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Discuss the Character and the Role of the Lama in the novel 'Kim'.

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Discuss the Character and the Role of the Lama in the novel 'Kim' There are many scant descriptions of the lama throughout the book, but there are no really solid descriptions of the lama that form an accurate picture in you mind. He is more of a well-depicted character than a well described character. His character is well depicted through his lines of speech and others, ' these old eyes', 'old man', etc, but even with the clues we get as to what he looks like through speech we still can only put together the fact that he is old and frail. While saying this though, we get a more accurate portrayal of the lama as the book draws to a close- the Russian said that the lama was 'an unclean old man haggling over a dirty piece of paper'. The fact that he was described as 'haggling' means that he was acting in common with that of a common beggar gives us the idea that he was dirty, unkempt and as the Russian said, unclean. The lama's character is essential to the plot, without the lama the plot would be lost and there would be no need for Kim to travel. The lama gave the plot substance, amid all the confusion of the 'Great Game' that Kim is involved in, we are all well aware of the lama's drive to find the 'River of the Arrow'. ...read more.


When the lama is upset at Kim's detachment from him, he is upset at the obvious- because Kim has left him, and secondly for letting himself get so close to a person that he actually feels remorse. He had committed a great sin by loving and losing Kim was his redemption, the lama tells us that he had sinned by loving Kim when he said 'The sin is mine and the punishment is mine'. After the initial guilt and remorse that the lama felt for feeling such strong emotions for Kim, the lama's guilt reaches it's pinnacle when the lama and Kim are in the mountains- the lama realises the pride he was feeling when he was striding ahead of Kim and the lust for killing he had, and this upset him. He thought that he was better than Kim was, and by doing this the lama committed a great sin. The lama felt that being void of emotion meant being void of sin, and the only way to purge himself of this sin was to find the River. He said 'it met evil in me-anger, rage, and a lust to return evil', basically stating that for the lama to even feel the slightest hint of anger was evil, and this evil was in him even before the Russian struck him. This sin, and that of the anger he felt towards the Russian, was thus only washed away at the very end of the novel when the lama found his River and recovered his own holiness. ...read more.


The lama's role as a Buddhist introduced us to the various aspects of Buddhism such as the Way, the Search and the Wheel of Life. It was therefore the role of the lama to also show us the various attitudes displayed towards Buddhism, and show up the social groups with little respect for religion, i.e. the Russian. If we analyse the book then it becomes apparent that, apart from the Muslims, the Europeans were the people with the least respect for the lama- and this was ultimately shown when the Russian assaulted him. The lama was a way for Kipling to show the respect people in India had for religion at the time. Kipling accurately depicted the way that religion influenced the way that various Indian cultures viewed each other, and the lack of respect people outside of India had for people who devoted their lives to being holy. The lama's character was one of intense simplicity and deep wisdom at the same time, a very peaceful man, wrought with inner conflict and marred by his own naivety. The lama's role was quite complicated, it was made up of four main parts: to propel the plot along, to introduce the theme of guilt to Kim and also to the book itself, to show us India from the inside out and to act as a substitute father to Kim. In summary, the lama was a quintessential part of the novel, equally important as Kim himself. Matt King Page 1 28/04/2007 ...read more.

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