Germinal Kim Rudyard Kipling Term Paper

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[. . .] This idea is illustrated by Kim's ability to resist Lurgan's hypnosis in chapter nine. Although many of his native skills and street smarts have aided him in his life to this point, he is able to resist Lurgan's manipulations by reciting his mathematical tables repeatedly in his mind. Significantly, this is a skill that Kim learned from his British teacher; the result is that Kim becomes a stronger individual by borrowing the strengths of both cultures that he has been exposed to. Kipling is suggesting that British strengths include the higher mental abilities, while Indian strengths are more spiritual and grounded in nature.

Etienne's identity, on the other hand -- though it too grows through the events of the novel -- is strongly linked to his political awareness. Zola portrays Etienne as a hard working optimist, who is also initially naive. It is significant that he embraces socialism and far-left politics through his association with Souvarine and literature well before he has a realistic grasp of what socialism truly is. So, his simplistic view of politics is married to his passion for change; the result is that "a rebellion was germinating in this narrow hole nearly six hundred meters below ground." (Zola, 70). Etienne, as he becomes more aware of the conditions around him, first recognizes the necessity for rebellion; and second, he ideological footing upon which such a rebellion should stand. Nevertheless, his grasp of socialist politics, even when he becomes the figurehead for the movement, is never complete. Zola implies that such a realization is something that still needs to be hoped for: the working classes will eventually fully develop their notions of social equality, and then a true revolution can begin.

In Kim, however, the full germination of his identity seems to be nearly complete by the end of the novel. He declares, "I am Kim. I am Kim. And what is Kim? His soul repeated it again and again... tears trickled down his nose and with an almost audible click he felt the wheels of his being lock up anew on the world without." (Kipling, 331). This realization is only possible because all the competing sources of identity and education have been completed by the climax of the novel: he is both English and Indian. By recognizing this he finally works himself into a form that he can be happy with. Still, the secondary question -- what is Kim? -- is never answered. Additionally, it is doubtful as to whether there could ever be a satisfactory answer to the question his soul poses.

It is remains significant that Kim's mission and the Lama's converge in such a way. The Lama comes to appreciate the fact that his mission to find the river has been a mode of self-deception; he has been driven by pride, and the fight brought out rage that he had not believed he possessed. This knowledge comes at the same time that Kim is able to establish himself as a spy and can finally look back on his short life and perceive the varying degrees to which he has been molded by contrasting sources. In short, both characters see themselves for what they truly are for the first time. Consequently, Kipling sees the future as being typified by this conglomeration of cultural forces; he believes that it can be peaceful.

Germinal, however, takes a more broad view of the final form that the miners' movement has taken -- there is hope for the future. Basically, even though Etienne becomes a scapegoat and the rebellion fails, "Beneath the blazing of the sun, in that morning of new growth, the countryside rang with song, as its belly swelled with a black and avenging army of men, germinating slowly in its furrows, growing upwards in readiness for harvests to come, until one day soon their ripening would burst open the earth itself." (Zola, 496). To Zola, there is still hope for socialist revolution.

Works Cited

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. London: Macmillan and Company, 1901.… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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