The Jungle Book | Study Guide

Rudyard Kipling

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The Jungle Book | Plot Summary

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Summary

Chapters 1 and 2

In Chapter 1 "Mowgli's Brothers," Shere Khan, the lame tiger, shows up at Mother and Father Wolf's cave, looking for the man-cub the tiger has been hunting. Mother Wolf decides to adopt the baby boy to protect him from Shere Khan and names him Mowgli. Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther teach Mowgli the Law of the Jungle, while Shere Khan turns the pack against the boy. When the old wolf Akela must step down as a leader, the pack throws Mowgli out, and Shere Khan demands they turn Mowgli over to him. Mowgli uses the "red flower," fire, to keep the wolves and Shere Khan at bay, saving Akela's life and promising he will return with Shere Khan's skin on his head. The song that follows the end of the story is "Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack." Chapter 2 describes the wolves and their pack mentality during the hunt.

Chapters 3 and 4

In Chapter 3 "Kaa's Hunting" Mowgli learns the Law of the Jungle from Baloo and Bagheera, as well as all of the languages of the animals, including the Strangers' Hunting Call, which allows a stranger to hunt for food in other territory when he is hungry. Mowgli ends up being kidnapped by the Bandar-log, the Monkey People, with whom he had been playing earlier. Rann the Kite—a bird—tells Baloo and Bagheera where Mowgli is, and they get Kaa the rock python to help them save Mowgli. Kaa hypnotizes the monkeys with his Dance of the Hunger of Kaa, which brings the entranced monkeys close enough for him to eat. Mowgli admits to Baloo and Bagheera he was wrong to trust the Bandar-log. The song following "Kaa's Hunting" in Chapter 4, "Road-Song of the Bandar-Log," shows how lawless and easily distracted the Monkey People are.

Chapters 5 and 6

In Chapter 5 "Tiger! Tiger!" Mowgli travels to a village and is taken in by Messua, the wife of the richest villager, whose son was taken by a tiger. When Mowgli sleeps outside, Gray Brother finds him and tells him Shere Khan is on his way to kill Mowgli. Mowgli, Gray Brother, and Akela concoct a plan to use the cow and buffalo herds to trap Shere Khan in a ravine. Mowgli, who rides Rama the herd bull to control the buffalo, gets Rama to trample Shere Khan to death. Buldeo the hunter tries to take the hide away from Mowgli, but Mowgli scares him by communicating with Akela, and Buldeo turns the villagers against Mowgli. Mowgli goes back to Council Rock with the tiger hide but won't take leadership of the pack even though they ask him to lead. Mowgli leaves the pack with four other cubs to hunt on their own. The song after the end of the chapter, "Mowgli's Song" in Chapter 6, expresses Mowgli's sadness that he belongs nowhere now, even after killing Shere Khan.

Chapters 7 and 8

Chapter 7, titled "The White Seal," is set in Novastoshnah, in the Bering Sea. A seal named Sea Catch and his wife, Matkah, have a white seal baby, Kotick. Kotick decides he must save the other seals from being killed by men and searches for five years to find a place where men do not go. He finally finds a herd of sea cows and follows them through a tunnel to a safe beach. Kotick comes back as an adult seal to his old beach to fulfill his destiny of saving his people. He fights the other seals, convincing them to come with him to the safe beach at the end of the tunnel. The song from Chapter 8 titled "Lukannon" tells the sad story of the killing of the seals by men every year.

Chapters 9 and 10

"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," Chapter 9, is the story of a curious little mongoose who becomes a house mongoose. He saves his human family from a small, brown, poisonous snake named Karait, and is able to kill both Nag and Nagaina, two cobras who try to eat Darzee the Tailorbird's fledglings. Rikki-tikki-tavi spends the rest of his days protecting the family he lives with and the birds in the garden from snakes. At the end of the story Darzee is so grateful he sings a song called "Darzee's Chant" in Chapter 10 in honor of Rikki-tikki-tavi, but he never gets to finish the song because humble and restless Rikki-tikki-tavi interrupts him.

Chapters 11 and 12

Little Toomai in Chapter 11 "Toomai of the Elephants" is a boy who comes from a family of elephant drivers. His father, Big Toomai, drives Kala Nag for Petersen Sahib, the white man who runs the elephant catching drives. Big Toomai doesn't want Little Toomai to participate in wild elephant drives, called Keddahs, because they are too dangerous. However, one night Little Toomai rides Kala Nag and witnesses the elephant dance, which no man has seen before. Machua Appa, the head tracker, and Petersen Sahib honor the boy as Toomai of the Elephants, and allow him to be in the Keddah. The song "Shiv and the Grasshopper" in Chapter 12 follows the story. The poem is about the god Shiva, and it shows how precious Toomai is to his mother.

Chapters 13 and 14

The Amir of Afghanistan is visiting a camp of the Viceroy's soldiers in Chapter 13 "Her Majesty's Servants." The narrator, a soldier, escapes being trampled by a camel having bad dreams and ends up eavesdropping on the camp animals, who talk about what they each are afraid of, argue about what it means to fight, and realize they have no choice but to obey their drivers even though they don't want to be in a war. The song in Chapter 14, "Parade-Song of the Camp Animals," describes the role of each group of camp animals and expresses the suffering of the animals and their drivers.

The Jungle Book Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction

Introduction

1 Mowgli enters a wolf den, hunted by Shere Khan, the tiger.

Rising Action

2 Bagheera and Baloo help Mowgli get into the wolf pack.

3 Mowgli, kicked out of the pack, vows to kill Shere Khan.

4 Baloo and Bagheera teach Mowgli the Law of the Jungle.

5 Monkey People kidnap Mowgli.

6 Kaa helps to rescue Mowgli.

7 Mowgli lives in the village 20 miles from the wolf pack.

8 Mowgli plots with Gray Brother against Shere Khan.

Climax

9 Mowgli, Gray Brother, and Akela trap and kill Shere Khan.

Falling Action

10 Mowgli is kicked out of the village for frightening Buldeo.

11 Mowgli returns to Council Rock with Shere Khan's hide.

Resolution

12 The wolves beg Mowgli and Akela to lead, but they refuse.

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