2009-10 AM Fictions of India - Expert Group on Identity/Hybridity

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Expert Group on Identity/Hybridity

What are Kim’s two sides? Is it Indian and English or any of his roles he slips into? Does he just put on a mask, but still be Kim? Or does he really live this role?

Kim is neither fully English nor fully Indian. He grew up in India, he is familiar with the living in the country but he is also considered English. One has to decide whether he is more or less Indian or rather English. It always depends on the situation. The roles he can slip into are just roles they are not a full part of Kim. Anyway which disguise he has inside it is still Kim.

What is Kim’s identity? Is he an impossible character because he has so many talents?

Kim knows how to use his talents in a smart way. But one has to keep in mind that his talents are supported by every encounter with new people, for example people of the Great Game. So, one can argue if his talents have been evolved to a near perfect level, it makes Kim seem like an impossible character. He has been formed by people like Lurgin Sahib or his education at St. Xavier’s.

National Characteristics and Cultural Identities in "Kim":

The novel “Kim” represents a great diversity within the Indian culture. Different cultures and origins, such as Orientals, Bengali, Sahibs, Kunjiri, Jhampanis, Indian, Irish and British are represented. Kipling therefore suggests “Unity in Diversity” (Bose, S., Jalal, A.: “Modern South Asia”. Dehli. OUP. 2004.) Although white Europeans are considered as Sahibs, there is a distinction of different kinds of Sahibs (e.g. British non-agents, British agents, French, Russians). Kim himself is called “The friend of all the World”, having powerful native friends (e.g. Mahbub Ali). Representations of India need to be considered from different view-points. The two extremes are the lama’s and the author’s view-point. The lama for example would take the Holy Ones into consideration and then everyone else in the wheel. One could argue Kipling’s viewpoint as being imperialistic by setting the British colonizers on top, other Europeans below and native Indians at the lowest level. The two extremes represent the divide between the spiritual and the materialistic outlook which lead through the book. For Kim’s viewpoint we might have to distinguish between his perception of society before and after attending school.