Shooting An Elephant Essay

Shooting An Elephant Essay

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Shooting an Elephant
In life we as humans often make decisions that we would not have made on our own if we would not have been influenced by someone else. As humans others' opinions mean a great deal to us, and in "Shooting an Elephant", Orwell shows how true this idea is by the tone of the story.
"Shooting an Elephant" is the story of a British policeman in Moulmein, a city in Burma, that is torn between shooting or not shooting an elephant that has gone ramped. The native people did not like him much, but when the elephant went on its rampage they were quick to call on him. What seemed like is should have been an easy task for the officer to do was harder than he ever could have imagined when he can face to face with it. When the elephant was going on its rampage the officer wanted to shoot him but once it stopped he could not bring himself to do it. However, when he looked around and saw all of the natives watching and waiting in anticipation for him to kill the elephant, he realized that he ultimately had no way out other than to kill the elephant.
This story deals with the internal conflict between his personal morals and his duty to his country but more importantly, his duty to uphold the reputation of the white man in a foreign land .Orwell's decision to kill the elephant is a direct result of imperialism. Imperialism goes way farther than the average person could ever imagine, because it can overtake a persons life and no matter how much they want to do something on their own imperialism is always there in the back of their mind. The officer struggles to live by his personal morals while trying to uphold the laws of imperialism.
The tone of this story is very important because it initially grabs the audience and...


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... him wearing a mask again when he wants to avoid looking like a fool.
He decides that shooting the elephant will help prevent any humiliation, because he can not let anyone laugh at him since "every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at." The officer shot the elephant in his own words, "solely to avoid looking like a fool."
In the end we see how a person can make a decision against his own better judgment to please a stereotype. The officer had to make the decision of shooting the elephant because if he didn't the reputation of every white man would have been ruined. The power of imperialism would be obsolete, and the fear that the native people had for the white men would have been gone as well. Trying to fit into a mold or "mask" that does not fit you only brings about more problems than it would if you were you're true self.

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