Shooting an Elephant Literary Analysis

Page 1 of 3

Shooting an Elephant Literary Analysis

By | October 2012
Page 1 of 3
Inevitable Morals
George Orwell’s 1930 short story “Shooting an Elephant,” demonstrates the total dangers of the unlimited authority a state has and the astounding presentment of “future dystopia”. In the story, Orwell finds himself to be in an intricate situation that involves an elephant. Not only does the fate of the elephant’s life lie in Orwell’s hands, he has an audience of people behind him cheering him on, making his decision much more difficult to make. Due to the vast crowd surrounding his thoughts, Orwell kills the elephant in the end, not wanting to disappoint the people of Burma. Orwell captures the hearts of readers by revealing the struggles he has while dealing with the burden of his own beliefs and morals. Orwell’s story connects with the readers because they understand the emotions and stress one can have before making a tough decision, as well as fretting about being judged at the same time. In the beginning of his story, Orwell illustrates his position as a hated police officer. He was consistently insulted and despised by the Burmese people. The locals were always treating him poorly, but he always did his job and kept in mind their best interest. He was already somewhat of a leader in this town because of his position, but now that there is the situation with a ravaging elephant in the town, he is forced to step up and take control of the elephant. “Being the white ‘leader’, he should have been able to make an independent decision, but was influenced by the ‘natives’” (Orwell 101). Orwell has this immense pressure building up over this decision, and his emotions as “Here I was the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed crowd-seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind” (101). Majority of the people in the world have been faced with a situation similar to this, taking responsibility of something that can be life changing....