Shooting An Elephant

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Kaz Kim Nov. 7th 2010 WR97 Analytical Summary Analytical Summary: Shooting an Elephant In "Shooting an Elephant," by George Orwell, Orwell recounts an event from his life when he was about twenty years old during which he had to choose the lesser of two evils. Many years later, the episode seems to still haunt him. The story takes place at some time during the five unhappy years Orwell spends as a British police officer in Burma. He detests his situation in life, and when he is faced with a moral dilemma, a valuable work animal has to die to save his pride. Orwell begins to show his inner conflict by stating how he feels about being a European imperial policeman. Orwell is an unhappy young policeman who lives in mental isolation. He hates British imperialism, he hates Burmese natives, and he hates his job. He is completely alone with his thoughts since he cannot share his idea that "imperialism was an evil thing"(pg.10) with his countrymen. Orwell sees the British rule as "an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down. . . upon the will of prostate peoples"(pg.11) because he observes firsthand the cruel imprisonments and whippings that the British use to enforce their control. Nor can he talk to the Burmese because of the "utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East."(pg.10) This "utter silence" results from the reasoning behind imperialism that says, "Our cultures are different. My culture has more power than your culture. Therefore, my culture is superior in every way, and it will rule yours." If one is a member of a superior culture, one must not make jokes, share confidences, or indicate in any way that a member of the inferior culture is one's equal. A wall, invisible but impenetrable, stands between the British and the Burmese. His hatred for the Burmese is caused by their bitter feelings against the oppressive Europeans. Orwell
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