The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book are collections of short stories. Each story begins with a few lines of poetry. Most of the best-known of these jungle stories involve the adventures of Mowgli the jungle boy, Kaa the python, Shere Khan the tiger, Baloo the bear, Hathi the elephant, and Bagheera the panther. The first three stories—“Mowgli’s Brothers,” “Kaa’s Hunting,” and “Tiger! Tiger!”—describe the exploits of Mowgli and his friends in a world seemingly as benign as it is in fact dangerous.

In “Mowgli’s Brothers,” the young jungle boy is hunted by the fearsome but lame tiger Shere Khan. The story recounts how Mowgli came to live with animals, how he was reared by wolves, and how he learned the laws of the jungle. In “Kaa’s Hunting,” Mowgli is kidnapped by monkeys and taken to Cold Lairs, a treasure-filled Indian temple lying in ruins. Kaa, Baloo, and Bagheera rescue Mowgli from playful monkeys who are more intent on folly than on work. Mowgli and friends flee the scene as the hungry Kaa descends upon the monkeys. In the last story of the Mowgli trilogy, “Tiger! Tiger!,” Mowgli and his wolf friends guard a herd of buffalo and stampede them into Shere Khan, killing the tiger. Messua, Mowgli’s mother, is introduced in this story.

The other stories tell of animal heroics. “The White Seal” deals with Kotick, a white seal who saves the year-old seals known as holluschickie from slaughter by humans. Kotick searches for and finds a new nesting ground where the seals will be safe from hunters. “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is the...

(The entire section is 657 words.)