What Kind Of Roadmap In Life Is Conveyed In The Poem

What kind of road map for life is conveyed in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "road map for life" that Kipling's "If" creates is one that guides the reader to choose the high road over the low one. The advice in the poem maps out ways in which one can live life with integrity and high moral standards without losing one's own self-confidence or sense of self-worth. For example, it is easy to take the low road, or choose to fight back, rather than to accept another's poor decisions. Yes, sometimes a person becomes a victim because someone else's choices hurt them, but it is better to remain strong on the inside rather than to stoop to that person's lower level of character by doing exactly what they did in the first place.

Throughout Kipling's poem, reference is made to specific types of events or feelings that will happen in life, and these are like signposts for the road map. For instance, one signpost might say, "trust yourself when all men doubt you," while another sign might say, ". . . being lied about, don't deal in lies" (lines 3 and 6). If one remembers these signs when they actually happen in life, then one can also remember not to let these things influence them to the point of quitting or giving up on their own dreams. For example, if a man loses his job at some point in life, he can remember, "And lose, and start again at your beginnings / And never breathe a word about your loss" (lines 19-20). This will help him to know that he is not the only one who has had to start over in life, and that he can do it gracefully and not hold a grudge by continually revisiting it in his mind or talking about it with others.

Kipling's "If" not only gives good advice, but it warns young people about life's ups and downs. It tells them that if they remain humble in every situation on life's road, the journey will be a lot easier in the end.