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                                                   Rudyard Kipling's Kim

 All page references indebted to the following source:

Kipling, Rudyard, and Alan Sandison. Kim. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Wiki Creators

Page Created by: Jessica Laster, Melanie Kucera, Kate Stanislawski, Carly Katz, Ryan Lincoln


"True, he knew the wonderful walled city of Lahore from the Delhi Gat to the outer Fort Ditch; was hand in glove with men who led lives stranger than anything Haroun al Raschid dreamed of; and he lived in a life wild as that of the Arabian Nights, but missionaries and secretaries of charitable societies could not see the beauty of it." (3)

Ruyard Kipling's adventure novel Kim was published in 1901. This novel centers around a young boy named Kimball (Kim) O'Hara. He is an orphaned boy of Irish descent living on the streets of Lahore, India. He makes a living by begging and running small errands, especially for his friend, the horse trader Mahbub Ali, who is also a spy for British Imperialists. Kim meets the Teshoo Lama from Tibet and seeing that he is both old and naive, he joins him as his Chela (disciple). The Lama's journey is to escape the "Wheel of Things," or the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth, which to him causes all human suffering.  Kim joins the Lama in his journey, hoping that he too would be able to fulfill his own destiny of finding the "Red Bull on a green field" which he has been told will be his saving grace.  This unlikely friendship begins to travel along the Grand Trunk Road in search of both of their fates.  Soon, the Lama and Kim discover an Irish regiment of soldiers and on the flag they have a red bull sitting on top of a green field.  Kim finds out that this was his father's own regiment, and he is then instructed to leave the Lama and enter into school.  While Kim is reluctant to go to school, the Lama encourages this education.  During his time away at school, Kim meets Colonel Creighton who begins the boy's journey in "The Great Game."  During Kim's summer breaks, he still continues to search for the "River of the Arrow" with the Lama, which for the holy man will wash away all sin and desire.  When back studying, both Mahbub Ali and Colonel Creighton begin to make plans to train this boy in espionage.  He is sent to Lurgan Sahib for more training.  After three years of schooling, Kim continues on the journey with the Lama, while still spying on the Russians for Hurree Babu.  While on a journey in the Himalayas, Kim discovers documents regarding Russian plans to thwart British control of the northwest region of India, and delivers these to Babu.  The Lama and Kim are nursed back to health by the Sahiba, the widow from Kulu.  The Lama finds his river, but continues to be part of this world in order to keep Kim from going astray.  The reader is then left to decide whether Kim will continue with a spiritual life as chela to the Lama or to continue his spying in "The Great Game."

"He crossed his hands on his lap and smiled, as a man may who has won Salvation for himself and his beloved." (289)


"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten." - Rudyard Kipling

Photograph Courtesy of:

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay (which is now Mumbai), India.  His father, John Lockwood Kiping, was the Head of the Department of Architectural Sculpture at the Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay and therefore provided his son with an outlet to experience the wonders of the art world.  Some of his fondest memories are of his childhood days spent with his nanny and his sister Alice in India; he was fascinated by the people, the culture, and the landscape as a whole, which can be seen in many of his novels. 

In 1871, at the age of 5, Kipling was sent to the Lorne Lodge boarding school in Southsea, England.  In the 'House of Desolation' as he liked to call it, he experienced much brutality and ridicule by his fellow students as well as his teachers and the owners of the house.  He found solace in poetry and literature, as well as his visits to his Aunt Georgie's house where he felt welcomed and appreciated.  His mother finally pulled him out of the school in 1877, and one year later he attended the United Services College in Westward, Ho., Devon where he learned how to ward off bullies and fell graciously into the role of a student. 

