An analysis of how the author gains the sympathy of the reader in "Shooting an Elephant," by George Orwell

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateC+, August 1996

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In "Shooting an Elephant," George Orwell finds himself in a difficult

situation involving an elephant. The fate of the elephant lies in his hands. Only

he can make the final decision. In the end, due to Orwell's decision, the elephant

lay dying in a pool of blood. Orwell wins the sympathy of readers by expressing

the pressure he feels as an Anglo-Indian in Burma, struggling with his morals,

and showing a sense of compassion for the dying animal.

Readers sympathize with Orwell because they can relate to his emotions in

the moments before the shooting. Being the white "leader," he should have been

able to make an independent decision, but was influenced by the "natives"

(Orwell 101). Orwell describes his feelings about being pressured to shoot the

elephant: "Here I was the white man with his gun, standing in front of the

unarmed crowd - seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was

only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind

(101). Everyone has been in a situation in which he or she has been expected to

be a leader. For different reasons people are looked to as leaders, sometimes

because of their race, ethnicity, or heritage. In this case, Orwell was pictured as

a leader because he was British and he worked for the British Empire. Readers

are able to relate to the fact that he does not want to be humiliated in front of the

Burmese. He declares, "Every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle

not to be laughed at" (101). Orwell compares the elephant to the huge British

Empire, and just as the elephant has lost control, he feels that when the white

man turns tyrant it is his...