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Written by Claire Cornwall
"Who speaks for this cub?" asked Akela. "Among the Free People who speaks?" There was no answer, and Mother Wolf got ready for what she knew would be her last fight, if things came to fighting.
Although Mowgli has not been with her family for long, Mother Wolf is already extremely protective of him and demonstrating the deep family loyalty that is a continuing theme throughout the novel. She is prepared to fight til the death for his acceptance into the pack. This quote also illustrates the strict adherence to jungle law witching the community of jungle dwellers, and not even something as unusual as having a human cub in the home alters or overrides the rules in any way. It is only due to the benevolence of Baloo and the quick thinking of Bagheera that Mowgli is accepted at all and his loyalty then extends to both of these characters as well despite the fact that they are not members of his pack.
To do Buldeo justice, if he had been ten years younger he would have taken his chances with Akela had he met the wolf in the woods, but a wolf who obeyed the orders of this boy who had private wars with man-eating tigers was not a common animal.
Buldeo is the wizened village elder who has taken issue with Mowgli over the herding of his buffalo in order to trap Shere Khan. He also knows that there is a price on the head of the tiger and wants to steal the skin from Mowgli in order to claim it. Mowgli is aware of this and asks Akela to guard Budeo, the fact that he does as Mowgli asks him convincing Buldeo that Mowgli is not a mere boy but a sorcerer who can metamorphosize into jungle animals. This idea builds in his head until he has the entire village hunting Mowgli. This is an important incident in the book as the killing of Shere Khan and the restoration of power to Akela allows Mowgli to return to the jungle and also brings stability and order back to the pack, just as he had promised.
A month later, the place was a dimpled mound, covered with soft, green young stuff; and by the end of the rains there was the roaring jungle in full blast on the spot that had been under plow not six months before.
The Jungle Book emphasizes the weakness of man and the superiority of the jungle dwellers, for example one of the laws of the jungle is that man is not to be hunted, a law that is in place because the animals consider man to be so much weaker and to have so many disadvantages that it is not even a fair sport. In this chapter, the land that man has taken from the jungle and turned into fields is reclaimed by the animals, a continuing subject in the book that is contrary to the usual story of man rampaging through the jungle dwellers' habitat, and showing the animals taking back what originally belonged to the jungle. This quote highlights man's insignificance in the scheme of things as the jungle was there before man, and so easily grows over what took man years to accomplish, as if he had never been there.
"Now in the man pack, at this hour, as I remember, they laid them down upon hard pieces of wood in the inside of a mud trap, and having carefully shut out all the clean winds, drew foul cloth over their heavy heads, and made evil songs through their Moses. It is better in the jungle."
Mowgli's perception of human bedtime and the sleeping arrangements of man is just like that of a jungle animal because he had been raised as one. He does not understand beds, linens or houses and when he was living with the man pack chose to sleep outside, partly for familiarity and comfort, and partly so that his wolf brothers could come to him at night. This goes to illustrate why the transition to living with the human pack was so difficult for Mowgli.
"It is hard to cast the skin," said Kaa, as Mowgi sobbed and sobbed with his head on the blind bear's side and his arms round his neck, while Baloo tried feebly to lick his feet.
Kaa sheds his skin every season but his observation is a metaphor for the shedding of Mowgli's adolescence. Although he knows he must indeed move on to the next phase in his life, Mowgli is devastated to leave the family that he loves and would dearly love to not feel the need to move on. It is hard for those he leaves behind to let him go and this follows the theme of coming of age that pops up sporadically through the novel.
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