The characters of Nag and Nagaina are portrayed as villains in ‘‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.’’ The use of snakes as a symbol of evil is common in Western civilization. Can you think of other stories, myths, or folk tales that use this motif? Research the folktales and mythologies of another, non-Western culture, such as the Chinese culture or the Hindu culture. Are snakes used as symbols in these cultures and, if so, what do they represent?
The Hindu god Brahm, or Brahma, is mentioned in the story ‘‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,’’ but nothing about the god’s significance in Hinduism is revealed. Research the following about the Hindu religion. Who is Brahm? What is his significance in Hinduism? What role does he play?
The British maintained a strong presence in India until 1947, when India finally was granted independence and became the independent nations of India and Pakistan. What events led up to India’s independence? Why did Britain feel compelled to let go of such a large and vital part of its empire?
Kipling was largely derided in the early 2000s for promoting British imperialism, which embodied a sense of the superiority of British civilization and culture. Do you think that ‘‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’’ reflects this attitude? Do you think that it is fair or accurate for Kipling to be judged by twenty-first century political and cultural standards? Look at another of his works, the controversial poem ‘‘White Man’s Burden.’’ Assess whether this poem promotes imperialist ideologies.
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