Kipling’s Notions of Race in Plain Tales from the Hills Essay example

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Kipling’s Notions of Race in Plain Tales from the Hills

"No other Western writer has ever known India as Kipling knew it"
"nobody can teach you British India better than Rudyard Kipling"
"There will always be plenty in Kipling that I will find difficult to forgive; but there is also enough truth in these stories to make them impossible to ignore".

Salman Rushdie, "Kipling", from Imaginary Homelands, London: Granta Books, 1991, 74-80.

It may be discerned from the quotes displayed above that Rushdie, a writer not renowned for suffering fools gladly, accords Kipling some epistemological superiority. Yet when examining images of race and blood in Kipling, the critic turns most frequently to Kim, and I contend that the short
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Here the ideal is represented as Lispeth, and the missionaries and the Englishman, far from being the pillars of empire, are delineated as underhand, arrogant and duplicitous.

Going native is a deeply complex notion, carrying simultaneous multiple meanings. While at a superficial level it may be read as white settlers’ fear that one of their own may reject the mores of the colonizer and turn into the native other, it may also represent a fantasy role, in which the white man may be reified as the wily, romantic, unknowable, native other. T.E. Lawrence, (Lawrence of Arabia), is perhaps the best known of these figures.

Kipling’s version of this character is Strickland, who appears in "Miss Youghal’s Sais". He has the unlikely ability to pass unnoticed among "the native riff-raff", was "perpetually ‘going Fantee’ among natives" and had "mastered the thieves’-patter of the chángars" (28). Kipling ascribes fantastic and unbelievable talents to Strickland, enabling the author to examine western notions of culture, what constitutes an eastern other and how deeply or superficially human character is permeated by culture and nurture. McIntosh Jellaludin, in "To be Filed for Reference" has a wife who is "A native woman" who is not "civilised" (327). Witness the author’s attempt to