It was his trip back to India in 1881 when he began writing his short stories and traveling around the world as a newspaper reporter.  Living in India provided him with the opportunity to fall back in love with the culture he regarded so highly as a child and to learn more about what it meant to live in an Anglo-Indian society.  Rudyard first became known for many of his poems that centered around the idea of British imperialism.  The years that followed however, provided him with much success as he wrote some of his most highly aprreciated and well known novels including The Jungle Book (1894) and Kim (1901).  He became known as a genius of prose and verse, much of his work revolving around that of empires and the role imperialism plays in people's lives.  In 1907, he became the first english language writer to recieve a Nobel Prize in Literature.  Up until his death on January 18, 1936, Rudyard continued to write as well as travel with his wife and three children. 

Here's a clip of Rudyard Kipling citing his poem "If":

Biography indebted to the following sources:

Merriman, C.D.  "Rudyard Kipling-Biography and Works." The Literature Network: Online Classic Literature, Poems and Quotes.  Essays and Summaries.  2006.  Web. <>

Character List
  • Kimball "Kim" O-Hara-  Protagonist in the story.  Kim is a poor orphan considered "a poor white of the very poorest." (1)  He is the son of an Irish soldier and a social 13-year-old who finds himself to be a part of many different groups.  Kim's best skills are lying, his humor, and his ability to speak in different dialects.
    "His nickname through the wards was 'Little Friend of all the World'; and very often, being lithe and inconspicuous, he executed commmissions by night on the crowded housetops for sleek and shiny young men of fashion." (3)
  • the Teshoo Lama-  A Tibetan Lama on a spiritual journey to escape the "wheel of life" and to reach enlightenment.  The lama is on his way to find the Four Holy Places before he dies, specifically visiting  'The River of the Arrow.'  He believes in many lives, karma, oneness with the universe and wishes to be in the world with no attachments or bonds.  He is also described as a wise scholar."'We be followers of the Middle Way, living in peace in our lamasseries, and I go to see the Four Holy Places before I die.  Now do you, who are children, know as much as I do who am old.' He smiled benignantly on the boys." (5) Kim says, "I am now that holy man's disciple; and we go a pilgrimage together -- to Benares, he says." (19)
  • Mahbub Ali- A spy for the British Government who uses his job as a horse seller In India as an alias.  He is an Afghan whom Kim says he has had many dealings with thus far in his short life."Kim would deliver himself of his tale at evening, and Mahbub would listen without a word or gesture. It was intrigue of some kind, Kim knew; but its worth lay in saying nothing whatever to any one except Mahbub, who gave him beautiful meals all hot from the cookshop at the head of the serai, and once as much as eight annas in money." (18)
  • Colonel Creighton- A British army officer described as a "fool" by Kim.  He is considered to be the adult parallel to Kim.  He is an example of an early cultural anthropologist.
    "He is always buying horses which he cannot ride, and asking riddles about the works of God -- such as plants and stones and the customs of people.  The dealers call him the father of fools, because he is so easily cheated about a horse.  Mahbub Ali says he is madder than all other Sahibs." (116)
  • Hurree Chunder Mookerjee (Hurree Babu)- He is a teacher with an intense love for learning. Kim's opposite. From Bengal, He was trained by the British and deeply values Euro-knowledge and ideas.
    "Hurree Babu came out from behind the dovecot, washing his teeth with ostentatious ritual.  Full-fleshed, heavy-haunched, bull-necked, and deep-voiced, he did not look like 'fearful man." (225)
  • Lurgan Sahib- A Simla shop owner.  He has requested Kim to stay with him.
    "...he is one to be obeyed to the last wink of his eyelashes.  Men say he does magic, but that should not touch thee.  Go up the hill and ask.  Here beings the Great Game." (147)
  • Lutuf Ullah-  Mahbub's partner (18)
  • Chota Lal and Abdullah- The sweetmeat-seller's son, play king-of-the-castle game with Kim (3)
  • Father Bennett- Church of England chaplain of the regiment. He finds Kim outside and thinks that he is a Hindu-beggar thief. He represents the "bad" kind of Imperialism and religious figure.
    "Bennett looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title of 'heathen'." (88)
  • Father Victor- Roman Catholic chaplain. He is more understanding than Father Bennett. 
    "'Power of Darkness below!" said Father Victor, who, wise in the confessional, heard the pain in every sentence." (92)
  • Sahiba- Widow from Kulu.  She houses the Lama and Kim on their journey and also nurses them back to health at the end of the novel.  She is the closest thing to a mother figure that Kim has known. (65)
Media and Culture

Film & Television:

  • Kim (1950) – is an adventure film starring Errol Flynn as Mahbub Ali and Dean Stockwell as Kim, produced by MGM. This 1950s adaptation was partly filmed on location in India. It is similar to the book, although the ending is changed to the Lama finding the "River of the Arrow" and there he dies contentedly.

