Topics for Further Study
Modern readers of Kim will find many of the descriptions of the Indian people throughout the novel grossly stereotypical. In Kipling’s day, it was deemed factual and common knowledge by Westerners that Asiatic peoples were, on the whole, lazy, superstitious, and conniving, and these myths are repeated and perpetuated throughout Kim. Although our modern society is much more sensitive to the inaccuracies and harmfulness of cultural and racial stereotypes, there still persist stereotypical representations of Asians in popular culture. What other examples of racial or cultural stereotyping can you identify in our culture?
Many scholars argue that Kim is a novel motivated by masculinity: All of the main characters are male, and females show up largely as plot devices. How do the male characters in Kim regard women? How are women portrayed? What do you think Kipling’s portrayal of women in Kim reflects about his attitudes towards women?
India is the location of the origin of many of the Eastern world’s major religions. India is also home to numerous religious sects, many of which are mentioned in Kim. Choose a sect with which you are unfamiliar, and research the history and primary beliefs of this sect.
Much of Kim is set along the Grand Trunk Road, which was a main highway that crossed the Indian subcontinent. This highway has played a major role in the history of India. Research the history of the Grand Trunk Road. Where did it come from? What importance has it played over the centuries?