Orwell’s A Hanging: the Catalyst Composition By Derin Tolu “I let go of the dog, and it galloped immediately to the back of the gallows; but when it got there it stopped short, barked, and then retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out at us” (Orwell 217). Can a dog be more human than humans themselves? In George Orwell’s A Hanging the dog is more human than any of the people observing the atrocity that is being carried out in front of their eyes. The story opens the gateway to Orwell’s exploration of the human condition and a loss of innocence that ultimately is the catalyst for his future works. Orwell begins by creating a concrete contrast to his surroundings by introducing a very playful and fun loving dog to the otherwise melancholy and bleak surroundings of the prison yard “--a dog, come goodness knows whence, had appeared in the yard. It came bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together. it danced and gamboled just out of his reach, taking everything as part of the game”(216). The image of the playful dog is a representation of the innocence of man, a state that is almost childlike. The dog is unaware of what is going on at that very moment, just like a child does not know the evils of the world he/she is living in and in blissful ignorance may talk to a stranger that may rape or kill him/her later. The prisoner is the image of the oppressed man, the man that society has cast out and deemed unfit to even live. This is where we see Orwell’s future literary voice and political ideologies start to open up and possibly take life. The prisoner is a criminal and is being sentenced to death for a crime which the reader is unaware of but if we look at the audacious things that people were put to death for in Imperial India ranging from, treason to the crown (there was no exact list of what was considered...
Cited: Orwell, George. "A Hanging." Baldwin, Dean and Patrick J Quinn. An Anthology of Colonial and Postcolnial Short Fiction. Boston: Houghton, 2007. 215-218.
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