Here's a short clip from the 1950 film:

  • Kim (1955) – a Brazilian television series adapted from the novel.
  • Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1960) – Shirley Temple presented an hour long version of Kim.
  • Kim (1984) – a London Films television version starring Peter O’Toole as the Lama and directed by John Howard Davies.


  • Kim's Game – an activity based on Kipling’s 1901 novel, is used in children’s groups such as the Boy Scouts of America. In the novel, while Kim is training to be a spy with Mr. Lurgan he is shown a grouping of jewels and asked to memorize them to recall later. This game is used to train memory and observational skills in young children in the first years of schooling.
  • In the military, KIM'S Game is an exercise used in training snipers, although there is little documentation of this.

The Kipling Society:

  • This organization is a non-profit British literary society dedicated to the life and work of Rudyard Kipling. The Society is a Registered Charity with members world-wide. It was founded in 1927 by J. H. C. Brooking and other Kipling enthusiasts, including the author's school friends Major General L. C. Dunsterville and G. C. Beresford. The web-site, developed in 1999, serves as a way for anyone interested in Rudyard Kipling or literary criticisms of his work can come together for scholarly information.
  • Controlled by a Council and run by a Secretary and honorary officials, the Kipling Society organizations different "activities" related to Rudyard Kipling. They arrange regular lectures in London, including an Annual Luncheon with a guest speaker. They quarterly publish the Kipling Journal, the Society's house magazine, which since 1927 has been publishing relevant criticisms regarding the author and his work as well as rare prose and poetry by the man himself. The Society is also working on a project to scan the back issues of the journal to be available through their website. This organization also maintains the Kipling Library at City University in London. Here, one can find the entire catalog of the Kipling Journal. Also, while not sponsored by the Kipling Society, there is a link to The Landmark Trust USA, which provides the option to rent Rudyard Kipling's Vermont house Naulakha for vacation. According to the Naulakha Guest Book, "It is fascinating to visit the houses of writers and artists, but all you usually get is an hours tour with an absolute prohibition 'not to touch.' How wonderful then to sit at his desk and soak in Mr. Kipling's bath." Anonymous

Indebted to the following sources:
The Internet Movie Database Web: <>
The Kipling Society Web: <>
"Kim" Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia Web:

Resources and Links

Annan, Noel. "Kipling's Place in the History of Ideas." Victorian Studies 3.4 (1960): 232-348.JSTOR. Web

Brogan, Hugh. "Rudyard Kipling on America." Journal of American Studies 7.1 (1973): 31-46. JSTOR. Web

Dillingham, William. "Review: The Kipling Question." The Sewanee Review 109.3 (2001): 447-53. JSTOR. Web

Hopkirk, Peter, and Janina Slater. "Quest for Kim: in search of Kipling's great game." London: J.Murray, 1996.

Kipling, Rudyard. "Some Aspects of Travel." The Geographical Journey 43.4 (1914): 356-75. JSTOR. Web

Leon, Gordon. "Rudyard Kipling's Kim." Digital Video. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Burbank CA; Warner Home Video, 2003. Web. 9 May 2010.

Sarath-Roy, A.R. "Rudyard Kipling Seen through Hindu Eyes." The North American Review _199.699 (1914): 271-81. _JSTOR. Web.

