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How did Mowgli adapt to village life in The Jungle Book?

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling tells the coming-of-age story of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in a forest in India. In the chapter “Tiger, Tiger!” Mowgli encounters the world of men, balancing what he learns from them with what he previously learned from his animal family and friends.

After Mowgli is cast out of the jungle for using fire in a fight against the tiger Shere Khan, he moves to a village. There, he bides his time, preparing for the eventual confrontation with the revenge-seeking tiger. At the entrance of the village, the wolf Gray Brother asks Mowgli, “Thou wilt not forget that thou art a wolf? Men will not make thee forget?” Mowgli affirms that he won’t forget, while acknowledging that he was cast out.

In the village, a woman named Messua brings Mowgli to her home, thinking of him as a replacement for her son who was taken by a tiger. Mowgli learns human language by repeating what Messua says, and he learns that people sleep indoors, a situation he can’t quite adapt to. When the village children make fun of him, Mowgli learns to hold back his anger by applying the Law of the Jungle. He does not punish them, despite his greater strength, because he knows it would be “unsportsmanlike.” Other customs of society Mowgli must learn include wearing clothing, using money, and practicing agriculture.

Mowgli also learns about the caste system when he helps a humble potter, not understanding why the priest chastises him for this act. When Buldeo the hunter talks about a lame tiger, Mowgli knows the tiger is Shere Khan and challenges and corrects Buldeo, rousing the hunter’s anger. These actions lead to Mowgli being appointed as a cattle herder, thus changing from a free life in the jungle to a more settled life as a villager with an occupation. In the meantime, he discusses with Gray Brother and Akela how to deal with Shere Khan. Even though Mowgli succeeds in killing the tiger, he is driven out by the villagers, led by Buldeo, for being more wolf than man.

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