Nineteenth century British literature cannot be properly understood, as Spivak points out “without remembering that imperialism, understood as England’s social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English”.(Ashcroft et al, 269) The British imagination, however, responded to the Empire in different ways. Even during the heyday of the Empire, there had been conflicting attitudes towards the Empire. In 1883, Sir John Seeley wrote in The Expansion of England:
There are two schools of opinion among us with respect to our Empire, of which schools the one may be called the bombastic and the other the pessimistic. The one is lost in wonder and ecstasy at its immense divisions,…this school therefore advocates the maintenance of it as a point of honour or sentiment. The other is the opposite extreme, regards it as founded in aggression and rapacity…a kind of excrescence upon England…this school therefore advocates a policy which may lead at the earliest possible opportunity to the abandonment of it. (qtd. in Smith 36)
Seeley’s analysis lays bare the unpalatable fact that one section of the British population viewed the Empire as a potential subject for assault and would prefer its dissolution. If patriotism is the watchword for Charles Kingsley, Alfred Austin, Henry Newbolt, William Ernest Henley figures like C. A. Parnell, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Robert Buchanon, Hilaire Belloc raised their voice against the imperial enterprise. Between these two opposite extremes literary analysts are often at pains how to place Kipling. The majority of critics applaud or castigate him on the same premise that Kipling expresses a form of jingo-imperialism in his works. In the recent years we have the authority of Jeffrey Meyres, Edward Said, Ashis Nandy and more recently Homi K. Bhabha, Zoreh T. Sullivan and Gail Ching-Liang Low who unearthed the anxiety and unease lurking beneath Kipling’s apparently joyful proclamation of the Empire. The modest object of this paper is to analyze Kipling’s short story “The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes”(1885) from this perspective.
The story “The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes”, which belongs to Kipling’s early phase of Indian stories first appeared in Quartette, the Christmas Annual of the Civil and Military Gazette in 1885. The protagonist is Morrowbie Jukes, an English civil engineer working in the desert of Bikanir. Typical of Kipling’s style the story is begun by a frame narrator who stands witness for the credibility of the apparently unbelieveable story of Morrowbie Jukes. Hardly after one and a half page the narrator introduces the readers to Morrowbie Jukes and quietly departs from the narrative. One evening delirious with a slight fever Morrowbie Jukes was in his camp. A number of dogs were barking outside which got on his nerves. In a wild frenzy he mounted Pornic, his horse, to pursue them. The horse bolted and on a headlong gallop Jukes fell into a horseshoe-shaped sand pit. Waking...