Additional Materials

Selected other works by Rudyard Kipling

Wee Willie Winkie 1888

Plain Tales From The Hills 1887

The Jungle Book 1894

Captains Courageous 1897

Stalky & Co. 1899

Just So Stories 1902

Puck of Pook's Hill 1906

Debits and Credits 1899

Themes, Metaphors, Genres and Literary Tools


Equality and Unity- The idea of equality and unity of men transcends the idea of class distinctions of the predominantly Hindu society that Kim has become familiar with. 

-"We sit, for example, side by side with all castes and peoples." (28) 

-"He (Kim) cocked his nose in the air loftily and stepped across the narrow field-borders with great dignity. 'There is no pride,' said the lama, after a pause, 'there is no pride among such as follow the Middle Way.'" (43

-"I am an old man--pleased with shows as are children.  To those who follow the Way there is neither black nor white, Hind or Bhotiyal.  We all be souls seeking escape." (212)

Identity-  The question of identity and belonging plagues Kim throughout the novel, leaving him with a lingering sense of loneliness.  

-"But I am to pray to Bibi Miriam, and I am a Sahib'---he he looked at his boots ruefully. 'No; I am Kim.  This is the great world, and I am only Kim.  Who is Kim?' He considered his own identity, a thing he had never done before, till his head swam.  He was one insignificant person in all this roaring whirl of India, going southward to he knew not what fate." (118) 

Balance- Life is a constant balance between extremes. Life is contrasted by death, youth to age, physical to spiritual, individualistic to communal, curiosity to wisdom, love of the empire to immersion in a foreign land.

-"There is neither high nor low in the Middle Way" (20)

Imperialism-  A philosophy that assumes the superiority of a praticular civilization, in this case the superior civilization is the British civilization.  Because of this feeling of superiority, Great Britian felt as if they had a moral responsibility to bring their "enlightened" ways to the uncivilized people of India.

-"The English do eternally tell the truth, therefore we of this country are eternally made foolish.  By Allah, I will tell the truth to an Englishman!  Of what use is the Government police if a poor Kabuli be robbed of his horses in their very trucks." (140)

Biology and Race- Biologically Kim is Irish but he identifies racially with the Indian people.  As the book progresses, Kim begins to embrace 'whiteness.' He grows into a man that can pass as either European or Indian. He seems to be everything and nothing at once.  The fact that he can fit into both worlds but still not feel at home contributes to his identity confusion. 

- "The sweeper shuffled in haste. 'There is a white boy by the barracks waiting under a tree who is not a white boy,' he stammered..." (100)

- "No man could be a fool who knew the language so intimately, who moved so gently and silently, and whose eyes were so different from the dull fat eyes of other Sahibs." (118)- About Colonel Creighton 

- "Once a Sahib, always a Sahib." (107) 

Hybridization- Kim is unusual in that he can pass as either an Indian native or a Brit.  He has the ability to slip in and out of identities.

-"Though he was burned black as any  native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother-tongue a clipped uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white- a poor white of the very poorest." (1) 

-"The shop was full of all manner of dresses and turbans, and Kim was apparelled variously as a young Mohammedan of good family, an oilman, and once-which was a joyous evening-as the son of an Oudh landholder in the fullest of full dress...but a demon in Kim woke up and sang with joy as he put on the changing dresses, and changed speech and gesture therewith" (159). 

Relationships Between Men- Throughout the novel, Kim comes into contact with a variety of older men whom he befriends and who he shares a special bond with.  These relationships are important to him because they provide him with the love and care that was absent in his life as a child. 

-Mahbub Ali says to Kim, "But thou art also my Little Friend of all the World, and I love thee.  So says my heart." (143)

-Mahbub Ali asks Kim, "Now hear me.  Is it necessary to the comfort of thy heart to see that lama?"  "It is one part of my bond," said Kim.  "If I do not see him, and if he is taken from me, I will go out of that madrissah in Nucklao and, and-once gone, who is to find me again?" (144) 

Religious Growth-  Kipling is respectful of Buddhism, and much of Kim's wisdom comes from his relationship with the Lama.  Kipling also suggest that some of the finest Christian ethics of love and nonviolence are also characteristics of Buddhism.  Kipling pokes fun at the differences between Anglicanism and Catholicism, but he does seem to depict both priest favorably.

