Why was Rikki-tikki-tavi's fight with Karait important?

Expert Answers

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

Rikki-tikki is a mongoose, an animal similar to a weasel with a reputation for being a particularly effective enemy of snakes. Rikki-tikki is washed out of his home by a flood, and arrives half-drowned in the garden of a British family, who essentially adopt him (although Rikki-tikki, arguably, adopts them as well), particularly their young son, Teddy. Teddy's mother is nervous about allowing Rikki-tikki, a wild animal, into such close confidence with their child, but Teddy's father insists that having a mongoose around the house is better than having a dog.

Rikki's primary enemies are Nag and Nagaina, a pair of cobras. Karait is a smaller, but equally deadly snake, and Rikki's fight with Karait allows Rikki to be established as a successful snake-hunter, and therefore a hero, without encountering the main antagonists. From a literary perspective this amplifies the tensions and sets up their rivalry for a greater final conflict. From the perspective of the plot, Rikki's fight with Karait allows him to demonstrate his protective nature, and assure Teddy's mother that he is a benefit rather than a threat.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial