Mijbil the Otter: The story is a humour that comically explains the bond between the author, Gavin Maxwell, and his pet Otter, Mijbil. Maxwell narrates his journey with Otter to London. The story revolves around the series of humorous events that occurred during their journey to London. Go through the ‘Mijbil the Otter’ revision notes that contain main key points as well as the theme and the character sketches.
The Narrator Decides to Adopt an Otter
- Gavin Maxwell was travelling to Southern Iraq when he decided to get an otter for a pet.
- He felt that his native Camusfearna would be an ideal location to raise an otter as it was close to water.
- His friend advised him to get an otter from the Tigris Marshes. Otters were abundant there and they had been tamed by the Arabs.
- They were travelling to the Consulate-General in Basra to collect their mail. The narrator’s mail hadn’t arrived.
- A few days later, he found two Arabs at the consulate bearing an otter and a note from his friend.
- The otter looked like a small dragon and was covered with pointed scales, velvet fur and mud.
- Mijbil belonged to a previously unknown species of otter. The species was later named Lutrogale perspicillata Maxwell or Maxwell’s otter.
- For Maxwell, this was the start of a lifelong affection for otters.
- Mijbil was aloof and indifferent at first. One night, however, he crawled into bed with Maxwell and slept on his knees.
- With fondness, Maxwell remembers Mijbil’s delight when he discovered the bath. Mijbil splashed around the water happily.
- Two days later, Maxwell found Mijbil in the bathroom turning on the water tap by himself.
- His favourite pastime was to play. He would spend hours playing with a rubber ball or rolling marbles down his belly while lying flat on his back.
Preparing to go to London
- Though Maxwell and Mijbil spent their time peacefully in Basra, Maxwell was worried about transporting Mijbil back to England.
- In accordance with the airplane guidelines, Mijbil was to be packed in an eighteen-inch square box.
- Maxwell put Mijbil into the box and left so that Mijbil would become accustomed to the space.
- When he returned, he was amazed to find blood on the box. Mijbil had tried to escape and cut himself on the lining of the box.
- Maxwell almost missed his flight because he had to remove all the sharp edges from the box.
The Journey to London
- After Maxwell found his seat on the plane, he talked to the airhostess about Mijbil. The airhostess kindly asked if he would like to keep his pet with him.
- Grateful, Maxwell, opened the box. In a flash, Mijbil jumped out of the box and sped down the aircraft.
- There were shrieks and crashes as passengers panicked at the sight of Mijbil. One lady even stood up on her seat and began screaming hysterically.
- The airhostess asked Maxwell to take his seat while she looked for Mijbil. Soon after, Mijbil came running to him.
Stay in London
- They stayed in London for a month. There, Mijbil invented his own game with a ping-pong ball.
- He would roll the ball on one side of an old suitcase and then run to the other side to catch it.
- The narrator also took him on walks on a lead. Mijbil developed some compulsive habits during these walks such as tugging the narrator to a wall and jumping on it.
- Some Londoners believed that Mijbil resembled a baby seal or a squirrel, while others thought he was a walrus. Still, others believed that he was a hippo, a beaver or a bear cub.
- However, Maxwell decided that the prize for the best surprised reaction would go to a labourer.
- This labourer stopped and stared as the narrator came close with Mijbil. He angrily demanded to know what Mijbil was supposed to be.
- The major theme of the story is Love for Animals.
- Maxwell decided to adopt Mijbil after the death of his beloved pet dog, Jonnie.
- The loss of Jonnie left a void in Maxwell’s life, which influenced his decision to adopt Mijbil.
- Maxwell’s deep love for Mijbil is evident throughout the story.
- He nostalgically recalls every detail of their first meeting. He also claims to be completely enthralled by Mijbil, and otters in general.
- In this way, the story reflects the narrator’s love for animals, and more specifically, for this pet otter, Mijbil.
The two major characters in the story are:
- Gavin Maxwell
Gavin Maxwell is the author as well as the narrator of the story.
Affectionate: Maxwell’s affection for Mijbil shines through when he fondly describes Mijbil’s antics in the bath. He also affectionately allows Mijbil to sleep in the crook of his knees.
Thoughtful: Maxwell performs several thoughtful gestures for Mijbil throughout the story. These include making a body-belt for him, acquiring a selection of toys for him from his native marshes, giving him baths, and taking him on walks.
Protective: Maxwell’s protective nature is highlighted when Mijbil cuts himself on the sharp edges of his box before being transported to London. To ensure Mijbil’s safety, Maxwell trims the edges of the box. He is also grateful when the airhostess allows him to carry Mijbil on his knee during the flight.
Mijbil is the titular otter who is adopted by the narrator.
Playful: Mijbil’s playfulness is demonstrated through his bath time activities. Maxwell describes how joyfully he plunges into, rolls around, and shoots in and out of the water. He also spends hours playing with his toys which include marbles, ping-pong balls, and a terrapin shell.
Loyal: Mijbil’s loyalty towards Maxwell is emphasised during the airplane incident. After escaping his box and wreaking havoc all over the aircraft, Mijbil eventually returns to Maxwell and lovingly nuzzles his neck and face.