The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling, 1894

Wayne read a copy of The Jungle Book at the condo in Palm Springs, so I checked out this version from the Library. It has 3 of the 7 stories and was illustrated by Nicola Bayley. The three stories are: Mowgli’s Brothers, Kaa’s Hunting, and Tiger! Tiger!.

In Mowgli’s Brothers, a little boy is saved from Shere Khan, the evil tiger, by Father and Mother wolves and raised as one of their own. Mother Wolf names him Mowgli which means little frog. The Law of the Jungle is taught to little Mowgli by Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the black panther. They love him and so does Mother Wolf and his wolf-pack siblings. When Akela, the wise, old pack leader is soon to be ousted by the evil converts to Shere Khan’s ways, Mowgli has to leave the pack and go live with man. His heart breaks and he cries and cries for the first time in his life.

In Kaa’s Hunting, Kaa is a huge python whom Baloo and Bagheera enlist to save Mowgli from the monkeys, who have kidnapped him and taken him to an old ruined city in the jungle. The monkeys are the least-respected animals in the jungle. Baloo says, “I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all the peoples of the Jungle–except the Monkey-Folk who live in the trees. They have no Law. They are outcasts. They have no speech of their own, but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the Jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter and all is forgotten. We of the Jungle have no dealings with them…They are very many, evil, dirty, shameless, and they desire, if they have any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle-People. But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and filth on our heads.”

This is how the monkeys talk about themselves: “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the Jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,” they shouted.

Kaa the python saves Mowgli from the Monkey-people.

In Tiger! Tiger!, Mowgli is living with man and is herds the cattle. His wolf-brother warns him that Shere Khan is coming to get him. He uses the cattle, the bulls, and Grey Brother and Akela (the old wolf-pack leader) and they trap Shere Khan in a ravine and Mowgli is skinning Shere Khan when an old man (Buldeo) from the village tries to claim it for himself. Buldeo lies to the rest of the village and Mowgli is not allowed to return to the village, even though he saved their lives. He goes back to the Council Rock with Grey Brother and Akela and gathers the pack to him. He is sitting on Shere Khan’s skin. “Ever since Akela had been deposed, the Pack had been without a leader, hunting and fighting at their own pleasure. But they answered the call from habit, and some of them were lame from the traps they had fallen into, and some limped from shot-wounds, and some were mangy from eating bad food, and many were missing; but they came to the Council Rock, all that were left of them, and saw Shere Khan’s striped hide on the rock, and the huge law was dangling at the end of the empty, dangling feet.” … “Lead us again, O Akela. Lead us again, O Man-cub, for we be sick of this lawlessness, and we would be the Free People once more.” They come to their senses and ask Akela to lead them again. “So Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the Jungle from that day on. But he was not always alone, because years afterwards he became a man and married. But that is a story for grown-ups.”