The Man Who Would Be King Author: Rudyard Kipling Year Published: 1888 Genre: novella Pages: 13-25



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Reflection Questions

Answer each question in complete sentences with textual support from your reading of The Man Who Would Be King and the lesson.



  1. How do Dravot and Carnehan alter their appearance for their journey to Kafiristan?  What does their willingness to shed their identity as Englishmen reveal about their views of the British Empire?


They completely changed their attire and shaved their heads into patterns (When we left
the caravan, Dravot took off all his clothes
and mine too, and said we would be heathen,
because the Kafirs didn’t allow Mohammedans
to talk to them. So we dressed betwixt
and between, and such a sight as Daniel
Dravot I never saw yet nor expect to see
again. He burned half his beard, and slung
a sheep-skin over his shoulder, and shaved
his head into patterns. He shaved mine,
too, and made me wear outrageous things to
look like a heathen.). This willingness to shed their English identity shows that they care little for the empire.


  1. How does the narrator’s descriptions of his job and newspaper office compare to the adventures of Dravot and Carnehan as they journey to Kafiristan?  What do you learn about the narrator’s view of life as an Englishman in India?


Kipling’s job and the newspaper office are considerably less exciting than Kafiristan, but it is also safer. There is less need for radical change, but there is also less to be gained or lost. Kipling’s life is fairly static; it has few to no surprises and is somewhat mechanical due to the repetition (The wheel of the world swings through
the same phases again and again. Summer
passed and winter thereafter, and came and
passed again. The daily paper continued
and I with it, and upon the third summer
there fell a hot night, a night-issue, and a
strained waiting for something to be telegraphed
from the other side of the world,
exactly as had happened before. A few great
men had died in the past two years, the machines
worked with more clatter, and some
of the trees in the Office garden were a few
feet taller. But that was all the difference.).


  1. How do Dravot and Carnehan first gain the trust of the natives in Kafiristan?  What does this reveal about their attitude toward the natives?


They brought peace to Kafiristan by fighting all of its battles for it using modern technology and drill. This reveals that they view the natives as decidedly inferior as they are quite willing to fight all their battles for them due to the lack of perceived risk (Then Carnehan goes alone to the
Chief, and asks him in dumb show if he
had an enemy he hated. ‘I have,’ says the
Chief. So Carnehan weeds out the pick of
his men, and sets the two of the Army to
show them drill and at the end of two weeks
the men can manœuvre about as well as
Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief
to a great big plain on the top of a mountain,
and the Chiefs men rushes into a village
and takes it; we three Martinis firing into
the brown of the enemy.).


  1. What methods does the author use to create a longer passage of time in this section of the novella?  How does the passage of time relate to the plot? 

Kipling finds ways to burn time by asking several questions and incorporating his reunion with Carnehan into the text. Moreover, Carnehan himself gets distracted a lot. The passage of time relates to the plot because Dravot and Carnehan knew Kipling before.

  1. How do Dravot and Carnehan work to establish peace in the region?  How do the actions of Dravot and Carnehan in Kafiristan compare to the actions of the British Empire?

They establish peace by uniting the warring states by conquest. The actions of Dravot and Carnehan are similar to those of the British Empire because they help technologically and bring a degree of peace to the areas they occupy, but they also use their power to become richer and aren’t after the good of their people beyond what allows them to get richer and have legitimate rule (“That was all rock, and there was a
little village there, and Carnehan says,—
‘Send ’em to the old valley to plant,’ and
takes ’em there and gives ’em some land that
wasn’t took before … ‘My Gord, Carnehan,’ says Daniel,
‘this is a tremenjus business, and we’ve got
the whole country as far as it’s worth having.
I am the son of Alexander by Queen Semiramis,
and you’re my younger brother and
a god too!”).

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