-"I know nothing, -nothing do I know, - but I go to free myself from the Wheel of Things by a broad and open road.  He smiled with most simple triumph. 'As a pilgrim to the Holy Places I acquire Merit." (9) 

-The Lama says, "As a drop draws to water, so my Soul drew near to the Great Soul which is beyond all things.  At that point, exalted in contemplation, I saw all Hind, from Ceylon in the sea to the Hills, and my own Painted Rocks at Such-Zen...By this I knew the Soul had passed beyond the illusion of Time and Space and of Things.  By this I knew I was free." (288) 

Women and Treachery- Kim is predominantly a male story, featuring an all male cast of characters and focusing on traditional male relationships.  The women characters factor mostly as plot devices.  For example, the old women of Kulu provides a place for Kim and the Lama to rest.  Even though women play a minor role, they are ofter regarded as obstacles to the goals of men.  As an example of this, the Lama complains that the old women of Kulu had derailed him from his search. 

- "Better that we go now.  Those who search bags with knives may presently search bellies with knives.  Surely there is a woman behind this." (25) 

- The Lama says, "Thus it comes- take note, my Chela- that even those who would follow the way are thrust aside by idle women." (215)

- "How can a man follow the Way or the Great Game when he is so-always pestered by women?" (257) Kim talking about the Woman of Shamlegh.


Quest- The Quest is a metaphor for the journey towards enlightenment that Kim and the lama will embark on together. 

-"We take the Road then?" asks Kim.  "The Road and our Search.  I was but waiting for thee.  It was made plain to me in a hundred dreams-notably one that came upon the night of the day that the Gates of Learning first shut-that without thee I should never find my River" (192).

River- The River of the Arrow is a spiritual journey the Lama is embarking on and it remains much of a mystery until the very end.  According to legend, this River sprang up from the spot where an arrow shot by the Buddha landed.  Legend also tells that anyone who bathes in the river will be cleansed of all sin and desire.  Only when the Lama has reached spiritual perfection can he find it.

-" 'Now, how wilt though know thy River?' said Kim squatting in the shade of some tall sugar cane.  'When I find it, an enlightenment will surely be given.' " (43)

- The Lama says, "No matter what thy wisdom learned among Sahibs, when we come to my River thou wilt be freed from all illusion- at my side. Hai! my bones ache for that River, as they ached in the te-rain; but my spirit sits above my bones, waiting.  The Search is sure!" (212)

Grand Trunk Road- This is the road where all of India meets, it is the metaphor for diversity.  The road can also be thought of as the physical representation of the Lama's journey for his River.

- "The Grand Trunk at this point was built on an embankment to guard against winter floods from the foothills, so that one walked, as it were, a little above the country, along a stately corridor, seeing all India spread out to left and right...It was equally beautiful to watch the people, little clumps of red and blue and pink and white and saffron, turning aside to go to their own villages, dispersing and growing small by twos and threes across the level plain." (63) 

- "All castes and kinds of men move here. Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims and potters- all the world going and coming.  It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood...such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world." (57)

Pony- This is the code word for Kim.   

- " 'As regards that young horse,' said Mahbub, 'I say that when a colt is born to be a polo-pony, closely following the ball without teaching-- when a colt knows the game by divination-- then I say that it is a great wrong to break that colt to a heavy cart, Sahib!' " (113) 

- "Think, Sahib! He has been three months at the school.  And he is not mouthed to that bit.  For my part, I rejoice: the pony learns the game.' " (129) 


Travelogue-  Kim's plot is based on a pilgrimage.  Kipling uses Kim's vast travels to to provide his readers with the varied landscape of India, and of its native inhabitants.  Almost the entire subcontinet of India is covered.  

Spy Novel- Spying is portrayed as a game in this novel with deadly consequences.  While much power can be held in terms of the amount of knowledge a certain spy has, it comes at a high price. 

