Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi has all the necessary parts of a battle story. It is full of battles, war tactics, good, evil, motive, song, and drama.
A battle story needs a gripping introduction, one that hints at the battles to come and one that brings the reader in with an exciting anticipation. This story first begins with a poem of the brave Rikki Tikki angrily chasing death with a lust to kill. It right away shows the necessary bravery and strength of the protagonist/hero and the might and evil of the antagonist. The lines like… Eye to eye and head to head This shall end when one is dead …start the book with the promise of great fights between two great forces.
The first paragraph is also cleverly written to further exaggerate the greatness of the hero and the battles that he has won.
This is the story of the great war that Rikki tikki tavi fought single handed, through the bathrooms of the big bungalow in Segowlee cantonment After the introduction the plot begins by bringing the hero Rikki to the setting by a coincidental occurrence. His home is flooded and he is washed away and near death when a family finds him and nurses him to health. Again here Kippling shows the bravery of the hero, “It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose.” Rikki Tikki is thankful to the family and like all good heroes he is loyal and decides to protect them.
Then enters evil, which creates the conflict for which all battling and killing takes place in battle stories. Rikki is exploring the yard one-day and discovers two birds mourning the loss of an egg that was eaten by the evil snakes ruling the jungle. Just then the head snake Nag appears. Rikki already dislikes him as he is good-natured and loyal like all good heroes and Nag ofcourse has eaten his friend’s egg. This is a very important scene, the introduction of the antagonists. Nag is introduced with a boisterous “I am Nag. The great God Brahm put his mark upon all our people, when the first cobra spread his hood to keep the sun off Brahm as he slept. Look, and be afraid!” And Rikki was afraid, “for the minute; but it is impossible for a mongoose to stay frightened for any length of time.” Then out of no where the first real action of the story takes place, “’Behind you! Look behind you!’ sang Darzee” as Nagaina, Nag’s equally evil wife attempts ...
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...nd goes down with her. This is the climax of the story; it is very suspenseful. Using phrases like “and very few mongooses, however wise and old they may be care to follow a cobra into its hole;” Kippling lines the hole with exaggerations and depictions to increase this already thick suspense. All the animals assume he is dead, similar to countless action movies where there is an explosion and the hero is thought dead, but like in those movies the hero comes out to the amazement and joy of all and there again is much celebrating. And so the book ends on the happy note of Darzee’s glorious battle song of Rikki’s tale.
The story followed exactly the guidelines of a battle story; its plot, descriptions, characters, motives, and action are all proof of this. While reading I noticed that the story, if edited slightly could be confused as a story of humans fighting in the jungle.
The names mongoose, snake, and bird sound like the code names we give our pilots and fighters. Also Rikki has special training and tactics in killing snakes as if he were a trained soldier.
In conclusion, Kippling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi can possibly best be described as a classic war tale of good vs. evil.
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