Angry, stupid Sahib

Although Kipling supported British Rule in India, his portrayal of sahibs is not always positive.

This is first obvious when Kim is caught by the regiment, and ridicules them to the lama. He says of Father Victor and Bennet:

They will not hurt you. Come to the fat priest's tent with this thin man and see the end. It is all new, and they cannot talk Hindi. They are only uncurried donkeys.'"

He continues:

'Holy One, the thin fool who looks like a camel says that I am the son of a Sahib.'


The fat fool is of one mind and the camel-like one of another.

Teshoo Lama on learning Kim will go to school:

They will make a Sahib of my disciple? Woe to me!

Kim on Creighton Sahib:

Mahbub Ali says he is madder than most other Sahibs.'

Kim on the baggage Sahibs have to take with them wherever they go:

'Sahibs get little pleasure of travel,' he reflected.

Kim's driver:

Young Sahibs—all devils.

Mahbub Ali on constraining Kim in school when he could be learning on the road:

The folly of the Sahibs has neither top nor bottom

Teshoo Lama on his Wheel of Life:

The Sahibs have not all this world's wisdom.

Kim, on the policemen who board the train looking for E23:

'What fools are these Police Sahibs!' said Kim genially.

Kim, just before he realises the policeman is an operative:

Kim slipped out behind him; for it flashed through his head that he had heard this angry, stupid Sahib discoursing loud personalities to an old lady near Umballa three years ago.

Of course, the foolishness, the angry stupidity, is all the ruse of, as Mahbub Ali would put it, one of Us.

The Woman of Shelagh on sahibs:

Sahibs cannot distinguish one hillman from another.

These are all examples of what people say. But Kim's dislike of European clothes and food and dicipline seem to come from more than just irritation at something alien. His dislike of the food is defined more by his relish of Indian food, of clothes as much by the freedom Indian clothes provide over European clothes. The freedom Kim has when he is away from St Xavier's is also the freedom of India. Despite the numerous negative stereotypes of Indians, the sahibs can seem grey because of the vibrancy of India herself.