Readers of Kipling’s “Tiger Tiger” are treated to an intriguing adventure of a man-cub, Mowgli. Mowgli is the protagonist in this story and was raised amongst the wolves in a sprawling Seonee jungle. The predicaments facing Mowgli started back in the village where he exhibited some questionable manners and appearances by ignoring human speech and customs. The reader is made to understand that Mowgli had a wild appearance besides having tooth like scars on the limbs. In addition, Mowgli seemed to have difficulties understanding human speech or talks and he apparently possessed some mysterious powers that were also uncommon with his kinsmen in the village. Mowgli therefore fails to fit in the man society and takes to the jungles to live amongst the wolves probably with high hopes that his woes would come to an end once in the jungle. It does not happen as he expected and after awful fallout with the wolves’ council, he decides to go back to the village, feeling dejected and frustrated. He is unsure if he will be welcomed back in the village to lead a satisfying life with his former kinsmen. The main character is naturally a citizen of no nation with his personal attributes betraying him in both the jungle and the village as well.
Mowgli’s troubles in the village are apparently far from over. Besides possessing such attributes that are not man-like, he is arguably so proud to the extent that his kinsmen in the village cannot put up with his stubbornness. For instance, Mowgli disrespects village priests who attempt to admonish his tendency to ignore important aspects of the caste, village elders who strongly believe various jungle tales that Mowgli dismisses as “cobwebs and moon talk,” (Kipling 52), as well as the master hunter of his village who coins some exaggerated stories, which arguably not only finishes him but also renders him an outcast in that village. Mowgli is as a result certainly unsettled and feeling homeless in a place that is naturally his home as it was in the village that he was born. The author of the story clearly depicts Mowgli, for the first instance, as a citizen in no nation. In a real life situation, citizens of a nation find comfort and peace in their own nations. All major systems including governments are designed to ensure that every citizen is protected and leads a considerably decent and comfortable life, as opposed to immigrants living in foreign nations. In other words, great deals of interests of citizens of a nation are catered for through multiagency interventions for as long as no one gets disadvantaged in such an arrangement. Equally, the citizens respond to a fiduciary duty of respecting and upholding such values and other establishments put in place for a peaceful coexistence. This is however not the case for Mowgli and both him and the village are seemingly tired of each other, probably waiting for the most opportune moment to part ways.
Mowgli rises to go after he has endured several tall tales told in the circles of the village club. A feeling of frustration and dejection are apparent in his decision to leave the village saying, “all the evening I have lain here listening…and, except once or twice, Buldeo has not said one word of truth concerning the jungle, which is at his very doors. How, then shall I believe the tales of ghosts and gods and goblins which he says he has seen?” (Kipling 52). In this incidence, it is deliberately made clear to the reader that Mowgli was adamant to leave the village for a new nation where he probably hoped to find peace and comfort unlike in the village. It is for this reason that he defiantly refuses to take caution from the village’s most experienced hunter, Buldeo, who paints a terrific picture of the jungle in an attempt to dissuade Mowgli from leaving the village. Mowgli instead dismisses Buldeo, village priest and hundreds of other villagers gathered at the gate as he stepped out of the village telling himself that they are behaving like gray apes. It is natural for someone to carve out some place for them as they mature and probably find out the natural world is not giving them space to do what they desired as well as pursue their personal life goals, and this is what Mowgli is seemingly looking to achieve. It however seems lost to Mowgli that both the village and the jungle are controlled by elders that wiled immense powers over their subjects. The elders also command great respect from their subjects and more so the youths and as such, Mowgli could under no circumstance assert his own will or desire on them as that would amount to disrespecting them. In addition, the decision by the protagonist in the story to move up to the jungle to live amongst wolves is largely unnatural, and serves to portray Mowgli as neither beast nor man. This attribute of the Mowgli further qualifies him as a citizen of no nation, neither the village nor the jungle, as he is constantly embroiled in such a conflict that denies him a right to permanently belong to either.
In the jungle, Mowgli is welcomed and received by both mother and father wolf. As he joins the pack, Mowgli is informed that he must let the pack have their say. This means that he would have to be submissive and respectful to the wolves for a peaceful coexistence. In some form of a ritual in the jungle, all cubs deemed old enough were taken to the pack council where after identification by other wolves, they were allowed to roam all over the jungle as they pleased and no wolf was allowed to cause harm to them until such a time when they slayed their first buck. On the day of council, mother and father wolf presented their cubs and Mowgli before Akela, the leader of the pack. When it was Mowgli’s turn to be presented to the council, there were decries from a section of other members of the jungle arguing that Mowgli was theirs and did not belong to father and mother wolf. Not being part of the free people of the jungle, Mowgli could not speak for himself and there thus ensued turmoil amongst the members of the jungle, most of whom were baying for the man-cub’s blood. It is then determined that since man-cub are known for wisdom, Mowgli be spared to live amongst the wolves for he could save them on some rainy day. Mowgli was then taught the tactics for survival in the jungle but was all along trending carefully not to be devoured by Shere Khan, a tiger-family member of the jungle. Intense fallout between Mowgli and other members of the jungle led by Shere Khan coupled with the fact that Akela, the leader of the pack who played a great role in ensuring that Mowgli integrated into the pack pretty easily, necessitates that Mowgli returns to men in an escape for his life mission. Apparently, the jungle was going to be his home not anymore because he was a man cub. He therefore bids mother and father wolf good bye and embarks on a journey back to the village. Whether he would be gladly welcomed back into the village by men remained to be seen bearing in mind his stubbornness, appearance and disrespectfulness.
In conclusion, Mowgli perfectly fits in the story as a unique character that was both natural and unnatural to fit in any society or nation. As indicated he does not meet the threshold to coexist harmoniously with either fellow men in the village or the wolves and other jungle members in the jungle. His second return to the village is informed by the unbearable nature of the jungle. Notably, Mowgli had been warned by Buldeo, village priest and other villagers against his endeavors to live amongst wolves and other creatures of the jungle. They would and they did betray him for not being one of the free people of the jungle. Mowgli would have to submit to the traditional village elders demands that he demonstrate high level of respect to them and his kinsmen. Otherwise, Mowgli would continue to live his status as a citizen of no nation.
Kipling, Rudyard. “‘Tiger! Tiger!'” The Jungle Books. Edited by W.W. Robinson, Oxford UP, 2008, pp. 48-66.
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