eBookOnce again, I'm struck by the savagery that resonates throughout Kipling's writing. It would be so easy to think of The Jungle Book in a more Disney-fied light: talking animals, singing, the rhythmic cadences of a fairy tale or lullaby. But overarching all that is the ever-present reminder that the world of the jungle is a world of nature, red in tooth and claw. Mowgli is raised by wolves and instructed by Baloo for the explicit purpose of survival in a harsh world that actively seeks his death. Kotick is born and raised amidst bloodshed from two distinct sources: other seals and man. "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" subverts the traditional story of a pet protecting his master by making the masters little more than incidental characters; Rikki-Tikki wants to protect them, but his actions are driven by instinct rather than any familial bond with the humans. Even in the less-obviously blood-drenched stories, violence is a powerful force. Toomai's journey to witness the dance of the elephants puts him at great risk of death.The story I found most interesting, however, was the one which closes the book, "Her Majesty's Servants." The characters of this particular story are the camp animals for an army, but paradoxically, these might be the most innocent characters in the whole book. All their conversation is about war and its methods, but without any real recognition of what it means. These animals have been tamed by man, stripped of their natural instincts, and so, with the exception of the elephant, they don't realize what war means, content merely to follow orders and limit their perspective to the specifics of their duties.And maybe that's the true lesson of The Jungle Book. Yes, it's violent, endlessly circling and returning to the themes of death and danger, but in the world of the animals, death and danger exists because they are necessary parts of life. Animals must eat, so animals must hunt and kill. But for people, violence is stripped of that which makes it necessary. Wars don't happen for food and survival; they happen for sport and profit.Or maybe I'm just a filthy hippie.