Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell: Experience of a Police Officer in Burma

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November 20, 2012

Shooting an Elephant

In society, we are sometimes obligated to make a decision on the spot, without looking back or looking at any options around us. It may mean you have to make a decision for a big group or have to make a decision for yourself; in this case, both of those options weren’t good ones for the man who killed the elephant. In “Shooting an Elephant” George Orwell narrates a story about his experience as a police officer in Burma that had killed an extreme elephant. Being British in a Burmese community made his perspective of a police officer a little different. He was hated by the Burmese community and they showed it, he hated his job overall, the people would say dirty remarks and insult him. In fact, the young Buddhist priests were the worse of all. What depressed him was that he’d see all the dirty works of the underground. It was all confusing and upsetting to him, he realized imperialism was an evil thing and that he’d soon want to throw his job out for the better. One day he was informed by a sub inspector of a police station that an elephant was on the loose nearby and had obviously lost control under the attack of “must”. He rode on his pony and picked up his rifle, a .44 Winchester, small enough to kill an elephant. While riding there, the Burmese people stopped to tell him how the elephant was on loose. Everyone had a different story, which got him to believe there may be no elephant after all, and this was all one big joke. The Burmese communities weren’t armed and had no weapons to kill the elephant so it all depended on who had the rifle in their hand. When he arrived, the sub inspector and some Indian constables were waiting on him by the quarters where they had last seen the elephant. As he was getting nearby he came across a hut where he had seen a dead body laying there, everyone said the elephant had stepped on him and instantly killed him. He stared at the body and then went to go see how the elephant was...
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