Kim Summary | Shmoop (2023)

Once upon a time (because at its heart, Kim is a fairy tale), there was an orphan boy named Kimball O'Hara, Kim for short. In fact, this isn't just any old fairy tale time: this book takes place specifically around the late 1890s in British India. (For more on this time period, check out the "In a Nutshell" and "Setting" sections.) Kim spends his time in the city of Lahore running around, scrounging food, and generally leading a carefree and mischief-heavy life.

But there is a prophecy surrounding Kim. No, not "neither can live while the other survives"— that's about a different orphan boy. Kim's prophecy comes down from his now-deceased father: Apparently, Kim's luck will change once he finds a Red Bull on a green field. And two men will appear first to prepare the way for the arrival of this Red Bull.

So one day Kim is playing in front of the Lahore Museum (which everyone in the book calls the Wonder House) and he spots someone wearing clothes of a style he's never seen before. This man is a lama, a Tibetan Buddhist from the North. The lama wants to speak to the curator of the Wonder House because he has heard that the curator is a wise man. He needs to talk to smart people, because he is looking for something extremely important to him: the River of the Arrow.

According to the lama, once during a test of strength the Buddha shot an arrow out far beyond his furthest target. Where the arrow landed, a River sprung up. If the lama can find that river and bathe in it, then he will be Enlightened. Kim is so interested by the lama—by his strangeness and his seriousness—that he volunteers to go along with him on his journey to find the River of the Arrow. The lama is glad to have a chela, a disciple, and the two make plans to go to the holy city of Benares (now Varanasi).

The night before Kim and the lama leave Lahore, they spend the night with Kim's old friend Mahbub Ali, a horse-trader. Mahbub Ali has an exciting side job in the British Indian Secret Service. He likes Kim because the kid is a dependable carrier of messages and because he is really good at disguises and hiding.

When he hears that Kim is going south, he thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get a little kid to do a dangerous job for him, so Mahbub Ali hands Kim a secret, coded message to bring to an Englishman in the city of Umballa (now called Ambala, right on the border of the Punjab and Haryana states) when he and the lama pass through. Kim is delighted to do it—he just loves trouble.

As Kim and the lama travel south by train and on foot, they bond, but Kim's mind is always on his little side-errand for Mahbub Ali. When they reach Umballa, he quietly leaves the lama behind while he goes to the compound of the Englishman to whom he is supposed to pass on his message.

Once he has given this Englishman his note confirming that there are five kings in northern India who are planning to break away from the British Indian government, he secretly sits and waits to hear what comes of it. When he sees the Englishman planning troop deployments to the North, he gets really excited. This is the life as far as Kim is concerned, delivering information that has real impact on state decisions.

Kim goes back to the lama and they continue their search for the lama's River of the Arrow. But as they are walking the Grand Trunk Road (an ancient highway that cuts north and south across India) they happen upon Kim's prophesied Red Bull.

They are standing in a field when they see two guys—advance scouts—looking for a place for their regiment to camp. Once they choose a place, they plant their regimental flag: it's a Red Bull on a green background. It turns out that Kim's father's prophecy was actually a description of the flag that belongs to his former regiment in the British Army, the Irish Mavericks.

Kim slips into the army camp and gets caught by an Anglican priest attached to the regiment. He and Father Victor, his Catholic colleague, both finally figure out that Kim is none other than Kimball O'Hara, Sr.'s son. They also speak to the lama about Kim. The lama is amazed that Kim is actually a British boy—since Kim speaks Urdu and has been traveling with him in Indian clothing, he doesn't seem English at all. But now that the lama knows that Kim is British, he wants Kim to have the best education that money can buy. So the lama offers to pay Kim's tuition to St. Xavier's, a great (fictional) school in Lucknow.

What a transformation: Kim goes from this smart, charming little wiseass kid (kind of like Lyra Belacqua in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series) to a reluctant British schoolboy in a matter of days. Kim hates his early days at the regimental school, and he writes to Mahbub Ali to please, please, please come rescue him. Mahbub Ali does come by, but he doesn't rescue him—instead, he does something much better: he recommends Kim to Colonel Creighton, the Englishman who received Mahbub Ali's message in Umballa.

Creighton keeps tabs on Kim when he moves south to start school at St. Xavier's in Lucknow. And he is impressed enough with Kim's sass, creativity, and resourcefulness that he arranges for Kim to spend time over summer break with a legend named Lurgan in the city of Simla. This man Lurgan teaches Super Special Spy Skills, like remembering where objects are (seriously, this is a vital spy skill), assessing people's character, and resisting hypnosis (Kim is a natural at this one).

