George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant"

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Billy Crawford
Ms. Myrna Sam
AP English Language
23 January 2013
The Elephant Contradiction
To be liked by others is a very controversial term. In George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” the “sahib” struggles as he battles himself in a self destroying and virtue deciding internal conflict. This mental battle is one that all must eventually endure. There is no definitive solution as all choices lead to new problems and consequences. The “sahib” wants to gain acceptance by the crowd behind him. By portraying his mental struggle, Orwell gives the character a common ground for his readers to connect with him, but in doing this he also shows the flaws in the “sahib” which could deter the reader from showing affection toward him.

The “sahib” is an average man who has the same goal as all other human beings in the universe. To be accepted. To have others think of you as worth something is a tremendous feeling! The “sahib” has entered his trial that everyone goes through eventually; “I glanced around at the crowd that had followed me.” He glanced is important because he goes on to talk about two thousand people being there but with only a glance it is hard to tell if that is true. He saw, “a sea of yellow faces” which shows that he thinks that they think he is a coward. You can tell this because sometimes yellow is used to show a cowardly characteristic. Orwell uses short concise sentences that are directly to the point to relay his main thoughts throughout this man’s internal conflict. He says, “A sahib has got to act like a sahib;” and, “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.” These prove that the “sahib” feels the pressure of the outside world and knows that to gain acceptance he must act to the social standard of his position in life. He realizes what he must do when he says, “They were watching me as they would watch a conjuror…” stating his worries about what they expected from him. Orwell’s use of, “two thousand wills pressing me...
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