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How the Leopard got His Spots: A Term Paper

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    How the Leopard got His Spots: A Term Paper

    The story by Rudyard Kipling entitled “How the Leopard got his Spots” takes people to an imaginative state. It somehow makes the reader leave his present state, which is the reality and visit an extraordinary place in his imagination, wherein he will be able to meet talking animals and be in a different place. The story mainly discusses how spots were acquired by the leopard or how blotches appeared on the giraffe’s skin, which in general, just like the other stories written by Kipling, is a story on how things started and how one acquired something that wasn’t there before. A story starting from every thing being the same and suddenly ending to a certain difference or change in the physical aspect, giving the other acquaintances something to wonder about and consider.

    How the Leopard got his Spots’ setting is in High Veldt, a sandy place with sandy- colored rocks and grass where every animal seem to have the same color as every one else in the place. There was a zebra, a giraffe, a koodoo and an eland. These four animals had the same skin color, “sandy-yellow- brownish” as described by Kipling. Two of the creatures in High Veldt, which is located in South Africa, appear to be different from the others, but get along well with each other that they often go hunting together. The first one is the leopard, his physical appearance came out to be more than the others or darker. The author described the leopard as a “greyish-yellowish-catty-shaped kind of beast”. The second is the Ethiopian, a man, a grown-up, but with the same skin tone but a little lighter as that of the leopard. With the two creatures’ undeniable and noticeable difference from the others and the other creatures being hunted by the leopard and the Ethiopian, the others animals namely, the giraffe, the zebra, the eland and the koodoo decided to leave High Veldt and start looking for a new place to live in. During their journey, they found a forest and hide in there. After their long-enjoyable stay in the great forest, the four animals started to adapt the nature of the place, the eland and koodoo appeared to be darker, the giraffe got blotches and the zebra had stripes. On the other side, the leopard and the Ethiopian started to starve that when they consulted the Baviaan they also decided to leave High Veldt and started to look for their others who were once their acquaintances, who also left. Like the others, they also arrived at the great forest. The two were confident that the others are also present in their new found place but there is no sight of the zebra, the eland, the koodoo or even the giraffe. Confidence had made them stay in the forest until night time and made them found out that the other animals were there at the same as they were. The Ethiopian and the leopard captured the others and sat at them the whole night. The next day, the other animals informed them how they manage to keep from other’s sight while the others being sure that they were around, a demonstration was shown that left only the blotches and stripes visible to the eye. The other animals had a camouflage with their environment. At the moment of acquiring that knowledge, the Ethiopian decided to change his original color to black, also reminding the leopard what the Baviaan had said about changing his spots like what the others had done. With the help of the new-skinned Ethiopian man, the leopard got his spots. The grown-up man, using his five fingers put the excess of his black skin to the greyish-yellowish skin of the leopard. And from the on, the leopard’s skin was with spots, having each five black spots close to each other.

                The story was written in a manner that readers would easily comprehend. All parts were clearly written. The description of the places, for example “they saw a great, high, tall forest full of tree trunks all ‘sclusively speckled and sprottled and spottled, dotted and splashed and slashed and hatched and cross-hatched with shadows”, the characters, for example, “the giraffe and the zebra and the eland and the koodoo and the Hartebeest lived there,: and they were ‘sclusively yellow-brownish all over”, and the movements, like, “he heard a grunt and a crash and a scramble” were very realistic that made it effortless for the readers to envision the actions and activities that are occurring. While various words were spelled in a different manner; like ‘member for remember, and ‘sclusively for exclusively. This form of writing would somehow put a modest bewilderment to the readers but not for this story because the author managed to use them in an easy-to-grasp approach. The words spelled in a different manner did not have the effect that seemed to change the meaning the narrative or the sentence where these words were included. Over-all, the style used in writing the story is an approach that caters mostly young readers. There was simplicity in the use of words throughout, even though a slight of traditional English was used at the beginning.

    Adaptation in a new environment is one noticeable scientific aspect in the story. It was mentioned in the story that the animals being gag around by the leopard left the High Veldt and lived in the great forest. Another thing is that when the leopard and the Ethiopian was experiencing starvation and consulted the Baviaan, they also left the High Veldt and arrived at the same forest where the other animals were currently residing. Essenfeld (1996) and his colleagues defined adaptation as the inherited characteristic that helps an individual survive and reproduce. This means that the organism has traits that are favored by the environment and these traits become more dominant among others that help the organism survive. Going back to the story, the animals that arrived there first were able to adapt and survive with the great forest’s environment. In relation to this, another concept in biology was made specific, camouflage. Camouflage is a form of adaptation wherein animals that have evolved have the capability of blend in the environment (Essenfeld, et al., 1996). Being able to blend with the environment, the detection of predator and prey can be avoided. This concept of camouflage was presented in the scene where the leopard and the Ethiopian were able to notice the presence of zebra and giraffe but they weren’t able to see them. And also when the other animals showed the leopard and the Ethiopian how they remain out of other’s sight. The zebra and giraffe were able to blend with their environment that only the stripes and blotches present on their skin remained visible to the naked eye.

    “Kipling wrote these stories for children. Each story is from the perspective of an adult talking to a child. They feel like folk tales—and they are all delightful and innocent creations of imagination” (Reid, 2008).  The zebra, giraffe, Ethiopian and leopard are the characters to which the story had revolved. These animals and the human would certainly leave an impact to the ones reading the short story and even the ones whom the story is being read to. Children would be able to discover that the main point of the story is how the main character, in this case, the leopard has got his spots, or in a more proper phrase how the person involved was able to found out and figured out who or what he must truly be. When telling the story to children, an adult can actually mention that there is no one in this world who will be more like a certain person. No matter how much similarities two persons might possess, there will always be something in them that makes them both unique and more than a carbon copy of another.  A lesson that would certainly make children more interested and fixed in the story is that self-comparison with other people is not healthy because each and every person is different.

    Etymology focuses on the beginning of things. Just the way the story was detailed and presented. It is mentioned already in the title, “How the leopard got his spots”. The story detailed how an animal such as the leopard, who started out just a plain animal just like everyone else in the High Veldt and ended up finding his own identity. The whole story focused on how each character found own identities in the long process of living in High Veldt to migrating to the great forest.


    Burns, G (2007). Theater review: ‘just so’ is just great. Retrieved July 11, 2008, from

    Essenfeld, B. E., C. R. Gontang & R. Moore (1996). Biology. 2nd edition. New York: Addison

    Wesley Publishing Company.

    Kipling, R. How the leopard got his spots.  Retrieved July 11, 200, from

    Reid, R (2008). Review on Just Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Retrieved July 11, 2008, from

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