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Joseph A. Montagna
The two major objectives of the literature portion are:
The major objectives of the history portion are:
- 1. to examine and learn about short story elements,
- 2. to reinforce students’ understanding of the topic of imperialism through the use of The Man Who Would Be King.
The unit is organized in the following manner:
- 1. to learn about imperialism, in general,
- 2. to learn about British Imperialism in India,
- 3. to learn about the growth of the nationalist movement in India.
________Kipling, the man
________The Work, The Man Who Would Be King
________“The Growth of Indian Nationalism” This narrative covers the period 1857-1921. It touches upon the major topics to be covered. To be sure, the period of time prior to 1857 is an interesting period in India’s history, as is the period from 1921 to the present. Some background work by the teacher is recommended.
____Plan for teaching
I hope that the material contained in these pages is helpful to the teacher and the students. The teacher should refer to the bibliography for suggested readings that would provide him/her with the details not covered in the narrative. Also included in the bibliography are a few titles that students may enjoy reading.
Then, he was sent back “home”, to England, to be cared for by strangers. His parents did so without explanation to young Kipling, though they had their reasons. This must have caused a great deal of anguish for him at such a tender age. The psychological wound may have been deep. Later in life Kipling would write “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which is supposed to be autobiographical. In it he writes, “ . . . when a child drinks deep of the waters of hate and cruelty, all the love in the world cannot take it away.”
His time away from India, the land he loved so much, was not long. He returned there in his mid-teens to work as a journalist. Obviously, his experience in this field provided the background for “The Man Who Would Be King” and numerous other works.
Kipling is often thought of by others as an “insider” with regards to life in India. It is true that Kipling understood, loved and lived the Indian culture more so than any Englishman could have, yet he never thought of himself as an insider. He felt as much an outsider in India as he did back “home”, in England. The latter part of his life was spent in many locations throughout the world, including the United States, in search of somewhere that felt like home to him. Insider or not, Kipling was in his true element in India.
Kipling in India as a young journalist provided him with the necessary background to write The Man Who Would Be King. This parable of the fall of an empire is told from the perspective of a journalist, using time in a masterful way, as only Kipling could. Kipling keeps the tale moving and, simultaneously, spins new tales within it.
The setting of the story is India. The narrator, Kipling, begins to spin his yarn. “Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar”, the narrator begins. Kipling uses this line as a lead into his story, relating to the reader that he has yet to be brother to a Prince, having already accomplished the other. He writes that he almost was brother to a Prince once. “I once came near to kinship with what might have been a veritable King”.
The reader is then transported backward in time. (Kipling does this quite often. He seems to ignore time. It is important to note these time switches with your students.) The narrator is on a train in India. Luck had not been kind to him at that time, during which he met another man of similar, or worse, circumstances. The narrator and he converse about many subjects. By the end of the train trip the second man persuaded the first to do him a favor. He was to pass a message on to a friend who was passing through the area. The friend was Daniel Dravot. Peachey Carnehan was the man the narrator was with on the train.
The story is then moved to two years later when the narrator “became respectable”. This is the beginning of part two of this short story. The narrator was now working in a newspaper office in India. His descriptions of the atmosphere, the climate and his thoughts are lucid and honest. They establish a mood. The narrator is not overjoyed by his existence in this part of India. He appears to be bored with it all.
A break in the routine of the day comes with the entrance of Peachey Carnehan and Daniel Dravot into the newspaper office. The two men express their displeasure with the narrator over his alerting the border authorities of their impending arrival. This act was redeemed, however, by the journalist having kept his promise to pass the message along to Dravot. During this visit the two men reveal to the journalist that they re going to cross the frontier “to become kings”. They swore off women and drink, and even drew up a “Contrack” which stated their goals.
The next day the journalist rode to the Kumharsen Serai to see the two men off on their adventure. Peachey and Dravot joined up with a caravan that was forming, and that was the last that the journalist would see of both of them alive. The journalist probably thought that was the last he would ever see of them, for crossing the frontier was extremely dangerous. Surely, they would be killed and forgotten.
