With Father’s Day coming up, let’s reflect on the barest of necessities: kids having a dad in their lives.
One of the biggest worldwide hits of the summer—or any summer, for that matter—is The Jungle Book, Disney’s charming new interpretation of the Kipling classic. Children are eating up this film. But it’s not surprising that the intelligentsia, which once called the book a celebration of British imperialism, are now calling it racist garbage, not to mention politically incorrect.
Ironically, in their rush to condemn The Jungle Book, the critics are missing Kipling’s most politically incorrect message of all: That boys need their fathers, and need them desperately.
It’s a message we should pay particular attention to on Father’s Day, coming up on Sunday.
As Jody Bottum writes in The Federalist, Kipling’s writings for children “derive from his intense feeling of being an abandoned child, sent home from India to live in a boarding school at age five.” Bottum notes, “The subtext of nearly every one of his children’s stories is a boy’s desperate need for a father.” Kipling himself is “so eager for a father that he cannot write about a boy without casting every older male in a father role.”
For example, in The Jungle Books, the story of an orphaned man-cub named Mowglie, we have Baloo the bear, whom Bottum calls a “kindly but learned” father figure. Bagheera, the panther, is another father figure, while the wolf Akela “is father as clan lawgiver.” The python Kaa is “father as source of ancient memory and possessor of mysterious powers.”