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The Players of the Great Game, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1026

Essay

In Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim” there are many players that are all involved in what has been termed the “Great Game.”  This “Great Game” involves spies from all kinds of backgrounds in order to maneuver their specific country or military group into place for a key strike.  Many documents are transferred between fellow spies, and we quickly see that the goal of the “Great Game” is to thwart the efforts of enemy spies to deliver their documents safely to one another.  All of this is a subsidiary of a pending war at the northern border between the English that rule over India, and the French and Russian forces that have allied together to take control of the region.

It is through this historical setting that we find four characters that play the “Great Game” as spies or the spies’ trainers throughout the story.  Kipling poses two differing sects of people within the same alliance: the Sahibs, or whites, and the Indians that are native to the land.  It is important to analyze the cultural and behavioral differences of the main four players as they relate to the story and our understanding of the socio-cultural events that are described.  Colonel Creighton and Lurgan Sahib represent the white side of the “Great Game” and have much different behaviors and actions than that of their Indian counterparts, Mahbub Ali and Hurree Babu, also known as Hurree Chunder Mookerjeee in parts of the story.  The main difference between the players stems from their activity levels in the “Great Game” and the actual field work that is undertaken by the two sects.

First of all, Colonel Creighton is a British officer that appears early in the story when Kim delivers documents to him for Ali.  It becomes clear that he is the individual that oversees the activities and strategy of the chain men in the story that help work as the spies for the British in this “Great Game.”  Creighton is very inquisitive and it is implied that he is mostly skilled in strategy and cognitive thinking.  He very rarely gets his hands dirty in the field, but he still maintains a certain amount of danger and secret aura about him that shows that he is a major player in the game.  Creighton is responsible for making the big decisions and delivering orders to the chain men to execute what must be done in order to help advance the British within this conflict.  Ultimately, Creighton is the major decision-maker in putting Kim through school and then thrusting him into the chain men as a spy after his training is complete.

The other sahib character is Lurgan Sahib who is a direct player in the game as a chain man.  Although Kipling never describes Sahib as actually doing much field work, it can be assumed that his position as a trainer for the young Kim is actually his field work.  Lurgan also works as a jeweler and an antique dealer among his other skills that he has mastered such as hypnotism and the art of disguise.  He trains Kim in the best ways he can and uses his knowledge and multiple skill sets to help show him the benefits of keeping a secret identity and using misdirection as a spy.  Lurgan is viewed as a mentor to the chain men, and to Kim, as he helps educate them on the proper actions and behaviors of a spy.  When the training had reached its climax, Lurgan explains to Colonel Creighton that Kim was ready to become a member of the chain men and a player in the “Great Game.”

Meanwhile, Mahbub Ali and Hurree Babu comprise the main two players of the Indians as major players in the “Great Game.”  Ali is well-known throughout India as a famous horse trader.  He is a devout Muslim that has the odd characteristics of a red beard and a quick temper that gets him into trouble a few times throughout the story.  Babu is a chain man that excels in his work as a spy through his masterful use of disguises.  Both of these Indian characters directly use their skills as spies to transfer documents to the decision-makers of the “Great Game” and to take further orders.  Babu and Ali help provide mentorship to Kim throughout the story as he trains to become a chain man, and also work with him after he has become initiated into as a member of the Sons of Charm.

These two characters show that the Sahibs, or whites, are mainly players on the outside that are skilled in training, strategy and decision-making.  They leave most of the hard work to the Indians and let them risk their lives as they encounter other spies and major events throughout fulfilling their tasks.  This is the most important difference between the two types of players.  It can be assumed that most of the work is performed by the Indians because they know the land and the culture much better than the Sahibs and are able to merge with the various Indian cultures better than a white man would.  Still, both sects of characters within the “Great Game” have a very clear loyalty to their cause and fully believe that what they are doing is right.  Although the reader can see a clear difference in the behaviors and positions of the Sahibs and the Indians in the game, this is never directly stated by any of the characters throughout the story.  Furthermore, this difference between the positions of the two sects is never implied that it is because Sahibs are superior over Indians.  In fact, as Kipling points out, Ali and Babu are very intelligent individuals and are able to think quickly to evade many dangerous situations.  Babu also specializes in researching different cultures and languages throughout India that can prove to be very beneficial for his work as a chain man.  These two sects work hand-in-hand to achieve the man goals of the chain men and work together to play in the “Great Game.”  Although their roles are very different, the Sahibs and Indians must work together to achieve their ultimate goals.

References

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. London: Penguin Books, 1989. Print.

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