Shooting An Elephant Essay

941 words - 4 pages

Shooting an Elephant
In life we as humans often make decisions that we would not have made on our own if we would not have been influenced by someone else. As humans others' opinions mean a great deal to us, and in "Shooting an Elephant", Orwell shows how true this idea is by the tone of the story.
"Shooting an Elephant" is the story of a British policeman in Moulmein, a city in Burma, that is torn between shooting or not shooting an elephant that has gone ramped. The native people did not like him much, but when the elephant went on its rampage they were quick to call on him. What seemed like is should have been an easy task for the officer to do was harder than he ever could have imagined when he can face to face with it. When the elephant was going on its rampage the officer wanted to shoot him but once it stopped he could not bring himself to do it. However, when he looked around and saw all of the natives watching and waiting in anticipation for him to kill the elephant, he realized that he ultimately had no way out other than to kill the elephant.
This story deals with the internal conflict between his personal morals and his duty to his country but more importantly, his duty to uphold the reputation of the white man in a foreign land .Orwell's decision to kill the elephant is a direct result of imperialism. Imperialism goes way farther than the average person could ever imagine, because it can overtake a persons life and no matter how much they want to do something on their own imperialism is always there in the back of their mind. The officer struggles to live by his personal morals while trying to uphold the laws of imperialism.
The tone of this story is very important because it initially grabs the audience and gives the perception that he is not in the wrong. He does not want the reader to judge him harshly so he stays very open and honest, this is very important for the flow of the story because without it one might instantly believe the officer was in the wrong. In the opening sentence the officer says "…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." Here he is being very open, and letting the reader know that he was just doing his job and the people hated him. It was not all his fault, they hated him more for who he was than what he was doing or standing for. He later goes on to say how he would like to stab a Buddhist priest, but then...

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