The story then jumps two years ahead to when Peachey appears in the newspaper office. He is not immediately recognized by the journalist. This was not due to the journalist’s poor memory, however. Peachey was grotesque. With prompting by Peachey the journalist then remembers who the man is. The journalist is anxious to hear Peachey’s story.
The story that is told is the portion that relates to imperialism. The exploits of Peachey Carnehan and Daniel Dravot mirror imperialist characteristics in the real world: exploitation of the indigenous people and other natural resources, incitement of skirmishes between neighboring people for greater control over all, complete and utter disregard of cultural differences. This is hardly a complete list. Through discussion students and teacher could develop a lengthy list. It is at this point where the literary and the history objectives of this unit intersect. Through this piece of literature students can discover the tendencies of imperialism.
I think this story will be well received by students. The teacher will have to adjust strategies to fit their needs. The plan for teaching requires the students to read this story several times. New information can be extracted with each reading. The teacher is the best judge with regards to the length of each assignment and the work required. The biggest “demon” to be on the alert for is students growing weary with repeated readings.
Britain had a policy of neutral rule during these years which was intended to have little or no effect upon Hindu society, when, in fact, every law, every tax every innovation had varying degrees of influence on it. These effects were viewed by the Hindus as being basically evil. Neutral rule could have been accomplished had these changes merely existed alongside the old, rather than to have supplanted it. In practice, however, through political patronage, western civilization was imposed upon the people of India. If one wanted to become educated or get a job, one had to conform to the new order. Young Indians were affected by what they saw and grew to question Hindu teachings. Land settlements and displacement of landlords also caused serious tensions in Indian society.
So, in this period of great tension a man would be appointed governorgeneral, who was a firm believer in the superiority of western civilization, and was committed to bring it to India. This man was Lord Dalhousie. His term as governor-general endured for eight years, from 1848-56. Dalhousie was a virtual dynamo; constructing railways and roads, stringing telegraph lines, and establishing the first three Indian universities. All of these innovations, when viewed from a western perspective, appear to be great accomplishments, while Indians viewed them as threatening to their way of life. This contributed to the condition of unrest.
Determined to press on Dalhousie annexed lands of the Hindu princes, the Maratha states and other regions. He was of the opinion that the more territory that was directly under British rule, the better it was for all concerned. In his eight years as governor-general Dalhousie managed to create abrupt change and, upon his departure from India in 1856, appeared to have created tranquility. In fact, beneath this veneer of calm was the hot cauldron close to boiling over.
The Mutiny was this boiling over. From this incident grew a rude awakening for the Europeans in India. Their self confidence and their confidence in subordinates was thoroughly shaken. Their sense of mission in India needed to be examined and redefined. There was an awakening on the part of Indians, as well. Although there was a resistance to change in favor of traditional values, there was also a questioning of these values. There was a realization that western society may have some benefit for them.
The stage was now set for a reorganization and reorientation which would transform British India for the next sixty years. Out of this grew three general resolutions: 1) closer touch with Indian opinion, 2) classes with a stake in the country would be treated with consideration, and 3) caution would be exerted not to interfere with religious and social customs.
The first was a reorganization of the manner in which British rule of India was to be governed. From this, the East India Company became the scapegoat. Direct rule would be accomplished through a Viceroy, answerable to the Crown. Changes were also effected in the membership of executive councils.
The second was to bring rewards to the princes and landed classes who were generally viewed as having prevented the revolt from spreading. They were also viewed as being able to exercise some control over the masses. The Hindu princes were seen as props of imperialism, from whom pro-British attitudes would spread.
The third was the policy of westernization. Up until this period policies were such that attempted to promote quick changes in Indian society. The British now adopted an attitude that change was not going to occur rapidly or through force, and that they should sit back and wait patiently for change to take root. There is a particular irony here, in that Britain, with all of Her fervor to expand in India, too committed to withdraw from the sub-continent, must now reverse the course taken in the past and turn Her attention to change that would better suit these conditions.
The period which was to follow was one in which social and religious customs were not interfered with, at least not without popular support, i.e. thuggee, suttee, or infanticide. Britain’s attention would now turn to building India’s infrastructure. Intense programs were introduced which built bridges, roads, railways, canals, dams and telegraph facilities. Efforts were also made in education and science. The Indians, it was thought, would be left to do what they will with these changes. Percival Spear’s History of India calls this “the importation of the body of the West without its soul”.
The attitude on the part of Britain was that India was so conservative as to be practically unchangeable. Self rule was thought to be far into the future, and the apparent manipulation of the upper classes made Britain to feel comfortable. Therein lies the flaw in the collective thought of British officials; they failed to recognize the power and the importance of a class of Indians they, themselves, created, the new, English knowing class of Indians who occupied such positions as; teachers, lawyers, clerks and subordinate officials of the civil service.
The effect of the education of Indians, through an enlightened policy which established universities and private colleges, was not surprising. Having seen the innovations of western civilization and an improved quality of life, their desire was to make these their own, on their terms. Education opened the eyes of Indians of the new class. This class became the epicenter of a national awakening. How can one who has read the literature of democracy, or individual rights and revolution not be affected by these concepts? Many made the best of these principles a part of their own philosophies. These educated people, who wrote of transforming Indian society, were a potent force in Indian nationalism. Two men, Henry Derozio and Ram Mohun Roy, wrote of social and political change from two differ t perspectives. Derozio wrote of patriotism, Roy searched Hindu teachings, looking for consistencies, points of harmony, between them and western culture. Each man had his followers, but failed to win popular support.
The period from 1860-1890s was a time of relative civil peace in India. Six of these years are associated with the policies of the liberal government of Gladstone. Self-government for Indians was once more on the minds of officials in London. Gladstone wrote, “ . . . it would be our weakness and our calamity that we will have not been able to give India the blessings and benefits of free institutions.” In 1880 Gladstone appointed Lord Ripon as Viceroy. In four years Ripon managed to introduce a system of local self government for town and country, and establish more schools. Ripon, revered by many Indians, suffered a great setback when the Europeans, angered by the passage of the Ilbert Bill, demanded that it not be enforced. This bill enabled Indian judges to rise to higher levels and made it possible for them to hear trials of Europeans. Ripon compromised, and as with all compromises, neither side gets what it wants , both sides are disgruntled.
The Indian reaction to this was the first meeting of the Indian National Congress, December, 1885. Though this body was comprised of only seventy delegates, the Congress would become the platform from which the political opinions of the new class would be spoken. As the Congress grew so did the number of differing points of view within it. True to India’s affinity to paradox, two men whose ideas were at extreme ends of the spectrum, emerged as leaders of the main tendencies of the Congress. They were Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Gokhale admired the West and sought conciliation between it and his culture. Tilak, a man whose pride and nationalist spirit grew from India’s past, advocated a complete break between India and Britain. Their groups of followers, however, would find enough common ground from which to work for the greater goal. By 1900 the broad issues were:
the increase of Indian representation on councils,With the arrival of Lord Curzon as the new Viceroy in the last years of the 19th century and the first of the 20th century came a renewal of British spirit to bring genuine improvement to the human condition in India. Lord Curzon believed in Britiain’s Divine destiny to lift India out of the poor conditions in which it existed. Curzon was a man who looked toward the future, and the future he saw for India was a bright one, but only with the guidance of Britain. Though his intentions were beneficent, they were not appropriate for the stage of political development now achieved by India. Curzon had a great respect for the culture of India, as evidenced by his projects to construct museums and monuments and the restoration of Indian antiquities.
the principle of free elections,
Indianization of the higher services, and
redress of economic policies which are injurious to native industry.
