Magic and the Occult in Kim

In order to unpack KiplingÃÂÂs complicated stance toward English imperialism in his novel Kim, one can begin with an investigation of the role of the occult in the novel. Some critics have read KiplingÃÂÂs use of the occult as fantasy, a tool for bridging the gap between his limited experience as an Anglo-Indian and the multiplicity of voices, religions, and traditions in India. Problematically, then, the world of magic (like youth) must be guarded and secured by the way of the gun or imperialistic paternity. Kim, as a spy for the British Raj, is protector of the magical, Orientalized East. But how much of that magic is simply illusion? As the LamaÃÂÂs ÃÂÂchelaÃÂ? or guide, he is both spiritual subordinate and protector, necessary to the Tibetan BuddhistÃÂÂs physical survival. Kim is superior to the Lama in the ways of the worldÃÂ"obtaining food, managing money, and, later, after he is given a Western education, in mathematics and penmanship. It is Kim, not the Lama, who is the hero of KiplingÃÂÂs book; and it is through his perspective that we, as readers, are allowed to experience India. From an Orientalist standpoint, the most effective colonial rulers are those who, like Kim, know India, and are thus able to...

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