Critical analysis of Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

Critical analysis of Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

The short story Rikki Tikki Tavi, is about a mongoose that saves a family and the newly hatched chicks of birds that have a nest in the garden of the family where he lived (Kipling, 1983). The overall story revolves around the seemingly heroic acts of the mongoose. The mongoose eliminates the cobra and its wife when they attack and plan further attacks on the family living in the bungalow. The Cobras, Nag and Nagaina, could represent the individuals in the society who would do anything to succeed in their endeavors. Often times they bring others down so that they achieve their own goals. The theme of the story is all about being team players in the society and lending a helping hand where it is needed without expecting anything in return.

The symbolism makes the story relatable to the society. When the mongoose kills Nag, the whole animal kingdom and the humans break into celebration. This symbolism can be related to a situation where the individuals with ill intentions towards others for the purposes of their personal gain are defeated before they can accomplish their evil motives. The author uses symbolism of animals relating with human beings to imply a lot of things (Sweeney & Hooker, 2005). The actions of the mongoose can relate to a person who is undermined and has to beat themselves in many situations in order to prove their worth. The individual could be a junior employee at work, who the management does not give much attention to but is knowledgeable in crucial fields that saves the company’s operations. The bird’s singing could symbolize the people in the society who have short foresight. They have no time to focus on doing any actual work but are quick to talk and bare no facts that can be useful. The family in the bungalow symbolizes law abiding citizens who are attacked for being vulnerable and their elimination or downfall could benefit the wrong kind of people symbolized by the cobra. There is also the symbolism of the unhatched and the newly hatched eggs of the cobra and the birds respectively. The newly hatched birds could symbolize a new business venture or job of an individual which is the target of destruction by another individual who has a plan that cannot be established unless the one in a new job or business is brought down.

The climax of the short story revolves around the cobra and the mongoose fighting over “territories.” The way the mongoose chases the cobra and eventually kills both cobras and destroys unhatched cobra eggs, shows determination or desperation. The mongoose may have felt desperate once he started the war with the cobras and decided to take them out to protect himself and earn the acceptance of his human family. Rikki may have also been determined to keep everyone safe by eliminating the common enemy. The author stresses the fact that people have to look out for the cobras in their lives and avoid them and at the same time find the mongoose characters and appreciate them. The author also shows how important it is not to undermine people before they have a chance to make a real impression (Earhart, 2017).

To conclude, the Rikki Tikki Tavi story is very symbolic to the society. It relates to the co-existence of people on all levels from the most basic unit of the society which is the family to the corporate world of business. I find this story relating to the society closely where people have surpassed their expectations besides being in need like Rikki Tikki. There are people who can never keep secrets even when it is crucial, these are the people symbolized by Darzee. This short story expresses the overall importance of people knowing who is around them. I find it interesting that the author chose to use a mongoose to play the lead character in his narration because it is such a small animal, swift and hard to catch but in the story it saves lives severally. I find the values that the story stresses useful for progressive co-existence among people.  


Earhart, M. (2017, March 31). How to Write a Critcal Analysis of Short Story. Retrieved from

Kipling, R. (1983). Rikki Tikki Tavi. In R. Kipling, The Jungle Book.

Sweeney, T., & Hooker, F. (2005). Crafting Critical Analysis. Retrieved from Webster University:

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