PicaresqueKim is considered to be a picaresque novel in which the young protagonist travels and lives life on the road showing the audience what life is like for the common people of India. (Bedford 3rd edition, p. 382)

Literary Tools

Epigraph- An epigraph is a piece of writing that is used at the beginning of a work to set the tone for that work or to highlight thematic elements. Every chapter in Kim starts with an epigraph, many of which are from Kipling's own work. (Bedford 3rd edition, p.146)

  • An epigraph from the first chapter of Kim:
    Oh ye who tread the Narrow Way
    By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day
    Be Gentle when the heathen pray
         To Buddha at Kamakura!

Epiphany-  An epiphany is a sudden revelation experienced by a character, often representing a resolution of an internal conflict.  Both Kim and the Lama experience an epiphany that resolves a conflct developed within the plot. (Bedford 3rd edition, p. 147)

Bildungsroman- Kim  is a coming of age novel that begins with Kim's childhood and then follows him as his life progresses into adulthood with the goal being maturity. (Bedford 3rd edition, p.39)

Indebted to the following sources: Murfin, Ross, and Supryia M. Ray The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: St. Martin's, 2009.

Discussion Questions

Kim is a story about a boy who lives by his wits.  He lives with a guardian who is both poor and addicted to opium.  How does he survive?

How does balance between equality and unity transcend class?

What ties the friendship between Teshoo lama and Kim together, it seems like an unlikely companionship?

What role does colonialism play in Kim's journey to find himself?

How do the roles of Kim and the Lama as the activist and the contemplative, respectively, work into the greater themes of balance throughout the novel?

Kipling seems to have divided the novel into thirds: Kim in India, Kim being pulled away from India and into the British world within India, and then a synthesis of the two worlds- without having to live in one world or the other.  What are some possible reasons for this?

What tools does Kim have that give him power in this world?

How serious are the stakes of the Great Game and how are they being raised as the novel moves forward?  Where does childhood fit in to the Great Game?

Many of the characters in the novel are able to mascarade as something they're not which is linked to the performance of their roles.  How real is identity in the novel then?  Is it possible to find your identity when people pride themselves in their ability to lie and be deceitful? 

Significant Quotations Explained

"The Colonel himself, riding on a horse, at the head of the finest regiment in the world would attend to Kim, -- little Kim that should have been better of than his father. Nine hundred first-class devils, whose god was a Red Bull on a green field, would attend to Kim..." (2)
-A prophecy made concerning Kim. When Kim is on the journey with the Lama, he is also on a journey of his own.

"True, he knew the wonderful walled city of Lahore from the Delhi Gat to the outer Fort Ditch; was hand in glove with men who led lives stranger than anything Haroun al Raschid dreamed of; and he lived in a life wild as that of the Arabian Nights, but missionaries and secretaries of charitable societies could not see the beauty of it." (3)
- Kim understands the beauty of the streets of India and enjoys his life on the streets. This is an idea that would not have been understood by many of the people that traveled from Europe to India.  Kim spends time avoiding being taken away to an orphanage.

"His (Kim) nickname through the wards was 'Little Friend of all the World'..." (3)
-Brings up the idea that Kim can pass as either a young Irish boy in a foreign land or as a young Indian boy.  He is considered to be a ‘friend of all the world’ because he fills the social and racial gaps.

"Sometimes he (Mahbub Ali) would tell Kim to watch a man who had nothing whatever to do with horses: to follow him for one whole day and report every soul with whom he talked.  Kim would deliver himself of his tale at evening, and Mahbub would listen without a word or gesture." (18) 
-This quotes comes from before Kim was knowingly involved in the ‘Great Game.’  Kim is catching on to Mahbub Ali and has already realized that when he talks about horses, he is talking in code.

"No river, but a Bull. Yea, a Red Bull on a green field will some day raise him to honour.  He is, I think, not altogether of this world.  He was sent of a sudden to aid me in this search, and his name is Friend of all the World." (46)
- Here the Lama is talking about of Kim’s search for the Red Bull.  Also, the feeling that the Lama has that Kim has been sent to him.

