The Jungle Book Questions and Answers
by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the theme of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Mowgli's story)

Expert Answers info

mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from The University of Alabama

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

One theme is the importance of the preservation of the species.

In The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, the wolves do not harm the child because they know that harming a human can bring other humans upon them, endangering them. Thus, there is a certain respect for the order of every species and its place in nature--a theme that prevails throughout the book. These species must also protect themselves, and if force and domination are necessary for the preservation of a species, then that species must behave accordingly. For, always the continuation of each species is paramount.

In "The White Seal," for instance there is a tribe of seals threatened by greedy hunters who kill the seals for their skins. When Kotick discovers a inland sea that is protected by only a single entrance, he urges the seal community to migrate to this sea in order to be safe from the hunters.  But, the tribe is lethargic and unwilling to go; consequently, Kotick must use force in conquering the males who have resisted. Then, he is able to save the seals from the malevolent hunters. In this episode, therefore, Kipling points to the necessary use of force for good ends, such as  preserving a species. 

Another theme is that among the species, man is the most dangerous. When a child enters into the community of wolves, the wolves realize that they must protect this child because he will disrupt the order of the wolves if harm comes to him. For, then, man will encroach upon his territory and slaughter them. 

The real reason for this is that man killing means sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns and hundreds of brown men with gons and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers.

The use of excessive force is viewed by the animals as an evil thing. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial