Lessons Learned

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Jhesson Ynoa
Eng11 – 1857
May 10, 2010

In the essays that we have read this semester, the authors were effective in helping their readers to learn something from the authors various subject matters, which could be used in the readers’ own lives. I have chosen four essays that I have read this term from which I have learned from. The four essays I decided on are: “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” by Deborah Tannen, “What Really Scares Us” by David Ropeik, and “Delusions of Grandeur” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell writes of his experience in British ruled India in the early Twentieth Century. At the time, he was a young, inexperienced soldier stationed there to help protect the Queen’s interests. While he was there, he had to do something that had made some ethical conflicts within him. Orwell had to kill an elephant that had run rampant in lust throughout a village. In its rampage the elephant destroyed a truck, a hut, and killed a villager. The villagers were obviously upset about the situation and he was called upon to restore the order before anything or anyone was hurt. Throughout the ordeal, he decided that it was best to kill the elephant. His reasons for doing so, however, were not as clear-cut. He said his ultimate decision was to not look bad in front of the villagers that gave him a degree of shame. Orwell’s decision is to keep a measure of order and respect within the community. The British presence there has to be kept where respect and discipline are always maintained. If not, the anarchy that would eventually ensue would make laws and codes harder to enforce. “The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.” With such vast odds against the troops there, if he showed the slightest weakness, the villagers would pounce upon him; everything would descend into chaos. At that precise moment, he realized that the British rule there was utterly void and useless, “And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the east.” What choice did he have then? No more than when the damage done by the elephant was done. In order to preserve the common good, he had to do something he did not want to. Lessons learned from this essay are the effects of imperialism or as Orwell called it, the “evils of Imperialism”. It is obvious that Orwell didn’t shoot the elephant because he wanted to but because of the influence from the British oppressors. One can use this essay as an example not only to notice the effects of bad influence amongst an entire population but learn of imperialism and its negative effects. Even though one has been conquered they don’t have to become as them which can lead to even more unjust doing.

In Deborah Tannen’s “Sex, Lies, and Conversation”, Tannen explains how differently men and women perceive conversation in their relationship. She states that the lack of conversation is generating conflicting issues from both men and women who are in a relationship. This is due to the fact that men and women have very different expectations of communication. Tannen describes how differences in communication start during childhood socialization. Tannen states that for women, as for little girls, intimacy is the fabric of relationships, and talk is the thread from which it is woven. For young girls and women, conversation what creates and maintains friendship. By sharing secrets, thoughts, and feelings girls and women build intimacy in their relationships. As for boys, Tannen explains that bonds between boys can be as intense as girls’, but they are based less on talking, more on doing things together. Since they don’t assume that talk is what creates a relationship, men don’t know what kind of talk women want. Young boys are more inclusive with each...
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