Kims red bull

Rural India

In Rudyard Kipling's Kim, Kim himself is told by his father that a red bull on a green field will arrive alongside a Colonel. The man of high station will attend to Kim and raise him out of the dust into which Kimball, the father, has dragged his son with his love of opium. His hazy speech has it's truth further mangled in its retelling by the peasant woman who looks after Kim.

Kim grows and travels with a lama, on a pilgrimage, and tells him of the Red Bull and the green field and the Colonel. Kim has aspirations, and he is cheeky and when they meet a priest he re-tells the story, but as a prophecy. The priest casts a horoscope and says Kim's sign is war. Kim encourages this, perhaps because he knows a secret that he heard from a sahib in a villa: that war is in fact coming. Not only this, one of the documents Kim was delivering to the sahib from a horse-trader in Lahore was intelligence that instigated the war. Kim also carries his birth certificate, the only proof that he is not a Hindu, but an Irishman, a sahib himself. The document that his father told him would raise him out of the dust.

So Kim's sign is war, and the Red Bull on a green field will and does come to him. But he knows he is embellishing, and making up stories to those he meets. They know him as Friend of all the World, and christen him against as Friend of all the Stars, essentially because Kim is convincing. We know Kim is embellishing and boasting, but when the time comes and he sees his father's old regiment with their bull and field banner, he insists it is his prophecy. But what does he really believe?

Does he play along with his propehcy because he is curious and thinks he can gain from it? We know he likes to gain. Does he play along with his prophecy because he believes in it? Probably not, because he says several times that the he thinks the lama mad. Does he play along with the prophecy because he sees something of his birthright in the clearing before him, in the sahibs pitching camp? Possibly, but we haven't yet had any indication that he craves this, other than that he clasps the folder containing his birth-certificate to his chest. In fact, we have had numerous indications that he loves India, that he loves the land and the bustle and the people, that he loves the game of life that is to be lived there.

So what does Kim really believe about his birth-right? About the red bull and the green field and the Colonel. I don't yet know.