Jungle Monkeys

Better Essays
The monkeys of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book are a very unique group of characters. They are viewed by the other animals of the jungle, or the Jungle People as they call themselves, as outcasts and outlaws. The most prominent chapter they occur in, “Kaa’s Hunting”, shows their lawless, shiftless, and uncivilized way of life. This image in itself does not give off any racist undertone. However, Disney’s adaption of The Jungle Book carries this view of the monkeys, while also giving them strong attributes that are commonly associated with African-Americans.

In Kipling’s original version of The Jungle Book, the jungle monkeys make their first prominent appearance in the chapter “Kaa’s Hunting”. The young boy Mowgli speaks of the jungle monkeys, called the Bandar-Log, to the bear Baloo, Mowgli’s friend and teacher, and Bagheera, Mowgli’s parent-figure, which instantly enrages the two. When Mowgli questions why he has never been taken to the Bandar-Log before, Baloo rants of the jungle monkey’s ways of life:

They are outcasts…Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance…We of the jungle have no dealings with them. We do not drink where the monkeys drink; we do not go where the monkeys go; we do not hunt where they hunt; we do not die where they die. (Kipling 30)

Bagheera continues to elaborate on the Jungle People’s discontent towards the Bandar-Log, “They are very many, evil, dirty, shameless, and they desire, if they have any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle People. But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and filth on our heads” (Kipling 30). These quotes set the negative tone towards the monkey people, which is then promptly demonstrated by the monkeys kidnapping Mow...

... middle of paper ... man handle him. Also the kidnapping of Mowgli was of harmless intention to discover the secret of man’s fire. On the other hand, Kaa and Shere Khan, the tiger antagonist, make clear threats against Mowgli. The only apparent reason of the discontent held towards the monkey people is there lack of self control and monkey ways of life.

Rudyard Kipling’s original story of The Jungle Book presented a very distinct group of characters in contrast to virtually all other jungle people in the book. The Bandar-Log were seen as lawless, careless, and mostly mindless individuals who were social outcasts and pariahs. Disney’s film adaptation of Kipling’s tale held this concept, while also giving the monkey people strong characteristic typically connected to African-Americans. This creates a racist undertone in the movie that is absent from the original story’s source.
Get Access