"Kim warmed to the game, for it reminded him of experiences in the letter-carrying line, when, for the sake of a few pice, he pretended to know more than he knew.  But now he was playing for larger things- the sheer excitement and the sense of power." (47)
- Kim is beginning to realize that the “Great Game” is not just a child’s game and that bigger things are at stake.  This is also telling about Kim as a person, he is an excitement seeker.  

"Had Kim been at all an ordinary boy, he would have carried on the play; but one does not know Lahore city, and least of all the faquirs by the Taksali Gate, for thirteen years without also knowing human nature." (49)
-Kim has a large understanding of all types of people because he has the ability to pass and he is street smart.  He is better able to manipulate people because he has a strong understanding of human nature.

" 'But he is a holy man,' said Kim earnestly.  'In truth, and in talk and in act, holy.  He is not like the others.  I have never seen such an one." (51)
-Kim firmly believes in the Teshoo Lama and begins to trust him. The relationship between the Lama and Kim becomes stronger and stronger as the novel continues.

"And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle.  It runs straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen hundred miles- such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world... All men come by this way..." (57)
-The Grand Trunk Road is the one place in India where all castes are welcome.  It is not run on a hierarchical system.

"The lama, as usual, was deep in meditation, but Kim's bright eyes were open wide." (61)
-This shows the difference between the Teshoo Lama and Kim.  The Lama is focused on meditation and he is on a spiritual journey.  Kim is still very focused and interested in the physical world.

"So my heart went out to thee for thy charity and thy courtesy and the wisdom of thy little years. But those who follow the Way must permit not the fire of any desire or attachment, for that is all Illusion...I stepped aside from the Way, my chela. It was no fault of thine. I delighted in the sight of life, the new people upon the roads, and in thy joy at seeing these things. I was pleased with thee who should have considered my Search and my Search alone. Now I am sorrowful because thou art taken away and my River is far from me. It is the Law which I have broken!'" (92)
-This passage is from when Kim is taken from the Lama in order to go to school. Here the Lama realized how much he has gone astray from his goal. He has felt attachment to Kim and is now feeling sadness because of his loss. This emotion goes completely against the Lama's belief, which is to escape from the Wheel of Things and all attachment which is illusion.

"It is there as it was there,' said Lurgan watching Kim closely while the boy rubbed his neck.  'But you are the first of many who has ever seen it so.'  He wiped his broad forehead.  'Was that more magic?' Kim asked suspiciously.  The tingle had gone from his veins; he felt unusually awake.  'No, that was not magic.  It was only to see if there was  a flaw in a jewel.  Sometimes very fine jewels will fly all to pieces if a man holds them in his hand, and knows the proper way."   (154)
-This passage immediately follows Lurgan Sahib's attempt to hypnotize Kim.  Kim initially fell into this trap, but he used concrete elements, such as math, to snap him self out of the haze that Lurgan Sahib had sent him into.  This is part of Kim's initial training for the great game, Lurgan was testing Kim's ability to think clearly in less than perfect situations.  

" 'There is no holding the young pony frm the game,' Said the horse-dealer....only once in a thousand years is a horse born so well fitted for the game as this our colt.  And we need men.' " (167)
- This is a conversation between Mahbub Ali and Colonel Creighton that explains Kim's ability to fill the gap between ethnic and cultural boundaries.  This also proves the importance of Kim's role in the "Great Game." 

"To those who follow the way there is neither black nor white, Hind nor Bhotiyal.  We be all souls seeking to escape."  (212)
-The idea of equality and unity in men trancends class.

