Uploaded by James Zhang

To Kill An Elephant

1. Shooting an Elephant takes place in Moulmein, lower Burma. Great Britain was
attempting to take over the Burmese, exercising the use of Colonialism. This
event occurred in 1886. The theme is the need for conformity, and the issue is
Colonialism. Colonialism causes the need for conformity. Orwell explicitly says
that he hates his job with a passion, “As for the job I was doing, I hated it more
bitterly than I can perhaps make clear.”
2. The elephant – (Overt and Coercive)
The British Government – Orwell brings up the notion that, through imperialism,
both conqueror and conquered are destroyed. Orwell clearly states his unease
with colonial Britain: "I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil
thing... I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British."
(Hidden and coercive) The narrator perceives that the conqueror is not in control,
but it is rather the will of the people that governs his actions.
The Burmese Citizens – (Hidden and Coercive) They clearly weren’t informing
the officer to kill the elephant, they’re just expecting it after its attack of “must”.
The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the
theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going
to have their bit of fun after all.”
The elephant – (Hidden and Non-Coercive) It doesn’t know what it’s doing is
wrong. In the outro, Orwell used the words “attack of must”, implying the rfact
that the elephant is simply being what it does in its “must” situation.
Orwell himself – (Overt and Non-Coercive) “And at that distance, peacefully
eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I
think now that his attack of "must" was already passing off.
Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him. I decided that I would watch
him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go
home.” Orwell didn’t want to harm the elephant as it stands harmless and poses
no threats.
He feels that it’s *unnecessary* and morally wrong to kill the elephant. Orwell
clearly states it himself, “But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating
his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that
elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was
not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to.”
His moral conscience and his immoral actions were in a state of dilemma. – “He wears
a mask, and his face grows to fit it.” He shot the elephant only because it became what
was expected of him for the time being. He let go of his own morals because he gave in
to the pressure the crowd had manifested upon him. “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.”
Orwell values social equality, because he despises British imperialism and he
sees the British rule as “an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down” because
of the dark external stimuli that he caught a glimpse of – the savage imprisonments and
whippings that the British utilize to enforce their control. So he can’t express his notion
of imperialism being an “evil commodity” with the countrymen, nor talk of the “utter
silence” to the Burmese due to the “utter silence” stemming from the reasoning behind
imperialism that basically implies, “Hey, my culture’s different and possess more ability
and capacity of power than your culture”.
“In a job like that you see the dirty work of empire at close quarters”
- Orwell explains why he comes to despise the British; that is to say by overserving its
methods of the oppression of Burmese society up close and personal, as the one who
performs the “dirty work”.
My values I can agree on with Orwell:
Putting an end to big animals is worse than killing small ones..
Imperialism has a negative effect on the subjects as much as it does on the
individuals involved in the imperial power
I would have just a much of a hard time, if not even more of a grueling time
deciding whether or not to end the elephant. It was me in Orwell’s case, I’d rather
get spat on than to kill. The world at the time demanded healing. If I were to have
shot the elephant, let it be gone as would my dignity, respect, morals, and the
dream for world peace. On top of that, I’d inadvertently pose a greater influence
the treachery, sin, posture and corruption.
In paragraph 2, it states that, “The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking
cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred
buttock of the men who had been Bogged with bamboos – all these oppressed me with
an intolerable sense of guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and
ill-educated and I had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on
every Englishman in the East.” The Burmese were the ones suffering from the state of
mind of the state at the time.
Orwell had an inner struggle whether to kill the elephant or not. He thought that if
the elephant were kept alive, its price tag would be a least a few hundred pounds.
However, if it were shot dead, its tusks would be only going to worth about five pounds.
Moreover, he saw the animal as if it were human, if you will, by referring ‘it’ to ‘he’. He
said, “It seems to be that it would be murder to shoot him.” Additionally. A life had been
ended by the elephant and needs to be considered and there would be possibilities that
the elephant will escape again, wreaking havoc amongst the village. For it was these
reasons that Orwell questions his decision.
The narrator opens up to open fire about his identity as an Imperialist that
control fellow Burmese. If he didn’t get rid of the elephant as the villager
expected, he would be viewed as a coward. This will further affect efforts to
enforce law in Burma. The narrator also describes, “I perceived in this moment
that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys,” to
show an imperialist had to control or act as what had been expected. It
concludes the oppressor would’ve been affected when taking control of others.
The purpose of the text is to educate people on the consequences of one’s act.
The author presented his story with hatred and fed up tones as he
described how sick he was to serve the Empire. Next, he gave a metaphorical
explanation on how he was set to react. He compared himself to a “hollow posing
dummy conventionalized figure of a sahib”. Like an actor on stage he forced to
do what was expected by the natives or audiences. I believe the elephant
resembles also the Empire’s power. As he shot the elephant, its body just altered
but did not fall. After several shots, it fell, but not dead. I repeat, the elephant was
dying but not dead, just like the Empire’s diminishing power over Burma.
The Nazis targeted Jews as the main enemy, killing six million Jewish
men, women, and children all under the means of achieving their goals, in the
name of basing their actions on racist and arrogant and beliefs that Germans
were Superior.
Incorporating the art of their wide-reaching efforts to remove from German soil
racially, biologically, or socially unfit, the Nazis targeted many other groups as
well, including even their own people, the Germans, with physical and mental
barriers, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses. In the course of this tyranny,
the Nazis left countless lives shattered and took the souls of millions.
Now, in no way can the essay compare to the scope and scale of the tragedy of
the Holocaust, but it does state that, “The wretched prisoners huddling in the
stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts,
the scarred buttocks of the men who had been bogged with bamboos – all these
oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt.”
I’d write about when I was bullied as a kid in grade 5, what thoughts and
introspection I provoked, my initial feelings and what it taught me. My bully and I
would be involved. I’d use writing this as a release of pervious childhood
sufferings outside of family contradictions and turmoil built up through my
childhood as if the universe had planned it to happen for me to unveil my true
nature, today. I feel like the moral of my story is you’ll only get better by the bitter
truth of life; through suffering there will only be a warmer, brighter and the most
compassionate light to be seen and felt if we keep our composure and trust the
process. Let us not be overly interactive with the intelligence but co-exist with the
mind and body. To be willing to let go of all untruth and manifest our dreams due
to previous extremities that we had overcame. I can envision myself making a
hip-hop track to this story, drawing, painting, maybe even poetry or dedicating
time to write a book about dealing with childhood trauma.