What rewards did Kipling suggest the White Man gets from carrying his burden?

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droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his poem "The White Man's Burden," Kipling is addressing the US; the subtitle refers to the US–Philippine war of 1899–1902. Kipling makes clear that the "old reward" of the white man who goes into another country to rule, with whatever good intentions, is really no reward at all. Rather, such a conquering country will gain "the blame of those ye better, the hate of those ye guard". As the conquering country attempts to "humor" the conquered people "towards the light"—that is, turn them towards Christianity and a Western idea of what civilization should be—the people in question will reward the white man by crying, "Why brought ye us from bondage, our loved Egyptian night!"

The final stanza of the poem states that the white man's burden upon conquering another nation in this way also involves receiving "the judgment of your peers" and behaving in this way is "thankless," even if the conqueror believes he will be relieving suffering and ending famine.