my mother. Keep thy beauty under a shade—O Dispenser of Delights,' and he was gone.

The Indian woman then says that it is constables like this one, raised in India, who are best fit to "oversee justice," i.e. rule:

'These be the sort'—she took a fine judicial tone, and stuffed her mouth with pan—'These be the sort to oversee justice. They know the land and the customs of the land.

Kim, too, an Irish person raised among the Indians, represents the ideal of an India prospering under British rule and guidance. There is no sense in the novel that the Indians might be better off ruling themselves.

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