Two of the short stories we have read this year, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling and “Three Skeleton Key” by George Toudouze, are suspense stories that have many similarities but also some differences.
One important similarity between these two stories has to do with the characters. In both fantasies, the antagonists (or villains) are animals. Nag and Nagaina were snakes in “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” that tried to kill Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and take over the garden. In “Three Skeleton Key”, fierce, vengeful rats that came ashore, attacking the lighthouse crew, were the antagonists. Also, both Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the Narrator had similar senses of responsibility. Rikki felt he was responsible for keeping the people who lived in the bungalow safe. The Narrator’s duty was to keep the lighthouse lit to warn passing ships of its existence. The men struggled with the decision to turn off the light in the lighthouse, even when it seemed to be their last hope in surviving.
Another comparison that can be made between these two stories is the main conflict. In “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Three Skeleton Key”, the conflict was a fight for survival. Rikki’s valiant effort to defend himself and his friends against Nag and Nagaina climaxed in his fight with Nagaina in the rat hole. He ended up killing Nagaina and saving everyone. In “Three Skeleton Key”, the Narrator, Itchoua, and LeGleo struggle for several days against killer rats that are intent on destroying them. The men decide not to light the lantern in hopes that a patrol shipwould investigate. The quick thinking of Itchoua to light the lantern when the rescue ship arrived saved the men from a terrible death at the hands of the rats.
The theme of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Three Skeleton Key” can both be summed up as even though you may be outnumbered or out-sized, never give up. The Narrator, LeGleo and Itchoua, along with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, never gave up hope. They kept fighting through their struggle...
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