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Continuing the look through the songs of The Jungle Book, “My Own Home” comes at the very end of the film. All is well, Shere Khan has been chased away, never to return (I refuse to count The Jungle Book 2 as canon), Baloo is (thankfully) alive and well, and there seems to be no reason why Mowgli can’t live with his friends in the jungle forever. But then…Mowgli hears singing….and it’s a girl!
The ending of the film employs one of the oldest tropes known to storytelling: boy meets girl, boy falls head over heels in love with girl, and the girl feels likewise. In this case, Mowgli has overheard a young girl singing as she goes out to fill her water jug. The song is simple, but very beautiful (I confess, when I was young I tried to sing along, pretending I was carrying a jug on my head too).
The song tells of how she goes every day to fetch water while her father is out hunting and her mother is cooking, and she’ll do this until she is grown. Entranced by this “creature” that he has never seen before, Mowgli creeps closer and closer (to Baloo’s despair and Bagheera’s delight) until he’s perched right above where the girl is kneeling. Of course she sees him, just in time to also witness Mowgli tumble unceremoniously into the water.
With the water jug full, the girl makes ready to return home, and the song has noticeably changed. Now she sings about how (when she’s grown) she’ll have a handsome husband, and she’ll send her own daughter to fetch water, and just as this verse ends, she “accidentally” drops the jug and the water spills everywhere.
Mowgli obligingly picks the jug up and fills it for her, but the girl only smiles and starts walking back home. It’s clear what she’s trying to do, but the only thing that bothers me is that Mowgli is supposed to be about 10 years old, and presumably the girl is not much older than that. Aren’t they a little young to be engaging in playing hard-to-get?
Regardless, Mowgli, in Baloo’s words, is “hooked” and the Man-Village is his home now, which is probably for the best.
It was actually a complete accident that Darleen Carr was chosen to sing the song at all. The story goes that someone from the studio overheard her singing to herself, loved the sound, brought in her in, had her sing “My Own Home” in the studio, and that was that. Talk about a whirlwind experience!
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