Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling Summary

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  • 0:00 What Is…
  • 0:50 Rikki-Tikki- Meets Everyone
  • 1:36 Rikki-Tikki Saves Teddy
  • 2:05 Rikki-Tikki Against the Cobras
  • 3:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

When have you ever felt brave? ''Rikki-Tikki-Tavi'' is a short story about unlikely friendships, fierce battles, and the courage of a special mongoose. Read the following lesson for all the highlights of this unforgettable story!

What is ''Rikki-Tikki-Tavi'' All About?

Have you ever stood up for a friend? In ''Rikki-Tikki-Tavi'' by Rudyard Kipling, an unlikely friendship formed and one brave mongoose put his own safety at risk for the sake of others. A mongoose is a small rodent animal that looks like a weasel or a squirrel.

An Indian mongoose.

Set in British-colonized India, ''Rikki-Tikki-Tavi'' takes place in the 1800s in and around an open-air bungalow. The main characters of this story are:

  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a brave mongoose
  • A human family consisting of a mother, father, and a small boy named Teddy
  • Nag and Nagaina, husband and wife cobras
  • Darzee and his wife, two tailorbirds

Mongooses and cobras are natural enemies. In India, families often let mongooses live with them because they killed cobras. This short story is a showdown between Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the cobras.

Rikki-Tikki Meets Everyone

The story opens with the family stumbling upon Rikki-Tikki, injured on the family's property. The mother suggests that they bring Rikki-Tikki in the house and care for him. After he feels better and explores the house, Rikki-Tikki finds a comfortable spot, right on Teddy's pillow.

The mother expresses concern that Rikki-Tikki will bite Teddy, but the father interjected saying that Teddy would be safest with a mongoose around him. Mongooses are known to kill snakes, snakes that could enter the open-air house at any time.

The next day, Rikki-Tikki meets Darzee and his wife. The two birds are crying and tell Rikki-Tikki that Nag had eaten one of their babies the day before. Conveniently, Nag then slithers out of the grass to meet Rikki-Tikki, and so does Nagaina, who tries to attack Rikki-Tikki. He leaps out of the way, and then the snakes retreat.

Rikki-Tikki Saves Teddy

Afterwards, Rikki-Tikki walks toward the house, and Teddy runs to see him. What Teddy doesn't notice, however, is a tiny snake looking to strike. The family watches as Rikki-Tikki kills the dangerous snake that wanted to harm their boy.

The family celebrate and thank Rikki-Tikki for his bravery. They bring the mongoose home again, feed him, and allow Teddy to take him to bed. When Rikki-Tikki can't sleep, he goes out to venture, and he hears Nag and Nagaina's plans to kill the family; and then Nag slinks into the bathroom.

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