Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Lahore (le-HOHR). Now a city in northeastern Pakistan, Lahore was part of British India at the time in which this novel is set. Its museum or “Wonder House” (which represents the city’s richness and cultural diversity) has a curator modeled on Rudyard Kipling’s father, who was curator there from 1875 to 1894. It is appropriate that Kim opens in Lahore, because Kipling’s earliest memories came from there. His appreciation of the city’s ethnic and religious heterogeneity owes something to the Masonic Lodge, which he joined there as a young man; it was an organization teaching the brotherhood of all races and faiths. Kim’s presentation of India is best when it conforms to this Masonic spirit. However, from the novel’s first sentence, Kipling overlays this tolerance with the presupposition that the British have won the right to rule Lahore, and, indeed, all of India.


*Afghanistan. Independent country west of India that was thought to threaten British India, particularly if Afghanistan were to ally itself with Russia or France. Personifying the best of Afghanistan, Mahbub Ali, repeatedly called the “Afghan,” exudes courage and ferocious virility as well as guile, yet Kim wins his affection. To celebrate that boy’s becoming a man, Mahbub Ali dresses Kim in the robes of a prince of his Afghan tribe. This incident symbolizes Kipling’s hope that the British Empire will eventually expand into Afghanistan.


Such-Zen (sewtch-ZEHN). Fictional Tibetan Buddhist monastery, where an...

(The entire section is 662 words.)