The new educated class of Indians was beyond acceptance of this paternalistic attitude. What they sought was, at least, self government, and, at best, independence. Curzon had contempt for these people. His view was that this English knowing class was educated by western culture, given a political vocabulary with which to criticize British rule, yet managed not one bit to improve the lot of the masses.
An important challenge was made to Curzon by the President of the Congress, Romash Chandra Dutt. He charged that British land policies were responsible for the famine in India. Curzon welcomed the opportunity to rebutt this charge and defend British policies. Curzon had a greater interest in mustering public opinion at home than he was in satisfying his detractors in India. The resulting document was a remarkable reply, in which Curzon was able to refute the charges made against him (Papers Regarding The Land Revenue System of British India, 1902).
The winds of change were all about in India and at Home. Self determination would come to haunt Curzon in England and India. The working class in Britain was demanding a greater voice in government, sweeping into office its liberal government in 1906. The new Secretary of State, John Morley, and Viceroy Gilbert John Minto collaborated to win back the loyalty of the political classes in India through new policies, the Morley-Minto Reforms.
Generally, these reforms provided for greater consultation with Indians and improvements in electoral practices. These reforms provided an appearance of greater Indian participation within certain parameters. The Bengal province was reunited and the city of Delhi became the new capital under these reforms. The nationalists, at least the moderate strain,were for the time being, satisfied.
The outbreak of World War I resulted in a moratorium of nationalist agitation. Indeed, a pro-British attitude existed among Indians, as evidenced by the more than one million Indians who enlisted in the army. This was due to the belief that if they were to enthusiastically support British efforts in the war, a war which was to make the world safe for democratic institutions, there must surely be a stake in it for Indians. It is important to note that British troops were at their lowest levels at this time. As the war dragged on nationalist spirit surfaced once again. The war with Turkey aroused Muslim spirit, resulting in Tilak’s success in convincing the Muslim League to join the Congress.
This united front caused concern in the Home Government. Their troops in India, too few to bring about a military solution to the revived nationalist feelings, necessitated a political course of action. In December, 1916 under the liberal government of Prime Minister Lloyd George and Secretary of State Sir Edwin Montagu, Indians were promised a wider role in government. On August 20, 1917 Montagu declared in the House of Commons, “ . . . the policy of His Majesty’s government is that of increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self governing institutions, with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire . . . that substantial steps should be taken as soon as possible.”
Montagu arrived in India in late 1917. His Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms was the first time that official policy displayed the faith that Indians could very well govern themselves. Broad changes in legislative councils and the electorate were brought about through the Montagu-Chelsford reforms. The British still remained in control, indeed, that control was exercised with the same character as that of a police state. At Home it appeared as if progress was being made toward the lofty ideals of Montagu’s report. In fact, British officials in Delhi were busy repressing the people.
Riots broke out in 1919 in Punjab. A crowd was protesting the arrest of two nationalist leaders. The protest was quickly broken up and all assemblies were declared illegal. A few days later, on April 13, a large gathering assembled at Jallianwalla Bagh, an enclosed square. General Dyer, hearing of the gathering, went there with ninety soldiers to disperse the crowd. Guns were leveled on the gathering and the order to fire was given, resulting in the death of nearly 400 and the wounding of more than 1,000 Indians. The very next day a mob was bombed and machine gunned from the air. Martial law was declared on April 15 and remained in force until June 9. The Hunter Commission was assembled to investigate these disturbances. General Dyer was mildly reprimanded and relieved of command.
