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Title A White Orphan’s Educational Path in British India : A Postcolonial Perspective on Rudyard Kipling’s Novel Kim
Publication Date
Discipline/Department Languages
University/Publisher Linnaeus University
Abstract In this essay Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim (1901) is dealt with from a postcolonial perspective, and the aim is to show how three father figures - Colonel Creighton, Mahbub Ali and the lama - individually influence Kim’s education. Furthermore, how their point of view on education and parenting can be used to understand the larger concepts of postcolonialism and the pedagogy of Empire. This essay will argue that Kipling provides three different approaches to education that each can be considered the most suitable for a white orphan in British India during the late nineteenth century. Colonel Creighton is the personification of the imperial mindset, an authoritarian leader who strongly believes in institutions such as schools. Whereas Mahbub Ali, the wild horse from beyond the border and a servant of the Great Game, advocates freedom and a non-institutionalised form of education. Last but not least, the Buddhist lama from Tibet wishes to make Kim his chela and teach him the Wheel of Life. Reading Kipling’s novel Kim helps us to create an awareness of how the world order has changed during the decades and also gives us the opportunity to look at our present time in different lights.
Subjects/Keywords Rudyard Kipling; Kim; postcolonial theory; pedagogy; the British Empire; India; white orphan children; father figures.; General Literature Studies; Litteraturvetenskap
Language en
Country of Publication se
Record ID oai:DiVA.org:lnu-49439
Repository diva
Date Indexed 2020-01-03

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…characters that play a much bigger part than Lurgan Sahib and Hurree Babu, and fill the roles as father figures in Kim’s life, namely Mahbub Ali and the lama. Kipling has filled his novel with ‘wonderful fathers, all dedicated men in their different ways…

…both of his masculine, authoritarian father figures wish to tame and manipulate to fit their own political purposes (Landry and Rooney 62). They see ‘the breaking-in process’ (62) as a way to educate and civilise both the native and…

…claim as it can be argued that the lama is in the possession of traits that come across as rather feminine in comparison to the two other masculine father figures. Neither Colonel Creighton, nor Mahbub Ali, express strong feelings of affection towards…

…fact that it is ‘so significant for his rule’ (32). As he is introduced to Kim by Father Victor and Mahbub Ali, they try to convince Colonel Creighton that the best place to send Kim is to ‘St Xavier’s in Partibus at Lucknow [as it is…

…a soldier. After much consideration Father Victor, Colonel Creighton, the lama and Mahbub Ali all reach an agreement and decide to send Kim to the school at Lucknow (Kipling 125). Colonel Creighton believes that it would be a waste not to…

…promise from Father Victor that ‘“[t]hey’ll make a man o’ you, O’Hara, at St Xavier’s – a white man, an’, I hope, a good man”’ (Kipling 128). At the madrissah [school] Kim will be protected from the world outside, a safe place…

…great support and stands up for Kim on several occasions, almost like a big brother, or a father that allows his child to learn from his own mistakes. Mahbub Ali also has an immense amount of trust towards Kim, as he is ‘the one soul in the world who ha…