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Written by Claire Cornwall
Loyalty and Family
Family and loyalty to family is a theme running throughout the book. From the moment Mowgli wanders into Mother and Father Wolf's cave thru adopt him as their own, Mother Wolf actually favoring him on many occasions. The importance of the Pack is always emphasized and there is a pack hierarchy that ensures decisions are made as a family too. Each of the animals lives in their own family and whatever the animal, when they get married and raise cubs of their own, they are permitted to leave their pack or group and live witching their little nucleus.
Loyalty to family is also paramount; at Mowgli's looking over, she prepares herself to fight til the death for him. Mowgli also demonstrates his loyalty to Akela, his pack's Lone Wolf, by leaving the jungle to protect him, and later by defending him and the entire pack from the red dogs.
Kipling also continues the theme of family loyalty when Mowgli returns to man and finds his biological parents. His mother recognizes him as her son who was stolen not by his appearance but by a bond that she feels; both she an Mowgli's biological father put their own lives at risk by defending him from the angry villagers who believe him to be a sorcerer, and he repays this loyalty by helping them to escape the village before the animals drive man out.
Importance of Rules and Laws
Jungle Law is very important and every cub has to learn it because it is literally life-saving. Rules of the jungle preserve personal safety and they also preserve the future of the jungle and each species within it. Law is practiced democratically with a council and voting systems. When a law is broken then trouble breaks out. For example, jungle law means that Shere Khan has no right to be given Mowgli, but this does not matter to him, and when he flouts the law he is punished.
There are also laws and rules that relate to self protection and the greater good, which sees everyone working together to ensure a future for the jungle. This was most evident when many species worked together to drive man out of the village, feeding or hunting alongside what would normally be prey yet keeping to the rules that prohibit them from hunting each other at that place and time.
Everyone in the Jungle Book is brave and demonstrates their bravery with their willingness to defend or fight. Mowgli repeatedly shows bravery in battle, in killing Shere Khan and in standing up to the villagers. Kaa is also brave when saving Mowgli from the monkeys.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is possessed of enormous bravery in protecting his human family from the kill-hungry cobras, attacking one with great skill in the bath tub, and disappearing into a burrow with the second, determined not to let her escape.
Coming Of Age
Mowgli becomes a young man as the book progresses, and the reader watches him grow from an impulsive and earnest cub into a leader. Like most adolescents he believes he is not allowed to do as much as he wants to do but we see him grow out of that phase and learn patience and the importance of knowledge from his elders. It is also interesting to note that as he and Gray Brother are leaving the village, Mowgli notices a young woman walking towards them and seems captivated by her, a sure indication he is becoming a man and beginning a new stage in his life.
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