Between Lurgan, his ongoing friendship with Mahbub Ali, and his more formal education at St. Xavier's, Kim grows up prepared to become what Creighton wants him to be: an agent in the British Indian Secret Service. Kim has a particular talent for getting people to talk to him and for hiding his identity as a British guy. These are (apparently) useful traits when you want to spy for the British colonial government of India. And at seventeen, Kim is ready to go back on the road the way he used to when he was a kid.

Creighton is a little reluctant to let a seventeen-year-old just wander around India on the government's dime, so he gives Kim a probation period: he wants Kim to travel for six months to remind himself what real life in India is like. And since Creighton doesn't want Kim to go alone, Mahbub Ali tells Kim to go back to his old friend the lama in the city of Benares.

Another employee of the Service, an Indian man the novel just calls the Babu (for more on this term, check out Chapter 2 in the "Detailed Summary" section) escorts Kim down to Benares. He gives Kim a silver amulet that will identify him as a member of the Secret Service to other members, and then sends him on his way.

Backtracking a bit, while Kim has been off learning how to make maps and do spy stuff, the lama has been traveling all over India. He has visited all of the holy sites of Buddhism in the country. But the more he has traveled, and the more wise men that he has spoken to, the more convinced he is that his real quest is for the River of the Arrow. And the lama believes that he won't be able to find this River without the help of his beloved disciple, Kim. So when Kim leaves school, the lama is thrilled to find him ready to rejoin the search for the River, and for Enlightenment.

Back in the present, Kim and the lama are planning to stay for a bit at the house of a woman they met during their first round of searching for the River of the Arrow: the Kulu woman. Kulu (or Kullu, really) is a region in the foothills of the Himalayas. Once they arrive there, they find a familiar face: the Babu, disguised as a hakim (a Muslim doctor).

The Babu quickly brings Kim up to speed about why he's here: the thing is, he has spotted two Russian agents (well, one of them is French, but they both represent the Russians) making friends with two of the five potentially rebel kings right on the northern borders between British India and Afghanistan.

(It's worth noting, by the way, that the countries that are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan were all under some degree of British control after the Second Afghan War in 1878, so the whole Indian subcontinent is supposed to be loyal to Britain during the setting of Kim.)

The Babu wants to steal any messages or papers these guys might be carrying, but (and here's the problem for the Babu) he doesn't want to do something so dangerous on his own. The Babu wants a lively young guy like Kim to come with him.

Together, Kim and the Babu convince the lama that his River is probably in the north, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The lama is glad to hear this suggestion, since (being from Tibet) he loves mountains and feels at home there.

They all travel north, Kim and the lama as pilgrims and the Babu in his hakim disguise. The Babu rushes on ahead and befriends these two Russian agents; he pretends to be a guide, and volunteers to bring them to Simla (the summer capital of British India). He also takes care to badmouth the British and praise Russia at every opportunity, which totally fools these two guys into thinking he is loyal to them.

But everything comes to a head when the two foreign agents, led by the Babu, bump into Kim and the lama on the road. The lama is showing Kim his illustration of the Great Wheel of Existence (for more on this, go and see our analysis in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section). The Russian guy likes the look of this drawing and tries to take it from the lama, actually hitting the lama in the face when he refuses to sell this piece of religious art for money.

When the people of the valley see this foreigner hitting a holy man, they immediately turn against these two Russian agents, and it's only thanks to the lama's request that the two men get away with their lives. But as the two men flee (along with the Babu, who is still pretending to guide them), they leave behind their baggage. When Kim searches it, he finds a locked box filled with letters and messages from the hill kings that speak of treason against the British Indian government. In other words, from the point of view of a Secret Service agent, Kim has found the jackpot.

In the aftermath of his Brush With Death, the lama has a crisis of faith. In the split second after the Russian guy hit him in the face, the lama wanted him to die. The lama gave into anger and a desire for vengeance—for a little while at least—so he is convinced that he has begun to wander from his religious path.

The lama and Kim travel south to the house of the Kulu woman. By the time they arrive, the lama is sick in the soul (thanks to his guilt over his brief flare-up of anger at the Russian agent) and Kim is sick in the body (because he's been lugging this locked box full of papers all over the Himalayas while trying to take care of the lama). Concerned over his health, the lama hands Kim over to the Kulu woman, who gives him a long massage and puts him to bed. Kim sleeps for thirty-six hours with his super-secret stolen papers under his bed—that's how tired he was.

When Kim wakes up he finds that big things have been happening: first, the Babu has arrived at the Kulu woman's house to find Kim. He guided the two agents all the way to Simla, while deliberately steering them away from closer European settlements, so that he could delay any action they might take over their lost luggage.

