On its rampage, the elephant has destroyed public and private property and killed livestock. In Moulmein, the narrator—Orwell, writing in the first person—is a police officer during a period of intense anti-European sentiment.
Theoretically—and secretly, of course—I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British.
For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives," and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" Evidence in shooting an elephant of him.
As soon as I saw the dead man I sent an orderly to a friend's house nearby to borrow an elephant rifle. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. Its mahout, the only person who could manage it when it was in that state, had set out in pursuit, but had taken the wrong direction and was now twelve hours' journey away, and in the morning the elephant had suddenly reappeared in the town.
I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it. It was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd; besides they wanted the meat.
The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie.
While the conclusion will not be analyzed as closely as the selected passage, it will be included because of the way in which it operates as a dramatic and moving allegory of the colonial experience.
The Kipling -inspired romance of the Raj had been worn thin by the daily realities of his job in which, Having killed the elephant, the narrator considers how he was glad it killed the " coolie " as that gave him full legal backing.
This conflicted mindset is typical of officers in the British Raj, he explains.
This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. With a strong interest in the lives of the working class, Orwell—born in India to a middle-class family, but brought up in Britain—held the post of assistant superintendent in the British Indian Imperial Police in Burma from to He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib.
We began questioning the people as to where the elephant had gone and, as usual, failed to get any definite information.
There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans. He makes up his mind to simply watch the elephant to make sure it does not become aggressive again, and does not plan on harming it.
For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives," and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" expect of him.The essay "Shooting an Elephant" is set in a town in southern Burma during the colonial period.
The country that is today Burma (Myanmar) was, during the time of Orwell's experiences in the colony, a province of India, itself a British colony. The main point, the theme, of "Shooting an Elephant" is to expose the conflict between the law and one's moral conscience as this pertains to British imperialism specifically, but by extension any imperialism.
Orwell makes his point in two major ways.
Shooting an Elephant, by George Orwell, free ebook. 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. The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Colonialism appears in each section of Shooting an Elephant.
Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis. Meanwhile, the Burmese’ readiness to eat the elephant underscores the desperation of their situation, and the way in which colonial oppression has made them focus on survival rather than moral outrage at the elephant’s brutal death.
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