This book is all about The Law of the Jungle. The Law of the Jungle says the following:
"The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the Jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too - and it is true - that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth."
I re-read this book as part of the Emlyn Chand's Books that made me Love Reading Challenge. It is one of my childhood favorites. When I was young, I did not pay much attention to the Law of the Jungle. My feverish passion for this book stemmed from the names of the animals, the main characters of this book. How fascinating and exotic the names Mowgli, Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the Black Pather, Kaa the Rock Python, and Hathi the Wild Elephant seemed to me. Beyond the names, the story was so incredibly out of this world. A young boy left in the jungle and raised by wolves. He becomes one of them as if he was never a human to be begin with, and learns the ways and customs of the world in which he is raised, later to become almost indistinguishable from his counterpart life into which he was actually born in. As an adult, these aspects of the book still bring a tingle beneath my skin and jump-start my heart in pumping arrhythmically. Furthermore, having read this book later in life, it seems to have a much more elevated meaning to me, creating an image of The Jungle Book much more intricate than before.
I love this book so much more now. Much of this additional admiration for the book has much to with the theme of The Law of the Jungle. It represents the setting of all cultures and communities. Each have their own set of rules and laws by which all community members must abide by and follow. The Jungle Book opens kids and adults to the idea that often needs reminding, that we are linked and glued by bigger powers of the community. If we choose to overstep that, there are consequences, which Mowgli seems to experience later on in the story as well. Moreover, The Law of the Jungle also brings attention to the notion that we should not prey on the weak and defenseless, we only become less than we are if we do. And when we do prey on them, it should be for greater reason than selfishness.
This book also touches on the theme of human origin. Mowgli finds himself constantly having to examine his human origin, just as well as his animal origin. He seems to be an outcast, as though he doesn't belong in the Jungle, but he feels like he belongs there more than anywhere else. This is a strong theme. What seems to be an anomaly isn't always the case, but often is exactly as it should be, exactly where it belongs. Due to this discrepancy he is finally outcast-ed and betrayed by those he knows closest to him. He has to find his roots, his human origin, again, with the humans. He learns to know and practice the ways and customs of the humans just as he learned to do so in the Jungle. Finally, where are his 'human' origins? Well, a plot turn reveals something we should expect, but don't believe enough to know could be true.
Oh the evil Tiger. He wants the kingdom all to himself, and wants the man-cub for himself. He symbolizes only chaos, destruction, and evil. Just like all heroes, though, where all good prevails all evil, so does Mowgli.