When the Babu left them, they actually wrote out a recommendation for him for future employment as a guide—that's how good his performance as a loyal employee and Russian sympathizer was. But now the Babu is ready to take over Kim's secret papers proving the betrayal of these northern kings. He will bring them to Creighton in the South, and Kim's first real secret mission as a grown-up is officially a total success.

The other thing that's happened while Kim has been sleeping is that the lama has had a vision. After two days of fasting, he saw himself flying high above the world and coming right to the edge of the Great Soul at the center of creation. But just as he was about to receive Enlightenment, a voice asked him what would happen to Kim if the lama died. Hearing this, the lama decides to go back to his body to bring wisdom back to his beloved disciple.

He comes out of his vision soaking wet, since he apparently walked into a nearby river in his trance… and this river must be none other than the River of the Arrow. So the lama has found his River at long last, and he is ready to show it to Kim to bring him wisdom. The lama has come to a spiritual understanding of his place in the world and of his grandfatherly relationship to young Kim.


What is the short summary of Kim? ›

Kim, novel by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1901. Kim, Kipling's final and most famous novel, chronicles the adventures of an Irish orphan in India who becomes the disciple of a Tibetan monk while learning espionage from the British secret service.

What is the main theme of Kim? ›

In this project the major focus is on the important themes highlighted by Kipling and . i.e. Loyalty and Racism. In the novel KIM, Loyalty is highlighted in the relationship of Lama, Mahbub Ali, Creighton, Lurgan, the Kulu women and the Babu with Kim.

What happened in Kim Chapter 8? ›

Kim spends the night among the servants pretending to a horseman employed by Mahbub Ali, and as he drifts off to sleep, he overhears two people planning to try and kill Mahbub Ali. Kim pretends to wake up with a loud nightmare. Everyone in the camp tells him to shut up, and he slips away.

What happened in Kim Chapter 14? ›

That night, the bearers promise to bring the Europeans' papers to Kim and the lama. As the lama goes to sleep, he admits to Kim that he continues to feel that he has failed—in that split second after the Russian hit him, the lama wanted revenge on him. So the lama knows that this dark world still has a grasp on him.

How does Kim improve her English? ›

Kim's teachers grade her on how much her English improves, and it does improve. During her shifts at the library, Kim tries to read as much as she can. Mr. Jamali begins to bring her old books and magazines to help her improve her English, and by the end of the year, Kim is doing well in every class but Social Studies.

How does the book Kim end? ›

One might speculate that on one level, throughout the novel as a whole, India itself has been his mother, with the backbone of British rule as his father. The novel ends at the point where, on the brink of adulthood and secure in his career with the Secret Service, Kim no longer needs parents.

What does the Zam Zammah symbolize in the novel Kim? ›

Though he was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother tongue in a clipped and uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazar; Kim was white.”13 Hence, Zam-Zammah symbolizes the dominance of Britain over India.

What is Kim based on? ›

"Kim" is a song by American rapper Eminem that appears on his 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP. The song reflects intense anger and hatred toward his then-wife Kim Mathers and features Eminem imitating her voice, and ends with him murdering her and later putting her body in the trunk of his car.

What is the great game in Kim? ›

His body of work includes the great novel Kim (1901), the story of an orphaned Anglo-Indian boy who is drawn into the Great Game—the geopolitical contest in the 19th century between Britain and Russia for the domination of Asia. For the British at least, this contest ultimately meant the control of India.

How does Kim sleep? ›

Kim Kardashian says she sleeps just 5 hours a night — though experts don't recommend it. Kim Kardashian says she gets up at 5:30am daily for a workout after just five hours of sleep. Some other highly successful people, like Martha Stewart and Jack Dorsey, get little shut-eye.

What happened in Chapter 8 of exit west? ›

Saeed finds a house with people from their country and begins to spend time there. Praying with them makes him feel like part of something large and human. An older man with a graying beard offers him tea. The man says Saeed and Nadia can move into the house, but they can't share a room.

What happened in chapter 14 of flush? ›

Noah and Abbey combined all their money and came up with fifty-seven dollars and sixteen cents which they would spend all on dye. They decided to buy fuchsia dye, perfect for Operation Royal Flush. They would buy food dye because it wouldn't be harmful to the animals.

What happens in chapter 14 beloved toni morrison? ›

Summary: Chapter 14

After Sethe takes Paul D upstairs, Beloved begs Denver to drive Paul D away, but Denver replies that Sethe will be angry at Beloved if Paul D leaves. One of Beloved's teeth falls out, and she wonders fearfully if her entire body will begin to fall apart.