The emergence of a great figure in Indian history began during this period. He was Mohandis K. Gandhi. Until now Gandhi supported cooperation with the British. He reversed this philosophy, calling for a campaign of non-cooperation with anything British. He stated, “ . . . cooperation in any shape or form with this satanic government is sinful.” Gandhi controlled the majority in the Congress by August, 1919, and began the “non-cooperation movement.” Indians resigned form civil service jobs, schools and colleges. The Muslims and Hindus managed a tenuous unity during this period. Lord Reading, Chelmsford’s successor, knew this unity was shaky and waited for the honeymoon to come to an end. It did in late 1921, but not without the realization by Indians of two important factors in the rise of Indian nationalism:.
- 1. Congress was a significant force, backed by popular support,
- 2. Indians became confident about their political leverage.
The first point to convey to students is that the short story is not some alien gift to mankind. Short stories happen to everyone, on a daily basis, in a variety of places and circumstances.
Some people are very good at telling stories, others are good at writing stories. (you may want to share a few in class)
Stories usually have a beginning and an ending (they exist in time).
There are many ways to tell stories, e.g. written, orally, chronologically, out of sequence.
Stories involve characters and events.
There are six major aspects of the short story; plot, character, point of view, tone, setting and theme. We will explore each of these in isolation and in the context of The Man Who Would Be King.
PLOT Plot is defined as a series of interrelated events that make up the story. The writer is careful to choose only those details that are essential to the story. How those details are arranged is an important aspect of plot. Why would a writer tell a story in an out of sequence arrangement, as opposed to the way the events really happened, chronologically? Plot also involves the essential ingredient to give substance to these events, conflict. So, plot is a series of connected events, within which a problem is solved, or apparently solved.There are a number of ways that teacher may choose to teach these elements. Also, which of these elements to teach to students is teacher’s choice. What follows is a sample lesson utilizing The Man Who Would Be King. For further ideas on teaching these elements see curriculum units written by teachers in the Twentieth Century Short Story seminar, or Boynton and Mack’s book.
Plot in the short story is consistent with the above definition with one especially important facet, the use of words must be efficient. The writer chooses his/her words carefully, adding only those details that are essential. As someone once said, “if a gun is mentioned in the story, one could be reasonably sure that it will be used by the end of it.”
CHARACTER People are the focus of stories. The characters must be credible. The reader must believe that the characters’ actions are reasonable and consistent. In the short story the writer selects those details about the characters that are essential to their development and the development of the story. Usually one central character is the focus.
There are several ways through which can learn about a character:
1. What a character does
2. What a character says
3. What a character thinks
4. How other characters interact with him/her
5. The author’s direct description of the character
POINT OF VIEW How the author chooses to tell the story is as
important to it as the details that are chosen. There are two
major ways by which the author may tell the story, from the person
outside the story and through a character within it. In the first
approach the author either goes into the thoughts and actions of
a character or just describe the character’s behavior. In the
second approach the author assumes the role of the major or minor
character. The story is told in the first person. The author is
the observer of events and teller of the story.
TONE Suffice that eighth graders merely learn that tone is basically the attitude of the speaker. Students could relate to the old saying,”it’s not so much what he said, it’s HOW he said it!” A book by Boynton and Mack, Introduction to the Short Story, illustrate the subtle aspects of tone very well (pp 51-57). I don’t feel that too much time should be spent on this particular element.
SETTING All stories take place in time and space. They exist in a believable environment. The images created by the description of the setting are as important to the story as the characters that act within it.
THEME A writer doesn’t happen to sit down to write a story without having something for the reader to discover about the human condition. The characters that the author develops and the events which occur all intertwine to present an author’s commentary.
Preparation for first reading:
Locate the following on a map of the world; India’ Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, England.
Point out the vast distances between India and England
Ask students if they could in any way connect England and India at some point in history. Some may be able to refer to India once being a colony of the British Empire.
Cite the following definition of imperialism: the policy of extending and increasing a nation’s power and authority by acquiring territories or by establishing political and economic dominance over other nations.
Discuss this definition. Apply it to India/England. If more background is desired with regards to how this imperial relationship began, refer to Spear’s book, History of India, Vol. 2, pp. 61-69.
