Rudyard Kipling: Poems

Kim as a Two-Sided Man

In Kipling’s Kim, our protagonist fills the role of a hybrid: He is Irish, but born in India. As a result, his life is split in two by the different influences. His duality allows him to fill the various roles that are requested of him. Kim is a versatile boy, able to handle several difficult tasks beyond his age. Indeed, it is apparent that he is a “two-sided man.” This theme is introduced in the poem “The Two-Sided Man,” by Kipling, of which a section can be found in the introduction of chapter eight. It emphasizes the character’s duality in the phrase, “And praised be Allah Who gave me two / Separate sides to my head!” For Kim, it seems that each of his sides is separated into two separate worlds, one of being a chela and one of being a sahib.

One world, in which Kim lives, is the world created with the Lama. After he joins the Lama’s journey, he gets sucked into the world of the spiritual. In the poem, there is a reference to the “side” of the spiritual, as it says, ““Wesley's following, Calvin's flock, / White or yellow or bronze, / Shaman, Ju-ju or Angekok, / Minister, Mukamuk, Bonze.” This implies that all walks of the spiritual life are good, creating an equality reflected in Kim’s ethnic background. Although...

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