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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

KIM XV - chapter 9: PRESTO, CHANGE-O!

  1. Best chapter yet!  Do you disagree?  And leaning on the newly designated (by me, who is so slow on the uptake) episodic nature of the book, this story, chapter 9, is grand.  As always, I checked the number of pages in the chapter, marked down an approximate halfway point, and began reading to it to determine a good stop-point for the day.  I read right past it.  Magic, right?  And why not?  Aside from the o-so-typical designation of, shall we say, "kinetic" writing to magically carry away the reader, this chapter's theme is Magic.  Aside from the obvious magic performed by Mr. Lurgan, what other such feats are there?
  2. I'm intrigued, greatly, by Mr. Lurgan:  "'Was that more magic?' Kim asked suspiciously. The tingle had gone from his veins; he felt unusually wide awake. // 'No, that was not magic. It was only to see if there was—a flaw in a jewel. Sometimes very fine jewels will fly all to pieces if a man holds them in his hand, and knows the proper way. That is why one must be careful before one sets them. Tell me, did you see the shape of the pot?' // 'For a little time. It began to grow like a flower from the ground.' // 'And then what did you do? I mean, how did you think?' // 'Oah! I knew it was broken, and so, I think, that was what I thought—and it was broken.' // 'Hm! Has any one ever done that same sort of magic to you before?' // 'If it was,' said Kim, 'do you think I should let it again? I should run away.' // 'And now you are not afraid—eh?' // 'Not now.' // Lurgan Sahib looked at him more closely than ever. 'I shall ask Mahbub Ali—not now, but some day later,' he muttered. 'I am pleased with you—yes; and I am pleased with you—no. You are the first that ever saved himself. I wish I knew what it was that . . . But you are right. You should not tell that—not even to me.'"  What is going on in the final bolded statements here?
  3. This chapter is freaking loaded with potential metaphors and parallels.  What about the memory game?  Take a look at just as it is: a memory recall challenge.  Extend that to the circumstances around the challenge and the motives (regarding the Hindu boy, as well as regarding Kim's potential for the future) of Mr. Lurgan to initiate it.
  4. And what about this Hindu boy?  He attempts the killing of his master with "white arsenic," and the Sahib doesn't even bat an eye!
  5. This chapter is confusing and fully intriguing and huge.  What overall impressions did you gain from it?
  6. The Lama's dream that he will only find the River of the Arrow with the help of his chela, Kim combines perfectly with the Tale of the Fettered Elephant.  Thoughts?
  7. I felt pretty sure the 81 beads of the Lama's rosary would come back.  What do you make of the convergence of its usages of prayer mnemonic and abacus?
  8. "Colonel Sahib, only once in a thousand years is a horse born so well fitted for the game as this our colt. And we need men."


  1. 1. No, you're right. It's the best chapter yet. The real "magic" is the interesting characters. FINALLY!
    2. I am beginning to get the feeling that the final twist in this story is that the self-confident, manipulative Kim is falling into a trap.
    3. I'm not sure that Kim has that much to remember. As we discussed earlier, he's not a very introspective character. Maybe he is creating a self-identity as we go along.
    4. Again, get the feeling that the people there are being used/trained for something sinister.
    5. The impression that I get is that Kim's not completely in control anymore, but maybe I'm pushing this thought too far.
    6. Arg, I had to speed-read through the elephant parable before I had to run an errand. What are your thoughts on it?
    7. I guess it's the only possession that the lama has, so it makes sense that he would make the most of it.
    8. And that's the key to my interpretation of this chapter so far. But we'll see. You're right, though. This chapter was a big step in the right direction for the book so far. I think that the last couple have been a bit better, actually. Kipling has all his storylines out there at this point. Now it remains to be seen whether he can weave these together into a mind-blowing finish.

  2. 1. I agree. I read before while learning about the book what he becomes, but I'm surprised at how he's getting there (I don't know if you've read the same stuff, so I don't want to spoil it). It indeed feels like a trick/trap.
    3. And he's not good at the memory games at all. This isn't a surprise, of course, but neither is his particularly high aptitude for doing disguises and impersonations. Also, he doesn't seem to notice that Mr. Lurgan has a definite agenda, even a curriculum, that he's following.
    4. And the Hindu boy happens to be at the stage of his education that deals with handling poisons....
    5. Which leaves me wondering, why is he sticking with it? Sure he absconds during school breaks, but he goes back. It seems the intrigue and encouragement from Lurgan helps a great deal.
    6. It's a parallel: Lama=trapped elephant, Kim=younger free elephant. The Lama has to reach his state of Great Happiness (I don't remember the Hindu term) before he can be freed by the child, who, as it happens, turns out to be a god. This clearly speaks of the coming reunion of these two characters, which I eagerly anticipate. And it must happen, otherwise why bring up the whole River of the Arrow and even the Lama at all.
    7. The book mentions Kim's preparation as a chain-man, which is one who will, using a chain measuring device, assist in the mapping of India. Somewhere along the line, it mentions that a chain of 81 or 108 (I think 108) links are preferable for their many possible divisors. The Lama's rosary also has 81 beads--or cardamom pods, I think. This is too parallel to be coincidental. As the chain is used to measure and map a chain-man's path across the continent, so, I guess, a rosary maps a man's path and progress over life?
    8. This chapter, especially with its gloss over the rest of Kim's formal education at St. Xavier's, bears a strong resemblance to an axle-point, like the next chapter might be PART III (or II or IV, depending on how you divide it). Finally, I'm excited to read the next chapter.


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