‘Rikki Tikki Tavi’ Essay on Main Conflict

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Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" presents a vivid exploration of the main conflict that drives the narrative—the intense clash between instinctual survival and territorial dominance. This critical essay delves into the complexities of this conflict, examining the roles of characters, the implications for the story's themes, and the narrative's broader implications for human nature.

Thesis Statement

The main conflict in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" revolves around the battle of instincts—Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's innate survival drive versus the territorial dominance of the cobras Nag and Nagaina—underscoring the tension between primal instincts and the quest for territory.

Instinctual Survival

At the heart of the conflict lies the instinct for survival. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a courageous mongoose, embodies this primal force as he enters the garden and becomes part of the human family's life. His instinctual response to the cobras' presence is immediate—a reaction honed by generations of mongoose survival. This instinctual drive fuels his determination to protect his newfound territory and the human family from the cobras' malevolence.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's instinctual nature transcends rational thought. His courage, quick reflexes, and resourcefulness in the face of danger illustrate the raw power of survival instincts. Kipling emphasizes that in the world of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," instincts serve as guides, often truer and more reliable than conscious decisions.

Territorial Dominance and Conflict

Nag and Nagaina, the cobras, represent the territorial dominance that opposes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's instinctual survival. Their presence poses a direct threat to the mongoose's territory—the garden—and by extension, the human family. For the cobras, the garden represents their domain, a realm they are willing to defend at all costs.

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The tension escalates as Nag and Nagaina's territorial dominance clashes with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's instinctual urge to protect. Their cunning tactics, manipulation, and threats to the human family mirror the territorial conflicts that arise among humans. This conflict highlights the parallels between the animal kingdom's territorial struggles and the human experience.

Themes and Broader Implications

The main conflict intertwines with the story's themes, offering deeper insights into nature, survival, and the inherent tensions within the animal world. Through Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the cobras, Kipling addresses the balance between human intervention and the natural order. The mongoose's relationship with the human family reflects the potential harmony between man and nature, while the cobras highlight the dangers of disruption.

Furthermore, the main conflict resonates with broader implications for human nature. It raises questions about the inherent tension between instinctual drives and the pursuit of dominance in human interactions. The narrative prompts readers to reflect on the primal forces that shape their own actions and decisions, inviting contemplation of the complexities of human behavior and motivations.


In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," Rudyard Kipling crafts a story that centers around the entwined conflict of instincts and territoriality. The tension between Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's survival-driven instincts and Nag and Nagaina's territorial dominance propels the narrative forward, exploring the primal forces that dictate actions in both the animal kingdom and the human world.

Through this conflict, Kipling engages readers in a deeper understanding of instinctual survival and territorial struggles, shedding light on the innate forces that drive behavior. By inviting readers to ponder the tension between primal instincts and the quest for dominance, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" serves as a thought-provoking exploration of the intricacies of human nature and the animal kingdom.

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‘Rikki Tikki Tavi’ Essay on Main Conflict. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rikki-tikki-tavi-essay-on-main-conflict/
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‘Rikki Tikki Tavi’ Essay on Main Conflict. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rikki-tikki-tavi-essay-on-main-conflict/> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
‘Rikki Tikki Tavi’ Essay on Main Conflict [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Feb 29 [cited 2024 Apr 17]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rikki-tikki-tavi-essay-on-main-conflict/

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