The theme that interests us is the quest for identity in Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim. The book was written in 1901 and the plot takes place in India during the time of the British colonization. Kim presents several quests: a quest implies that the protagonist has to seek something noble, like the River of the Arrow for the lama, and that it generally has to undertake a long and difficult trip to reach it. Actually, Kim relates the story of the ambitious trip of two characters throughout India seeking for something fundamental in their lives. The theme of identity is essential in Kim: both Oriental and European origins of the eponymous hero play a major role in the novel. That is why it is interesting to study the novel through the prism of the quest for identity. We are going to see how the quest goes on and what is hidden behind this quest for identity.
[...] was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference [ ] Kim was white.” (Chapter in this sentence, we can feel that the behavior of Kim, which is completely Indian as we can see through the accumulation and the repetition of cannot erase the white blood and body of Kim. We find again this idea in the episode of the serpent: native training can quench the white man's horror of the serpent.” This sentence shows us the difference between the European biological identity of Kim and the Indian cultural one (the word “training” makes the difference between the natural and the acquired). [...]
[...] This natural gift of Kim explains why he is so much attracted by the Great Game. It seems like a game for him to assume different identities: demon in Kim woke up and sang with joy as he put on the changing dresses, and changed speech and gesture therewith.” (Chapter 9). Kim is in fact an actor; he is always playing parts, always searching to find new identities: “forgetting the little play just ended” (chapter 11). That explains why he needs to feel his unity during this journey with the different questionings that punctuate the book. [...]
[...] The only parent that Kim is supposed to have is the woman who takes care of him, but she is very mysterious: she does not appear in the novel, and the author says that she “pretended to keep a second-hand furniture shop by the square where the cheap cabs the fact that we don't really know what she does in her life shows the lack of interest in this character and thus the loose link between her and Kim. Furthermore, when Kim meets the lama, he goes with him without telling anyone. [...]
[...] Moreover, the tension between India and England inside Kim is a symbolic representation of the real relationship those two countries had at that epoch: it is said that the book is in favor of imperialism, and this is something we can see in the introduction's scene: Kim is on the cannon and he is dominating a Muslim boy and a Hindu boy, who represent the majority of India's people and Kim is depicted by far as the most clever of the three boys: this view is representative of the author's thought about the domination of India by England. [...]
[...] Moreover, quests are generally realized by extraordinary people, heroes or legendary persons; they are difficult project to carry out, and the people who carry them out have generally special features, like the lama who is extraordinarily pious and Kim who is extraordinarily witty. Furthermore, his quest begins with a prophecy, the Red Bull in a green field: there is thus a fantastic dimension and a part of destiny in his quest for identity: that is why we can say that through this quest, Kim becomes a legendary character as we can find in fairy tales. [...]
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