Shooting an Elephant

1589 Words4 Pages
The art of telling a story relies on the language used. Whether a writer is good at using the language appropriately is vital for an interesting and impressive story. So how can the uses of appropriate language affect the whole narration of a story? George Orwell, one of the most famous English authors, was born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, India, in 1903. His father was a colonial official for the British and his mother’s family also had colonial ties. In 1922, Orwell worked as a British imperial policeman in Burma for five years but he finally returned to England again because he recognized the injustices of the British imperial rule in Burma and could not suffer the guilt of oppressing the Burmese anymore. Later, Orwell spent the next twenty years as a writer; the essay “Shooting an Elephant,” set in the Burma of the 1920s and written in 1936, is one of his most famous works. In the early twentieth century, Burma was still a colony of Britain but anti-imperialism protests and social movements developed very fast, causing “great tension between Burmese, Indians and English, between civilians and police” (Meyers 56). Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” is based on this historical tension. In this essay, Orwell depicts an older narrator recounting his imperial policeman’s experience of killing an escaped elephant that destroyed a market and killed an Indian man in Burma. Throughout the story, Orwell chooses language carefully to develop his narration so as to help the readers explore a young imperial officer’s emotional struggle. First, Orwell begins his story with frequent use of carefully-chosen diction to indicate the young policeman’s hatred and also sympathy toward the Burmese. When he describes he was always “an ob... ... middle of paper ... ...t and even to feel lucky that someone’s death can free him of responsibility for killing the elephant. But this naïve voice can increase the old narrator’s credibility because readers can feel his sincerity; he is willing to admit that his younger self really felt a bit lucky that he was out of punishment because of the elephant killing an Indian man at that time. It convinces the reader to believe what the narrator argues at last: as an imperial officer, he has to do what the natives expect of him in order to conform to his “conventionalized figure of the sahib”(Orwell 95), which is “to avoid looking a fool”(Orwell 99) in front of the natives. Overall, in this essay, Orwell uses effective language to make his narration of the story more impressive and thoughtful, and to explore an imperial officer’s struggle between his good nature and his imperial role.
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