Comparing The Intimate Enemy And George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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This afternoon, we discussed Ashis Nandy’s The Intimate Enemy and George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant. Both authors raised interesting points about the psychological toll that colonialism exacts on both coloniser and colonised, and we explored the various interpretations of Elephant in relation to Nandy’s theses of colonialism as developed from ageism and sexism in Britain.
Orwell’s story provides an empathetic rendering of the politics of power Nandy through the eyes of a disenchanted British police officer stationed in Burma who encounters an escaped elephant. He is trapped between his personal desire to leave the elephant in peace and the need to demonstrate to the Burmese the ‘manly’ resoluteness of a ruler by shooting it. This performative aspect of fulfilling a role affirms Nandy’s belief that colonialism begins with the internalisation of colonial role definitions (Nandy 6). Eventually, the narrator’s will is subordinated in favour of the crowd’s – “When the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys” (Orwell 152).
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While Pei argued that the narrator should bear full accountability as he is ultimately motivated by his proud need “not to be laughed at” (Orwell 153), Siraj posited that we should blame not the colonisers or colonised but colonialism itself, which he saw as symbolised by the gun. Additionally, we considered how the elephant was also characterised by language markers of age and sex. Greene points out that it appeared “immensely old” (Orwell 154) at its deathbed while I suggested that Orwell’s transition from “it” to “he” (Orwell 152) after describing the elephant’s violent attack on the Dravidian coolie humanised the elephant along gender
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