Shooting an Elephant Summary
“Shooting an Elephant” by Orwell may be a narrative essay about Orwell’s time as a policeman for British Raj in colonial Burma. The essay delves into an inner conflict that Orwell experiences in his role of representing the British Empire and upholding the law. At the opening of the essay, Orwell explains that he’s against the British colonial project in Burma. In explicit terms, he says that he’s on the side of the Burmese people, who he feels are oppressed by colonial rule. As a policeman, he sees the brutalities of the imperial project up close and first hand. He resents British presence within the country.
Inevitably then, he faces challenges as a policeman representing British imperial power. The people of Burma hate the empire too, and thus they hate Orwell, for he’s the face of the empire. They harass him and mock him and seek opportunities to tease him. He explains that at the time of the events, he’s too young to understand the dilemma of his situation or to understand the way to affect it. He thus finds himself resenting the Burmese people also. The one thing that the Burmese have over British is the ability to mock and mock them. Orwell’s entire focus as a policeman thus becomes about avoiding the ridicule of the Burmese.
The narrative centers around the event of each day when all of those conflicted emotions manifest themselves and Orwell faces them and understands them. On today, Orwell learns that an elephant has broken its chain and it’s undergoing a bout of “must” (a passing hormonal disorder that causes elephants to become uncontrollably violent). The elephant is rampaging through a bazaar, wreaking havoc. Feeling compelled to try to some decent policing, Orwell sets out with a little rifle to ascertain what’s happening. He states that he has no intention of killing the elephant.
When he arrives within the shanty town area he finds the mess the elephant has made. it’s trampled grass huts and turned over a disposal van and it’s killed a person. Orwell sends for an elephant rifle, though he still has no intention of killing the elephant. He states that he merely wants to defend himself. With the rifle, he’s led right down to the paddy fields where he sees the enormous elephant peacefully grazing.
Upon laying eyes on the elephant he instantly feels that it might be wrong to kill it. He does not incline to destroy something so complex and delightful. He describes the sweetness and great value of the animal. it might go against everything in him to kill it. He says it might be like murder. But when he looks back to ascertain the people watching, he realizes that the gang is massive—at least two thousand people!
He feels their eyes on him, and their great expectations of his role. they need to ascertain the spectacle. But more importantly, he feels, they expect him to uphold the performance of power that he’s meant to represent as a politician of the British Empire. At this stage, Orwell has the clear revelation that each one white man within the colonized world is beholden to the people whom they colonize. If he falters, he will disappoint the guise of power, but most of all, he will create a chance for the people to laugh. Nothing terrifies him quite the prospect of humiliation by the Burmese crowd. Now, the prospect of being trampled by the elephant not scares him because it might risk death. The worst part of that prospect would preferably be that the gang would laugh. during this way, he realizes that the whole enterprise of the empire is kept afloat by the private fear of humiliation of individual officers.
He thus gets down on the bottom, takes aim with the powerful elephant gun with cross-hairs within the viewer, and he fires at the elephant’s brain. He hits the elephant and therefore the crowd roars. But the elephant doesn’t die. A disturbing change comes over it and merely seems to age. He fires again and this point brings it slowly to its knees. But still, it doesn’t go down. He fires again and it comes copy, dramatically rising on hind legs and lifting its trunk before thundering to the world. Still, however, it remains alive. Orwell goes thereto and finds that it’s still breathing. He proceeds to unload bullet after bullet into the elephant’s heart, but it won’t die. The people have swarmed in to steal the meat. Without describing his shame or guilt, he leaves the elephant alive, suffering terribly. He learns later that it took half an hour for the elephant to die. There’s some discussion among the opposite cops about whether or not he did the proper thing. The older ones think he did. The younger ones feel that it is a shame to shoot an elephant for killing a Burmese collie.
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