Who does the poem "If" term as impostors?  

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If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
In lines 11–12 of his poem "If," Rudyard Kipling states that Triumph and Disaster are both impostors. Triumph and Disaster represent two possible outcomes that a young man might encounter as he pursues the "dreams" of line 9. Triumph is achieving the thing the young man dreamed of doing, and Disaster means not achieving it, and possibly having something dire occur instead.
In what sense are both of these outcomes impostors? An impostor is one who pretends to be someone he is not in order to deceive another. Achievement can seem like triumph, but it really depends on what the achievement is and what the motives behind it were. The poem speaks about truth and virtue. If success is achieved without truth or virtue, then it is an impostor, not actually a Triumph. On the other hand, sometimes not succeeding, not achieving a goal, but failing miserably, can seem like a Disaster when it is really a growth experience that will strengthen a person and redirect him toward a better goal, one that may not have previously been considered. In that case, Disaster is an impostor, and it is really success.
Looked at another way, Triumph and Disaster can both be impostors if a person lets them define him. If a young man believes that he is only successful when he experiences Triumph, or that he is a failure when he experiences Disaster, he is letting outside circumstances define him. This poem emphasizes the importance of grooming the inner man—building strong character and behaving in an upright and virtuous manner no matter what. A young man who knows who he is will not be swayed by the impostors of either Triumph or Disaster when they try to define him—because he knows his identity is based on inner character, not on outward events.
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