The Elephant by Slawomir Mrozek

Essay by sparco April 2002

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The story starts with a description of the zoo director. "He regards his animals simply as stepping stones of his career. He is careless about the educational value of his establishment." Being in a remote town the zoo is not funded and therefore was "lacking all the important animals"; basically all they had were surplus. Alas, the zoo's anniversary is vast approaching, for they are getting an elephant! Instead of rejoicing the director was thinking of his career and decided to write a letter to Warsaw refusing the governments offer. He said that he has a more economical plan and would save the government a lot of money. Upon hearing the ministries approval the zoo director directed his men to blow up a large elephant-shaped and elephant-sized balloon. Being lazy, these men filled the elephant with gas instead of air, this later proved to be unwise. The following morning, the balloon was placed in front of a large real rock and a big notice said that the elephant is very sluggish and it hardly ever moves.

The scheme works fine until later, a gust of wind blows the elephant away. This is a story is a good portrayal of the 1960's Polish Communism.

I have experiences that could be likened to the story. I have seen corruption destroy a nation. Public servants are being served and spoon fed while the citizens are working like ants, barely surviving. What is this all for? To pay taxes, which in turn are the public servants salary, money often squandered for their own social lives. Instead of them trying to serve us, we the citizens serve them. These heartless, conscienceless, corrupt officials do not serve the public at all; all they long for is the fame, glamour and the money. Being corrupt, projects are...