Primary Source Analysis

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Primary Source Analysis

In order to determine the validity of a source, to prove it is a primary source and not a secondary source, one must look at several things. There are many aspects about it that show its validity. These include; when the event the source is talking about took place compared to when the author wrote the piece and when they were alive, whether or not it was an eye-witness account, and the reason the author wrote about it. Also in the evaluation process of the source, one must consider the audience in which it was written for, the evidence used to support the author, and the value of it in history. In examining the article Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell, One can find this article in indeed a valid, reliable primary source.

This article was written by George Orwell who wrote it in 1936 shortly following the imperialistic time period of Britain in India. In this article, Orwell describes the situation in which he was dealing with while he was a police officer in Moulmein, in Lower Burma. The first aspect one should look at in deciding whether or not the source is primary is when it was written. Since this was written soon after the event actually took place, it is easy to say this source is reliable in this aspect. The next thing to look at is the audience. The audience is for the Englishmen back in England and the colonized or the educated of the time. During this time period, there was a lot of hostility and tension between the British trying to keep the peace and the Indian people upset about them being there in the first place. “I was hated by large numbers of people…. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all.”

In this article, Orwell provides very good evidence to support this as a primary source. “In a job like that you see the dirty work of the empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long term convicts, the scarred...
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