Orwell Shoots An Elephant

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Orwell Shoots an Elephant In the short story “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, he writes about his experience as a police officer for the British Empire in lower Burma. The story takes place in the mid 1920’s during the British occupation of Burma, and as imperialistic toleration nearly reaches the breaking point. Orwell speaks of how he feels the British empire is the oppressor even though he is one of its citizens and an enforcer of British law. Also, Orwell tells the reader about how his job as a police officer is miserable because the Burmese hate the presence of Europeans in their country. This has a strong impact on Orwell when a working elephant escapes from its owners’ home and begins to terrorize a local village, killing a man. The owner of the elephant, and the only one who can control it, is looking for the elephant but in the wrong direction, and is about twelve hours away. When the elephant is located grazing in a nearby field, Orwell has to decide whether or not to shoot the elephant or wait for the owner’s return. The added pressure of the locals behind Orwell, some of whom want the meat from the elephant and others just hopeful to see a European being crushed to death by the elephant, make it much more difficult for him to reach a decision. In the end Orwell reluctantly decides to shoot the elephant “solely to avoid looking a fool” (479) in front of the Burmese people. Living in Burma, Orwell tells the reader how the locals despise the European oppressors in their communities, jeering, spitting, and, mocking, in attempts to annoy and embarrass the British whenever possible. This hatred expressed in front of Orwell causes him equal animosity towards the Burmese people and his own country, Great Britain. Orwell feels the British are the oppressors saying at on point “I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors,

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