p.p1 you have been assigned this semester

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Imagine that you are a critical reviewer of children’s literature. Using the book that you have been assigned this semester to present make a case for why it is (or is not) valuable for a child to read today.

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The book I was assigned to present was The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and it is not a book that I believe is valuable for a child to read today. It is indisputable that Kipling is known for being a controversial writer. It is hard to examine The jungle Book without comparing it to: “The White Man’s Burden” which is one of Kipling’s most well-known works.”The White Man’s Burden” is only a brief understanding into the way Europeans vindicated their colonial ambitions. The poor white man, said Kipling, is predestined to the pain and suffering of labor, due to going to foreign places and raising up the local savages into civilized society.This was written originally for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was later altered to serve as a prime example for how America was meant to treat the newly immigrated Philippines.

The Jungle Books involves Kipling mentioning a number of different stories, many of which include a wild child by the name of Mowgli, who has been raised by wolves. The tales and stories of Mowgli’s are the most well-known in the The Jungle Books, as they are also the foundation for a new film by Jon Favreau, and a 1967 animated film by disney, as well as three additional movies. The stories contain a small boy who is known for being a master of elephants (“Toomai of the Elephants) or a master of seals (“The White Seal”), a conversationist with a mule, elephant, and camels, (“Servants of the Queen”), as well as many others. Although these stories all encompass the same storyline of a wild child, Mowgli stories is the foundation behind these stories. We find ourselves constantly returning to these stories, to compute the nature of the racism within The Jungle Book as well as the racism presented by the author.                   

Mowgli isn’t like any other boy- he is a jungle child. He is taught all about the jungle and the ways around it. The reason he is able to do so in such large measures is because all of the animals that surround him can talk. Animals of different species talk and understand each other, and mirror many behavioral characteristics that mirror those of humans. Monkeys are shown as unsavory and unhinged. Wolves are mainly nourishing.  Wolves are, by and large, nurturing. Monkeys are obnoxious and stark-screeching mad. And Mowgli, is the only human among all of these animals, and he is the only one who is able to possess the respect and love of almost all of the animals.

If we assume that Mowgli represents the British and the Jungle symbolizes India, we are brought to a horrid conclusion about The Jungle Books. Mowgli has the ability to take advantage of every other species, due to the fact that they are all lower in Kipling’s suggested ranking. The Animals in the jungle are seen constantly agreeing and going along with Mowgli’s decisions even when they don’t necessarily agree with that which he decides. This is all a product of the natural order of how we view these things: humans are superior to animals, while white are superior to everything else. India in its vastness contains a wide variety of ethnicities – Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Hindustanis, Bengalis (some Hindu, some Muslim), Sansis, Christians, Jews, and on and on. India’s diversity relates directly to the diversity shown in the jungle, which is home to a number of different species. Mowgli takes what he needs from each group, and has an outstanding superiority over them since he is a human. He rules over the entire jungle, just as we have seen the British rule over India. 

There are some very powerful messages presented in The Jungle Book that are hard to overlook. Kipling’s book has monkeys, naturally seen as the worst of animals. These animals are unable to have and hold a government of their own, so they only possess the ability to mimic others around them. I’m not saying that Kipling should be banned or censored, but I am saying that is vile to often put his ideas into context first. His ideas should not be presented out of context, as this can be very controversial.