Teach Rikki Tikki Tavi and the Elements of a Short Story

A sing-song like story with rich history, Rikki Tikki Tavi is a beloved book for most youth. The important elements of the short story (and the definitions of these elements) are provided below to assist with studying.

The Characters of Rikki Tikki Tavi: What the people in the story are like.

Rikki Tikki Tavi: The main character (also known as the protagonist) Rikki is a small but brave mongoose who defends his home and friends against their enemies.

Nag: Rikki’s enemy. Nag is one of the cobras Rikki must fight to keep the garden safe.

Nagaina: Rikki’s enemy. Nagaina is another cobra that Rikki must fight to keep the garden safe.

Teddy: The young boy in the story. Rikki saves his life.

Darzee: One of Rikki’s friends. Darzee is a tailorbird.He helps Rikki during the story.

Chuchundra: Another one of Rikki’s friends. He is a muskrat that helped Rikki by giving him advice during the ongoing battles with Nag and Nagaina.

Karait: A small snake that Rikki kills while defending Teddy.

Setting of Rikki Tikki Tavi: Where the story takes place.

Rikki Tikki Tavi takes place in a bungalow’s garden in Colonial India.

Theme of Rikki Tikki Tavi: The “big” idea or lesson from a piece of text. A story can have more than one theme.

One theme from Rikki Tikki Tavi would be courage. Rikki has to fight two cobras, Nag and Nagaina, to protect his garden and Teddy. He is frightened of them because they are stronger and bigger than he is, but he overcomes his fear and fights them anyway. His courageous behavior is rewarded when he fights the cobras, wins, and becomes a hero.

Point of View: Viewpoint from which a story is told.

Rikki Tikki Tavi is told in third person. A narrator is telling the reader what is happening in the story.

Conflict: This story is filled with external conflicts. Read this article for much more information about the conflict in Rikki Tikki Tavi.

Plot: The storyline; how the story takes place.

We meet Rikki in the garden of a bungalow. Rikki, a mongoose, befriends Teddy, a little boy who lives in the bungalow.We then meet Nag and Nagaina, King Cobras, and they make their first attempt on Rikki’s life.Soon after, Rikki defends Teddy from a snake named Karait and saves Teddy’s life.

That night, Rikki patrols Teddy’s home.He overhears Nag and Nagaina plotting to kill Teddy’s family so they can get to Rikki. He also learns that Nagaina has unhatched eggs hidden.

The next day, Rikki fights and kills Nag.He then destroys Nagaina’s eggs.With help from Darzee, he arrives just in time to save the family from Nagaina. After a fierce fight, Rikki emerges the winner of that fight, as well.

At the conclusion of the story, Rikki is recognized as a hero.

As you review Rikki Tikki Tavi and the elements of a short story, be sure to take the time to understand each element. Rudyard Kipling does a fantastic job with each. His characters are unique, the conflict builds suspense, and the plot keeps the readers thoroughly entertained.


  • Classroom experience.

This post is part of the series: Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling Series

This three-part series will help you teach the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling to your students.
  1. Understanding the Short Story Elements of Rikki Tikki Tavi
  2. Rikki Tikki Tavi Lesson Plan: Teaching Conflict
  3. Rikki Tikki Tavi Activities: Going Across the Curriculum