The Hidden Agenda and Dichotomy of the East and West in Kim and A Passage to India

Author: Yousef Ahmad Hussein Rababa

Keywords: stereotypes, Rudyard Kipling, A Passage to India.


Ferdinand de Saussure had claimed that the way mankind comprehend language is through contrasts and differences, to which he called binary oppositions. For example, would not understand what is the nature of ‘good’ if there was no ‘evil’ (Lacey, 2000). Modern-day structuralists still believe that these binary are fundamental in shaping human philosophy, language and as well as culture. These differences, especially in terms of culture and beliefs, is what led to people, or in this case, colonial authors to develop stereotypes which are backed up by prejudices and biases of their own creation. By reading colonial works of literature, with India as its setting, we are able to see the hackneyed stereotypical European interpretation that Rudyard Kipling had in his novel Kim and E. M. Forster in his novel A Passage to India. Both authors simplify and abase India to merely an enigmatic land that is riddled with indolence and one that is in need of liberation from their lack of modern civilization. Through reading these two texts, there is clearly a certain attitude that is shared between the two novelists. Kipling and Forster both view Europe, as being the binary opposition to India. The two, as much as they claim or try not to, view India from a colonizer’s perspective and their depiction of India and its people are not authentic nor does it do justice for the people who call that land their own. This paper will identify the colonizer’s  attitude in Kim and A Passage to India from a binary opposition standpoint.  In addition to this, it will follow a deconstructionist analysis approach to understand the stereotypes that are present in the two selected novels.