Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191
“Thrown Away” is essentially a story about anonymity. Told through an unnamed omniscient narrator, the story centers on a protagonist who remains anonymous and on a Major who is fond of The Boy but who has long since lost the sensitivity that might lead him to the same end as that of The Boy.
Kipling allows the Major emotions. When the narrator reads him the letters that The Boy has written to his loved ones, the Major “simply cried like a woman without caring to hide it.” Kipling leaves little doubt, however, that the Major will recover quickly from the shock of The Boy’s suicide. Before he returns to base, he is laughing and joking with the narrator. Then he has a long sleep that apparently erases what is left of this horror from his mind.
What Kipling shows here is that people are quite replaceable in India—perhaps everywhere. Kipling holds his characters in this story at arm’s length; readers see them but do not know them. This is not a failing on Kipling’s part but is rather a reflection of the harsh realities of colonial India.