Shooting An Elephant – George Orwell
Orwell begins his essay by describing the intense hatred of the Burmese for their European masters. In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people, the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me. Europeans were spit at, jeered at, and insulted. As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. I feel his sympathies were on the side of the Burmese, and against the British. The British represent the industrial west with its strict command structure and its empirical dominance. The Burmese represent a powerless pre-industrial society ruled by a modern superpower looking beyond its own borders to expand its empire. Orwell uses the information he knows about how the British Empire mistreats the people of Burma and the way he is mistreated by the Burmese. In the essay he writes not just about his personal experience with the elephant but he compares the experience is to the British Imperialism and his views on the matter. When Orwell receives a telephone report of an elephant “ravaging the bazaar”. He takes his rifle, intended only for defense, and rides on the horseback to the alleged whereabouts of the elephant. Once he gets there he meets the Burmese sub-inspector and they look at what the elephant has done. Actions that at this point don’t justify killing the elephant. But later when he rounded a hut he notice a dead “black Dravidian coolie”, lying in the mud of the street. It quickly becomes clear, that this could be the elephant’s doing and consequently Orwell orders an elephant rifle. On his way to the elephant, his precession of sightseers, excited at the possibility of seeing a dead elephant, grows. Orwell still doesn’t want to shoot the elephant because, “I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant--it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of...
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