To Shoot And Elephant, Orwell Summary

783 words - 4 pages

Orwell begins his autobiographical short story by telling how he is serving as an officer in the British-held Burma. He confesses his feelings of hatred toward the British imperialism and its ideals and his sympathy for the Burmese locals, but also how he despises every local who jeers and mocks him. Orwell feels strongly against both sides and fails to fully commit the entirety of his mind behind any decision regarding the fate of the escaped elephant in this tale. This struggle between Orwell’s logic and reason versus the social pressure and sympathy he feels from the ever-growing herd of locals is the main axis that all of the conflict in this account revolves around.
“I had ...view middle of the document...

He was aware of the crowd’s growing size, and of the pressure to shoot the elephant, but like Orwell said himself, “I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him,” upon seeing him for the first time (2). The elephant was able-bodied, trained, and in working condition, so it was incredibly valuable and that factor was taken into consideration. Orwell had abundant hesitations about shooting the elephant whether they be logical or emotional, but when he turned around to see the mass of Burmese gathering around him he immediately felt as though he had an obligation to do it (3). Orwell feared being seen as a coward, being laughed at, and not being seen as resolute and strong (3). Orwell even states what he knows what he should do, “I ought to walk up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behavior. If he charged, I could shoot; if he took no notice of me, it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back,” (3) but he was fearful that he would sink into the mud and would miss his shot and still not be able to flee the elephant had it...

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