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Shooting an Elephant

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by

Marcela Sordo

on 26 October 2015

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Transcript of Shooting an Elephant

Shooting an Elephant
Question 1
Orwell despises the thought of the British in Burma.
Answer 2
At the time of the incident, the author understood that the British Empire had felt an
obligation
to commence in attacking the Burmese due to the pressure enforced by the British people.
Answer 3
The sentence means Orwell had been able to see the way tyrannical governments had worked.
Answer 4
As George started to see the true colors of the imperialistic government, he witnessed the mistreatment of the Burmese prisoners
Answer 5
This means that “theoretically” (according to the theory of acceptable treatment towards others) George felt the British had harshly treated the Burmese, especially when locking them up in prisons.
" “I [George] was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British."
How does Orwell feel about the British presence in Burma? How does he feel about his job with the Indian Imperial police? What are some of the internal conflicts Orwell describes feeling in his role as a colonial police officer? How do you know?
Answer 1
Orwell works under the Imperial Police of Burma. George, once again, detests this job.
"As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters.”
The internal conflict ( man vs. himself ) primarily deals with Orwell remaining stuck between serving for the British and his hatred towards the Burmese people's harsh natures.
, “All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible”
Question 2
He wrote and published this essay a number of years after he had left the civil service. How does Orwell describe his feelings about the British Empire, and about his role in it, both at the time he took part in the incident described, and at the time of writing the essay, after having had the opportunity to reflect upon these experiences? Point to examples in the text which support your view.
“ a white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys”
Orwell understood that white men (of the British Empire) could not show the fear and had to follow what the crowd of people around them desire, hence losing their freedom.
Orwell had reflected on the issue and realized that the British Empire
had
had to conquer in order to avoid looking like fools.
”I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.”
Question 3
What did Orwell mean by the following sentence: It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism -- the real motives for which despotic governments act.
George Orwell later on realized that killing the elephant was the right thing to do.
“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant.”
In the incident he had been forced to kill the elephant due to the pressure of the surrounding people placed on him to kill the elephant, regardless of him not wanting to kill the elephant.
Question 4
Orwell states that he was against the British in their oppression of the Burmese. However, Orwell himself was British, and in his role as a police officer he was part of the oppression he is speaking against. How can he be against the British and their empire when he is a British officer of the empire?
He had to keep quiet because the British imperialists didn't want any opposition against their rule
. For example; Orwell feels “an intolerable sense of guilt” as the prisoners of the imperialistic Britain were treated in heinous conditions where they were locked up in terrible cells and had “scarred buttocks” after being bogged with bamboos.
“I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East.”
Question 5
What does Orwell mean when he writes that he was "theoretically… all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors." Why does he use the word "theoretically" in this sentence, and what does he mean by it?
"Theoretically" is used to describe fair treatment towards others.
Answer 6
This theoretical belief slightly conflicts with Orwell’s feelings because of the actual meaning behind “theoretical”. The theory in this case involves moral treatment towards human beings. If there had been no standard or degree of punishment in this world, George may have never felt sympathy at all for the Burmese.
George Orwell does show sympathy towards the tortured Burmese by feeling guilt and oppression at the thought of their mistreatment, however this sympathy only goes so far. The sympathy lacks when it comes to his submission under the government of Britain.
George declares he would want “to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts.” Of course, the priests of Burma are the most godly and scared people in India. George lacks both empathy and sympathy when it comes to them (the priest and Burmese citizens).
He uses words like rage, evil, and drive a bayonet to showcase his lack of both sympathy and empathy towards the people.
Question 6
How does this "theoretical" belief conflict with his actual feelings? Does he show empathy or sympathy for the Burmese in his description of this incident? Does he show a lack of sympathy? Both? Focus on the kind of language Orwell uses. How does he convey these feelings through his use of language?
Answer 7
Orwell does believe there is a way to reconcile his feelings through a halt in the British imperialism.
“Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism”. Those feelings of hatred are towards a large portion of the Burmese (“the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible” as he says).
George mentioned these feelings were by-products of imperialism in the first place because he knew he would not have those feelings if there was no imperialism.
Question 7
Does Orwell believe these conflicting feelings can be reconciled? Why or why not?
Answer 8
This “utter silence” refers to the hushing of peoples thoughts because of the British imperialism.
All the officers and general men working under the British government had no say against any actions the government was taking with Burma.
The British tyranny did not want to be challenged by any opposing views especially when it comes from their same English kind.
Question 8
What does he mean by "the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East"?
Answer 9
Question 9
Why do you think the Burmese insulted and laughed at him?
Orwell's treatment made us feel dissapointed because normally police officers are venerated in the call of duty.
Ironically, even though Orwell favors the Burmese they still persecute and treat give like rubbish.
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