How did Kim become successful? ›

Kardashian remained mostly unknown until early 2007, when a sex tape featuring her and her boyfriend, Ray J, leaked online. The attention helped the Kardashian family land a reality TV series.

What is the summary of girl in Translation? ›

A resolute yet naive Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died.

How did Kim Kardashian influence the world? ›

Kardashian's impact and influence are heavily-embedded in our popular culture today; from her iconic red carpet Hervé Legér dresses, to duck face selfies, to the endless sister banter on the now-iconic reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians that propelled the Kardashian-Jenner clan into stardom.

Do Reggie and Kim get back together? ›

Kim and NFL star Reggie dated from 2007 to 2009 before breaking up and later reuniting, but they eventually ended amicably.

Does Kim Possible have a storyline? ›

Kim Possible takes place primarily within the town of Middleton, USA and focuses on the life and adventures of Kim Possible, an accomplished high school student who fights crime on a regular basis, assisted by her best friend and sidekick Ron Stoppable and Rufus, his pet naked mole rat.

What happens to Kim and Porchay in the novel? ›

By the end of the latest book in the KinnPorsche series, readers learn that Kim and Porchay have a happy ending (or as happy as possible given the circumstances): Kim is chosen as the heir by his father, so that he can keep both Kinn and Porsche in line.

What is the history of Zamzama gun? ›

The Zamzama Gun, also known as Kim's Gun or Bhangianwala Toap is a large bore cannon. It was cast in 1761 in Lahore, now in Pakistan. Used in wars till 1818 AD and then placed in front of one door, named Dhali Gate, out of 12 Gates of walled city of Lahore.

Who is the character of Lama in Kim? ›

The lama is actually a wealthy man—he used to be the Abbot of Suchzen Lamassery when he was still living in Tibet—which means that he has the resources to send Kim to school. Meanwhile, Kim is "a poor white of the very poorest" (1.2). And the list of differences goes on: the lama is old and Kim is young.

What is Zamzama associated with? ›

"Zamzama" is now a joking term for a man with considerable sexual prowess in Afghanistan.

Is Kim Possible a real person? ›

Kimberly Ann Possible is a fictional character and the title protagonist of the animated Disney television series Kim Possible, voiced by actress Christy Carlson Romano.

Does Kim Possible have a secret identity? ›

Kimberly Ann "Kim" Possible is a high school student and freelance hero/vigilante. She is unusual in this in that she not only lacks a secret identity, but also remains on good terms with various law enforcement, government, and military agencies.

Why was Kim wearing gloves? ›

It's not a secret that Kim struggles with a skin condition called psoriasis. Psoriasis causes itchy, scaly, red-colored patches all over one's skin. Psoriasis flare-ups can last for weeks or months, becoming more prominent during stressful situations.

What is the Great Game summary? ›

"The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Afghanistan and neighboring territories in Central and South Asia.

What does Kims game teach? ›

This game is commonly played with young children, either preschool or in the first year or two of schooling (age 5 and 6) as it promotes the development of memory and observation skills and can be used for learning new groups of objects, such as shapes or fruits.

Did the Great Game ever end? ›

What traumatized Kim Kardashian? ›

Kim Kardashian and the emotional trauma of burglary

The experience of being physically restrained at gunpoint leaves behind emotional scars, and in some cases, a lifetime of paranoia and PTSD.

How does Kim maintain her body? ›

In any given workout, her trainer has Kardashian doing a mix of high-intensity exercises like ball slams, burpees, sprints, and ladder drills to get her heart rate up. "She's super responsible, she never cancels – she's the best client and athlete you can have," Alcantara shared.

What does Kim do to her hair? ›

In a new video with Allure, the mom of four said she relies on Olaplex products to prevent breakage and keep her blonde hair, which she debuted in May at the 2022 Met Gala, strong and shiny.

What happens in chapter 7 of Exit West? ›

Summary: Chapter 7. Saeed and Nadia emerge in an elaborate bedroom in a beautiful mansion. As they look out the window, they realize that they're on a city block filled with white houses and cherry trees. The house appears deserted.

What happened in chapter 5 of Exit West? ›

Summary: Chapter 5

Saeed sleeps on the floor in the sitting room. Saeed's father sleeps in his own bed, alone for the first time since he was married. The militants have taken over Saeed's neighborhood, and the bombing continues. The utilities in the neighborhood go out.