Read aloud with entire class, choosing different students to read, stopping as often as necessary to interpret and describe events. Set a pace that is appropriate for the students. Take as many class sessions as needed. Readings for homework are recommended, also. During this first reading have students to underline in red all references to time. Noting the time changes is important because it moves in the plot of the story. The narrative on this story ought to be helpful as an aid, as well as the books cited in the bibliography.
Who is the narrator? Kipling is obviously the journalist in the story. Why did Kipling choose to tell the story from this perspective? Is it because that he had experience as a journalist; therefore, his writing will be real and believable? Is it possible that he chose this point of view because the role of journalist connotes particular attributes, e.g. sharp observation skills?
Is the narrator a minor or major character?
How does the narrator help the story along? Does he ask the right questions of Peachey to help the reader?
It is important to keep discussion going in class, encouraging students to express their thoughts on these and other questions. Encouragement could best be accomplished by emphasizing that there are no comments which are wrong, only that some are better explanations of events in the story.
Further study and lessons on other elements of the short story are recommended. It is apparent that lessons on character, setting and theme would make for some interesting discussion. There are several points at which this story and the history come together. I am sure that the teacher will find himself/herself referring back and forth through the course of this unit, e.g.
p. 26 Peachey says to Dan, “ . . . this business is our Fifty-Seven.” He says this to him after the discovery by the priests that they are not gods. This is an obvious reference to the Mutiny of 1857, a subject covered in the history narrative.
pp. 21-22 Dravot refers to the color of the natives skin. As they moved from conquest to conquest their skin color was lighter. Dravot declared, “ . . . they’re English.” Dravot had many delusions of grandeur throughout the story. He declared them Emperors, much like an Emperor of more than two thousand years before, Alexander. Alexander’s conquests in this area of the world could be an explanation for the skin color. (Refer to a map which depicts the conquests of the armies of Alexander, c 330 B.C.)
Who benefits from imperialism? Make a chart to which students contribute their ideas on this question. Seek to identify advantages and disadvantages from the point of view of the dominating and the dominated people. (Develop a vocabulary list for students to learn)
Obtain copies of George Orwell’s short story, Shooting An Elephant. After students have developed the chart described above this five page story will be food for further thought.
Who is the narrator?Can the captor become the captive?
Why does he dislike his job?
What is his job? nationality?
Where is he? What does he think of the indigent?
Why do the natives laugh at him and others like him?
What does the narrator tell us in the following?
“Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the native crowd—seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only a puppet pushed to and fro by the will of these yellow faces behind . . . when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys.”
Brief history of British involvement in India (see Spear’s book, pp 61-69, pp 81-105)
The Indian Mutiny 1857 (see narrative and Spear’s book, pp 141-145)
India 1857-1921 (see narrative and Spear’s book, pp 158-193)
There are many ways to teach the topics mentioned above, which is the reason for providing an outline of the course and readings. There are also many more ways than those mentioned where the two disciplines come together and reinforce one another. Further, there are many opportunities for the teacher to use the material for improving student writing. Through their study of excellent writing, I hope that their own writing will be improved.
As a culminating activity have the students view the movie version
“The Man Who Would Be King”. It would be interesting to have them
compare their impression of the movies version as opposed to the written.
Gilbert, Elliot L., The Good Kipling, Oberlin Ohio, Ohio University Press, 1979, 216 p. Kipling is recognized by many as being one of the most important authors of English blood who understood India. Further, much of what the “civilized” world knew about this far away land was through this master. The author looks at several pieces of Kipling’s works, including the short story that is the focus of this unit. Especially helpful if the teacher chooses to use other works by Kipling.
Spear, Percival, History of India, Vol. 2, New York, N.Y., Penguin Books, 1965, 298 p. Available in paperback, this book is a valuable resource for the teacher who teaches this unit. This book is not recommended for students to read, however, particular portions are appropriate if read to the class. The reading is easy, particularly if one has some background on the subject.
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