A Representation of British Gendered Imperial Politics in Fiction for Children: Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

A Representation of British Gendered Imperial Politics in Fiction for Children: Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

Nilay Erdem Ayyıldız (Fırat University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9444-4.ch003

Abstract

The chapter explores the gendered imperial politics in short fiction for children through analyzing “The Mowgli Stories” and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” selected from nineteenth-century colonialist author Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894). The reason for the selection of the stories is that they have not attracted the interest they deserve as products and perpetuators of the gendered imperial ideology. The chapter asserts that they both reflect the British concerns about the future potential Indian rebellions after the Mutiny of 1857 and applaud the faithful colonizing Indians' struggle against the rebellious ones through masculinist power of body and language. The stories narrate the masculinized bodily actions of the double outsider animalized characters involved in violence after the rebellion of one of them in colonial India. Thus, the chapter indicates the author's response to the mutiny through the techniques empowering masculinized imperialism in allegorical fiction for children.
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Children’S Literature In The Victorian Imperial Service

As Zornado (2002) notes, people “inadvertently reproduce the dominant culture as a result of the lived relations determined by the structure imposed on them (p. 4). In this context, the relationship between the adult and the child seems to be prerequisite for a sustainable ideology in society. As children are regarded as perpetuators of the adult’s ideology, they have always been main concerns of adults throughout centuries. Children’s literature, encompassing books either appealing to child readers or including child characters, has an undeniable role in cultural reproduction between adults and child readers. Children’s books are adult authors’ products through which they convey their attitudes and beliefs, even ideologies to children (Grenby, 2008, p. 199, Rockwell, 1974, p. 4). Ideology is an “inevitable, untameable and largely uncontrollable” factor in children’s books because writers cannot conceal their ideologies even in children’s texts just as in the texts intended for adults (Hollindale, 1992, pp. 27-30) and demonstrate them to a certain extent in their works, either explicitly or implicitly. In this regard, narratives may be taken as pathways to the construction of ideologies which take shape within language through discourses. With the help of discourses while developing a plot, creating characters, ideologies operate throughout a children’s book, too. Accordingly, the representation of ideologies conveyed through children’s literature has been influenced by the politics leading the life in each period of time. As to the Victorian era interrogated in the study, the chapter claims that it was masculinized imperialist ideology shaped children’s literature of the period substantially.

Key Terms in this Chapter

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”: One of the short stories in Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

“The Mowgli Stories”: A collection of three related stories entitled “Mowgli’s Brothers,” “Kaa’s Hunting,” “Tiger! Tiger!” in Kipling’s The Jungle Book .

Children’s Literature: A genre covering various works, written exclusively for children.

Nineteenth-Century British Imperial Politics: The process of exercising British imperialism in the nineteenth century.

Imperialist Ideology: A collection of ideas supporting imperial activities.

Colonialist Author: An author who justifies and perpetuates colonialism in his/her texts.

Colonial Discourse: A system of constructed knowledge and beliefs about all items related to colonialism.

Gendered Imperialism: The belief that men and women have separate roles in the imperial mission.

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