Why does Shere Khan want to kill Mowgli in The Jungle Book?

Quick answer:

Shere Khan wants to kill Mowgli because he hates and fears humans. They challenge his tyranny over the jungle with their fire and guns.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shere Khan the tiger comes to the wolf cave seeking Mowgli because he says the child belongs to him and that he has the right to kill him. Mother Wolf, who with her husband has rescued the very young child, fiercely insists that the spirited human cub is her own and that she will not have him killed.

Mother Wolf takes Mowgli to the pack meeting at Council Rock to ask to keep the human child. Shere Khan says, “The cub is mine. Give him to me."

Shere Khan wants to kill Mowgli because he likes to be the undisputed tyrant of the jungle, and humans challenge that rule. Shere Khan is afraid of the humans' fire and their guns and hates feeling vulnerable to them. Killing one of their children is a way to get back at them for intimidating him.

But the wolves decide to keep the man cub, as they call Mowgli. Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther both also speak in favor of the wolves keeping him. They say there is no harm in a human child. But Shere Khan is angry over this decision.

Mowgli's wolf mother tells Mowgli that one day he will need to kill Shere Khan, who will never give up the grudge against him.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial