"Shooting an Elephant" Essay

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“Shooting an Elephant”
by George Orwell in 1936

Imperialism is “the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination”[1]. During the British colonial period from the late 16th century to the 19th century, Britain assembled an empire which in 1922 held sway over a population of about 458 million people. The United Kingdom had several colonies, dominions, protectorates, mandates and other territories all over the world called the British Empire. In the short story “Shooting an Elephant” we meet the first person narrator and the main character, possibly the author George Orwell himself, who is a sub-divisional police officer in lower Burma around the time of first World War. He is British, white and hated. Because of his British origin, he is being discriminated against by the natives although he is against the British taking colonies and against imperialism. In the following quotes we see how the natives behave when he is around: “ When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee looked another way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter.” And “In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves“. [2] The natives are jeering and bullying the narrator and it is perplexing and upsetting for him. Suddenly his sub-inspector phones him because of an elephant attack. He sets off in a hurry and arrives quickly with a Winchester rifle because he thinks the noise of the gunfire will be loud enough to frighten the animal away. However, as soon as he sees a dead man’s body sprawling in the mud because of the elephant’s aggression, he sends an orderly to a friend’s house nearby to borrow an elephant rifle. All of a sudden the natives show interest because they have seen the rifle and assume that he is going...
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