Shooting An Elephant

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Shooting an Elephant Summary ‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ begins with a meditative prelude to the action in which the narrator, who may be presumed to be Orwell, comments on being a colonial policeman in British Burma in the middle of the twentieth century. ‘‘I was hated by large numbers of people,’’ he says, and ‘‘anti-European feeling was very bitter.’’ A European woman crossing the market would likely be spat upon and a subdivisional police officer made an even more inviting target. Once, at a soccer match, a Burmese player deliberately fouled the narrator while the Burmese umpire conveniently looked the other direction and the largely Burmese crowd ‘‘yelled with hideous laughter.’’ The narrator understands such hatred and even thinks it justified, but he also confesses that his ‘‘greatest joy’’ at the time would have been to bayonet one of his tormenters. The action of ‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ begins when the narrator receives a telephone report of an elephant ‘‘ravaging the bazaar.’’ He takes his inadequate hunting rifle and rides on horseback to the area where the animal allegedly lurks. The narrator remarks on the squalor and poverty of the neighborhood, with its palm-leaf thatch on the huts and unplanned scattering of houses over a hillside. Conscience The narrator’s mental division points to conscience as one of the underlying themes of ‘‘Shooting an Elephant.’’ The narrator must do his duty as a colonial policeman. He despises the native Burmese for loathing and tormenting him as their foreign oppressor; yet he also perfectly well understands their loathing and tormenting; he even takes their side privately. His official position, rather than his moral disposition, compels the narrator to act in the way that he does, so as to uphold his office precisely by keeping the native Burmese in their... Shooting an elephant George Orwell, is the narrator of

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