George Orwell

Essay by nishniishJunior High, 9th grade November 2014

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Deborah Lacebal



Shooting an Elephant: George Orwell 1903 - 1950

George Orwell was a European officer who worked in Lower Burma. He was disliked by most of the Burmans', even though he was secretly on their side and against their British adversaries. Orwell sees imperialism as evil and was oppressed by the abuse the Empire inflicted on the prisoners. He was unable to talk openly about his feelings of hate and the guilt he endured. He faced constant moral struggles because of his occupation and personal morality.

One day he was called to an incident about an elephant that had gone wild. He left with his rifle and started questioning the people about the elephant. It was not long before he started to feel discouraged by the lack of information he received. He found a coolie Indian who had been stepped on, his head crushed to the ground by the elephant.

After seeing the Indian it reminded Orwell just how ugly death can be.

He found the elephant eating peacefully and realized the only reason it went wild was out of fear and decided not to shoot it. When he turned around, he saw over half the Burmese population excited and eagerly waiting for the death of the elephant. The pressure of what he was expected to do bothered him. Orwell knew that if he did not shoot the elephant, not only he, but the future, "white man," would be laughed at forever. After going over several scenarios in his head, he aimed and opened fire. They all watched as the elephant fell, yet it continued to breathe. Orwell fired continuously at the elephant, but it still did not die. He stood, seemingly transfixed on the horrible scene, watched the elephant suffer; and then walked away.