Shooting an Elephant Summary

Topics: Burma, George Orwell, British Empire Pages: 3 (1069 words) Published: June 24, 2013
My Interpretation of "Shooting An Elephant"

By Christina Harry
English Composition 111

"Shooting An Elephant" by George Orwell (1903-1950) is to me, a memoir of the time he spent in Moulmein, Burma, as a European sub-divisional police officer of the town. He was sent there to attempt control of the unruly Burmese people by the British Empire. Orwell was a white European and was hated by the people because Europeans had treated them so badly. Orwell was "all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British." (Orwell, 1984) He was upset by the things that he saw happening to the Europeans and stated "I hated it more bitterly than I can explain." (1984) He also felt that "Imperialism was an evil thing" (1984) and did not agree with it at all. He felt that he was trapped by a job that he hated in a place that hated him and wanted to do what he believed was right, but was hindered by wanting to be accepted by the Burmese people.

The main point of this writing, I believe, is that Orwell was faced with a decision to shoot or not shoot a "mad" elephant while it was doing virtually no harm at the time. In making a decision to kill the animal, he would be making many, many of the towns people happy. While at the same time, upsetting the owner of the elephant and the younger Burmese people that thought " it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie." (1984) In deciding to shoot the elephant, he said "And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East." (1984) Orwell felt that he was "sort of a hollow, posing dummy" (1984) because he was acting on what he thought was "expected" of him and not truly what he believed was right at the time. He tries to justify the...
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