"Kim, who had loved him without reason, now loved him for fifty good reasons.  So they enjoyed themselves in high felicity, abstaining, as the rule demands, from evil words, covetous desires; not over eating, not lying on high beds, nor wearing rich clothes....They were lords of the villages of Aminabad, Sahigunge, Akrola of the Ford, and little Phulesa, where Kim gave the soulless woman a blessing."  (213)
-This is the strongest indication throughout the novel that the bond between Kim and the Lama is growing stronger.  Kim appreciates and respects the Lama's intelligence and simplistic way of life.  He is beginning to see the Lama as a friend and not just someone who can help him fulfill his quest.

'I am Kim.  I am Kim.  And what is Kim?'  His soul repeated it again and again.  He did not want to cry,- had never felt less like crying in his life,- but of a sudden easy, stupid tears trickled down his nose, and with an almost audible click he felt the wheels of his being lock up anew on the world without."  (282)
-This moment represents Kim's breakdown and turning point.  It shows us the weakness of his fragile mind, while at the same time, showing us the strength of his inner character to fight for his own identity. 

"For the merit that I have acquired, the River of the Arrow is here.  It broke forth at our feet, as I have said.  I have found it.  Son of my soul, I have wrenched my Soul back from the Threshold of Freedom to free thee from all sin - as I am free, and sinless.  Just is the wheel!  Certain is our deliverance, come!"  (289)
-This passage shows the Teshoo Lama's love for Kim.  Instead of living an enlightened life he has decided to come back to Kim until he is sure that all of Kim's affairs are in order.

Historical Context

British Imperialism of India

Before British Imperialism of India began, India was not united as a country.  Instead, it was in a feudal system, divided into Princely States that were run by Rajs (rulers).  The Rajs would then tax the people living in their Princely State.  The British presence in India began as a trading presence with the establishment of the East India Trading Company on December 31, 1600.  At first the East India Trading Company had little success because Britain had very little that the Indian people wanted.  Eventually, the East India Trading Company, based in London, built an army supported by Britain and became a monopolistic trading company.  The company did not limit themselves to trade and became involved in politics and "acted as an agent of British imperialism in India from the early 18th century to the mid-19th century" ( ).  India offered a wide variety of materials for trade such as: silks, tea, sugar, indigo dye, and opium.  These materials could be found in the rich Indian soil, making India an invaluable and profitable source to the British.  In 1857, there was an Indian Mutiny, called the Indian Uprising to the Indians, showing the difference in views of the British presence.  The Indians were successful for one year until Britain brought in more machinery.  Eventually, India demanded independence.  Upon leaving, the British ordered a partition of India, sending Muslims to the north (today's Pakistan) and the Hindus to the south, creating a civil war.  In August of 1947, India was awarded its independence.  In 1901, when Kim was published, Britain was still considered to be most powerful empire in the world and India was an important part of the empire.  During this time, several Brits called India home. 

Map Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons:

The Great Game

During the 19th century, Russia and Britain battled for control over parts of India (what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan).  During this time, Russia was expanding south, towards the northern border of India, throwing the British into a frenzy with fear of Russian take-over of the Indian areas under British influence.  In Kim, the 'Great Game' is referenced often and Kim becomes involved in the 'Great Game' through Mahbub Ali, the horse trader.  In the beginning of Kim's involvement of the 'Great Game' it seems harmless but the true dangers of it become evident the longer Kim is involved.      

Indebted to the following sources:

"Britain v. Russia -The Great Game." Web. <>. 
"In On The Great Game - Edit Page - Opinion - Home - The Times of India." The Times of India: Latest News India, World & Business News, Cricket & Sports, Bollywood. 2 May 2010. Web. <>. 
"India: Imperialism, Partition and Resistance." Socialist Review Contents. Web. <>. 
"Manas: History and Politics, British India." Web. <>. 
Marshall, Peter. "BBC - History - British History in Depth: The British Presence in India in the 18th Century." BBC - Homepage. 11 May 2009. Web. <>. 

Indian Music

Bansuri Flute 

--This is a musical sample of a Bansuri, or Indian, flute in E bass.  It is one of the oldest instruments from India.

Vande Mataram 

--This is the national song of India.

Music courtesy of Wiki Commons and information indebted to the following sources:

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