Teach Conflict with Rikki Tikki Tavi
What To Do
Start by discussing the types of conflict. In my classes, we talk about internal and external conflict.
Internal Conflict: Conflict that is internalized. (I would probably go a step beyond and explain that this type of conflict occurs inside someone’s head.)
External Conflict: Conflict that occurs between a person and anyone or anything. (I make the point here that external conflict does not always have to occur between two people. It could be Man V. Nature, Man V. Society, etc.)
Next, have students give examples from real life.
Example of an Internal Conflict:
Your mother has forbidden you from going to a party Friday night. However, you have figured out a way to go without her knowing. You feel guilty and a little scared you might get caught, so you argue with yourself and worry over whether or not to go. (This is an internal conflict because you are arguing/debating with yourself. You are not engaging with another person or thing.)
Example of an External Conflict:
You and your best friend get into an argument over a comment she left on Facebook that you thought was very rude.
After you think your students understand the basic types of conflict and you have completed pre-reading, assign them the story to read.
As they read, require that they take notes whenever they come across an example of conflict. Tell them even if they are not sure it is an example of conflict, if they think it might be, write it down. Over the years, some of my students’ most meaningful discussions have come from “wrong" answers.
3 Examples of Conflict in Rikki Tikki Tavi
At the very beginning when Rikki’s burrow floods and he is washed out of his home. (I think this is a good one to discuss because it’s not the type of conflict kids usually think about. But it is a conflict: Man Vs. Nature)
The great fight between Nag and Rikki, which ended in Nag’s death.
The fight between Nagaina and Rikki at the end of the story.
There are more examples of conflict. See if your students can find them all.
Application To Real Life:
I always like to apply lessons in my classroom to the real world, if possible. Rikki Tikki Tavi lends itself perfectly to this. It is a great story to use to help discuss bullying and what role conflict plays in it.
Some examples of questions to start discussion.
Talk about Nag, Nagaina, and Rikki.
Who exhibited bullying behaviors?
What were the behaviors?
Did the “good guy" win?
What can this story teach you about dealing with bullies?
How can you apply what you learned about conflict to a real-life conflict you may face?
Incorporating Internal Conflict
As I mentioned earlier, while this story has a great deal of external conflict, there aren’t really many good examples of internal conflict to point out to your kids. However, we know that the characters surely experienced internal conflict. Have your students imagine what types of internal conflicts must have been going on in the characters’ heads.
For example, Rikki had to have been scared at some point. Do you think he could have struggled internally with what to do? Maybe there was a small part of him that wanted to run away from Nag and Nagaina, instead of staying and fighting. See if your students can come up with other ways the characters may have struggled internally.
This post is part of the series: Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling Series
- Understanding the Short Story Elements of Rikki Tikki Tavi
- Rikki Tikki Tavi Lesson Plan: Teaching Conflict
- Rikki Tikki Tavi Activities: Going Across the Curriculum