Faith and religion
Religion is an important theme in the short story “Lispeth” by Rudyard Kipling. Lispeth is christened at an early age and grows up in the family of a missionary chaplain. Since she grew up in this faith, and at first she embraces it fully: “Lispeth took to Christianity readily, and did not abandon it when she reached womanhood, as do some Hill girls.” (p. 266, ll. 13-14)
However, members of the local community judge her and are against her faith and her adoption of British ways: “Her own people hated her because she had, they said, become a memsahib [a white woman] and washed herself daily.” (p. 266, ll. 14-16)
Furthermore, the narrator suggests that he does not believe in the superiority of the Christian faith. This is first hinted at through the epigram before the story (p. 265, ll. 1-6) and reconfirmed later: “Whether Christianity improved Lispeth, or whether the gods of her own people would have done as much under any circumstances, I do not know” (p. 266, ll. 3-5). The use of the first person suggests that the narrator does not believe it was necessarily Christianity that made Lispeth grow into a better person.
Also, due to the deception and lies of Christians around her, Lispeth eventually decides to abandon the Christian faith and return to her native people and their beliefs: “ ‘I am going back to my own people,’ said she....