Does Exit West have a happy ending? ›

The ability to change, adapt, and look ahead allows people to overcome the sorrow of moving through different chapters in their lives. The novel ends with Saeed and Nadia each happy in their new lives, which signals the peace that can be found in change and letting go of old places.

What happened in chapter 16 of flush? ›

Chapter 16 Summary

Eventually, Abbey arrives, claiming that she had trouble starting the engine. After Noah climbs aboard, the engine dies again. As he desperately tries to restart it, the dinghy drifts back toward the dock of the Coral Queen, where Luno is waiting with a gun aimed at the kids.

What happens in chapter 11 of flush? ›

Chapter 11 Summary

Noah, Donna, and Paine get into the family car and go searching for Abbey at the Coral Queen dock. The guard shack light is on. When the three enter to investigate, they find Dusty inside. Donna attempts to make peace between Dusty and Paine.

What does Max promise at the end of Chapter 14? ›

Max promises him that he will keep Grim's secret and also that he will stay inside for the next few days.

Did Beloved get pregnant? ›

At one point, Beloved seduces Paul D. After learning that Sethe killed her daughter, he leaves. The situation at 124 Bluestone worsens, as Sethe loses her job and becomes completely fixated on Beloved, who is soon revealed to be pregnant.

Why is Beloved crying in chapter 14? ›

At Denver's urging, Beloved cries, knowing that her security slips away as Paul D and Sethe make love.

What happens in chapter 15 of Beloved? ›

Summary: Chapter 15

Baby Suggs decided to bake some pies, and before long the celebration had transformed into a feast for ninety people. The community celebrated long into the night but grew jealous and angry as the feast wore on: to them, the excess of the feast was a measure of Baby Suggs's unwarranted pride.

What is Kim in scouting? ›

Kim's Game is a game or exercise played by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, the military, and other groups, in which a selection of objects must be memorised. The game develops a person's capacity to observe and remember details.

Is Kim a good book? ›

“Kim is the story of a young boy who falls in with a Tibetan lama and joins in with the lama's search for his spiritual goal. I have always loved the book because of Kipling's wonderful writing. I think it is Kipling's greatest book. I also love it because the descriptions of India at that time are so vivid.

Is Kim a children's book? ›

Kim is a famous children's book. It is a novel by the Nobel Prize winning English writer, Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in 1901.

What happens in chapter 10 of Kim Rudyard Kipling? ›

Kim keeps going on adventures with Mahbub Ali when Mahbub Ali is near Lucknow, and spends Christmas break with Lurgan learning more about the religions of India and taking care of himself on the road. The next Christmas, Kim practices his mapmaking skills with Mahbub Ali in the city of Jeysalmir (now Jaisalmer).

What are the rules of Kims game? ›

Visual Memory Games

1. Kims Game – place objects, letters, pictures, words on a tray, show them to the pupil, cover them up and get them to name the objects. Alternatively you can remove one, two, three etc. The pupil has to guess what has been removed.

What are the 5 Scouting values? ›

Scouting takes place when young people, in partnership with adults, work together based on the values of Scouting and:
  • enjoy what they are doing and have fun.
  • take part in activities indoors and outdoors.
  • learn by doing.
  • share in spiritual reflection.
  • take responsibility and make choices.

Who is Kim in US Army? ›

Kim is commander of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army Col. Richard C. Kim, right, briefs Army Chief of Staff Gen.

How many times did Kim fail the test? ›

Kim Kardashian announced at the end of 2021 that she passed California's baby bar examination. However, before that, she failed California's baby bar exam three times. What is not often discussed, however, is that it is very common to fail the baby bar exam on the first (or second!) try.

Does Kim believe in God? ›

US celebrity Kim Kardashian has opened up about her faith in God and the way she shares this with her children. In a recent episode of the Angie Martinez IRL Podcast, Kardashian was asked if she prays. The 42-year-old said she mostly prays for "Health and happiness”.

What did Travis say about Kim in his book? ›

In the book, Travis refers to Kim as "f*king hot" and "eye candy" and talks about "secretly checking her out". "How could you not stare at Kim?" he said in a 2015 interview with Us Weekly.

Who is Kim in love with? ›

Kim Kardashian is getting more serious about her boyfriend Pete Davidson, now making official appearances with him on the red carpet, doing photoshoots, and even matching their hair color. But it's her sister, Khloé Kardashian, who is really getting public about Kim's feelings.

Is Kim Possible kid friendly? ›

Parents need to know that Kim is a good role model in that she's smart and independent, but her profession makes for a surprisingly violent cartoon. Some episodes involve family, but mostly Kim and Ron operate in their own dangerous world. Villains are as goofy as they are treacherous and probably won't scare kids.

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