What is the setting of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" by Rudyard Kipling?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the largest sense, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is set in India, in Segowlee. The story, published in 1895, reflects a time in which the British Empire ruled India. The bungalow home of the big man, his wife, and his son Teddy—an English family that saves the mongoose—is more elaborate than anything the little creature has ever seen in his life. As Rikki-tikki-Tavi notes, there is more to find here than his family could "find out about" in their entire lives. As Rikki explores, he

nearly drowned himself in the bath-tubs, put his nose into the ink on a writing table, and burned it on the end of the big man's cigar, for he climbed up in the big man's lap to see how writing was done.

He also eagerly watches how kerosene lamps are lit at night and gets into bed with Teddy. As we can see, Rikki will now have all the benefits of modern European civilization, which are presented as being superior to what his native land can offer.

Perhaps the most important setting for the story, however, is the garden. It is large and half overgrown, with bushes "as big as summerhouses." It also boasts roses, lime and orange trees, bamboos, and places where the grass grows tall. Rikki-tikki is very excited about this habitat, which he thinks will be good for hunting. It is also a place where he make new friends and gets involved in a community of anthropomorphized animals.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Rikki-tikki-tavi takes place in the Segowlee cantonment, an area in India that was home to a British military base when India was still a colony of England.  At the beginning of the story, Rikki-Tikki is washed away from his family burrow by a passing flood.  He is found lying on a garden path by a young boy named Teddy, who at first glance believes he is dead.  When Teddy shows poor Rikki-Tikki to his mother and father, they decide to bring him home to their bungalow and help him recover.

Teddy and his family live in a big bungalow in Segowlee cantonment.  Rikki-Tikki and Teddy become fast friends, and Rikki-Tikki earns himself a permanent home when he saves Teddy from a vicious snake attack.  Rikki-Tikki later wanders into the family garden, and finds that there is a whole community of animals living there, including Darzee, the chattering tailorbird, Chuchundra, the cowardly muskrat, and Nag and Nagaina, the villainous snakes.  

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial