Discussion Topic

Qualities and characteristics that enable Rikki-tikki to fight and defeat the cobras in "Rikki-tikki-tavi."

Summary:

Rikki-tikki's bravery, quick reflexes, and intelligence enable him to fight and defeat the cobras. His relentless determination and strategic thinking allow him to outmaneuver his enemies, while his loyalty to the family he protects gives him the courage needed to face dangerous adversaries like Nag and Nagaina.

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What qualities enable Rikki-tikki to fight the cobras in "Rikki-tikki-tavi"?

Rikki-tikki-tavi is successful against the cobras because he is curious, brave, and persistent. 

Although all mongooses are supposed to protect people against snakes according to Rikki-tikki, he is particularly adept at the task.  Rikki-tikki has a mongoose’s curiosity, but he is also smart and very brave.  He does not give up until he accomplishes his goal. 

Rikki-tikki washes into the family’s garden and immediately settles into being a house mongoose.  This is every well-bred mongoose’s mission in life.  As house mongoose, it is Rikki-tikki’s job to protect the family and garden from snakes. 

It just so happens that a pair of cobras live in Rikki-tikki’s garden.  In order to have peace, he has to kill both of them. He begins by killing the little dusty snakeling, Karait.  Then it is time to deal with the cobras.  They try to trick Rikki-tikki or scare him, but he is too smart for either. 

Nag is the first to go.  Rikki-tikki fights him valiantly as he is threatening to bite the little boy, Teddy.  After Rikki-tikki kills him, the man shoots him, but Rikki-tikki sees that as pointless.  He was doing fine on his own, even though it was a bit of a struggle against the strong snake. 

The female cobra is now even more dangerous because she is in mourning. She also has a nest of hatchlings.  Rikki-tikki uses his ingenuity to trick her.  He kills all of her babies in their eggs and uses the last egg to lure her out.  

Rikki-tikki has to follow Nagaina into her hole in order to defeat her. 

[Very] few mongooses, however wise and old they may be, care to follow a cobra into its hole. It was dark in the hole; and Rikki-tikki never knew when it might open out and give Nagaina room to turn and strike at him. He held on savagely, and struck out his feet to act as brakes on the dark slope of the hot, moist earth. 

The other animals think Rikki-tikki is dead, but he emerges victorious.  With Nagaina gone, Rikki-tikki has successfully dispatched the last snake.  This does not mean he will rest on his laurels though.  Rikki-tikki is vigilant, and will make sure that there are no more snakes in the garden again.

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What characteristics help Rikki-Tikki defeat the snakes most?

The basic characteristics that Rikki-tikki has that allow him to defeat snakes are the basic characteristics of a mongoose. A mongoose is a natural predator to snakes of all kinds; therefore, Rikki-tikki has been blessed with innate abilities that work in his favor. One such characteristic is his quickness. Being as fast or faster than the strike of a cobra or an Eastern brown snake is fast.  

The victory is only a matter of quickness of eye and quickness of foot—snake's blow against mongoose's jump—and as no eye can follow the motion of a snake's head when it strikes, this makes things much more wonderful than any magic herb.

Readers get a clue early on as to how quickly Rikki-tikki can move. Nagaina tries to catch Rikki-tikki by surprise from behind, and he is able to quickly jump out of the way of the strike. A few paragraphs later, Rikki-tikki defeats Karait. Readers are specifically told Karait is exceptionally quick because of his size.

If Rikki-tikki had only known, he was doing a much more dangerous thing than fighting Nag, for Karait is so small, and can turn so quickly, that unless Rikki bit him close to the back of the head, he would get the return stroke in his eye or his lip.

Another characteristic of Rikki-tikki that allows him to defeat the snakes is that he is smart. He knows when to press his advantage and when to back off.  

Rikki-tikki did not care to follow them, for he did not feel sure that he could manage two snakes at once.

Finally, Rikki-tikki is brave. Taking on dangerous snakes is brave to begin with; however, the story ends with Rikki-tikki following Nagaina into her home territory. This act is something Rikki-tikki knows is especially dangerous, but he knows he must kill her for the safety of everybody.  

And very few mongooses, however wise and old they may be, care to follow a cobra into its hole. It was dark in the hole; and Rikki-tikki never knew when it might open out and give Nagaina room to turn and strike at him.

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