Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant”

George Orwell’s

“Shooting an Elephant”

Oh, to be hated so much by another that it brings one to the point of hating one’s own country, and what it stands for! How could one face every day with reticence, experiencing the shame and the self-loathing which accompanied every new day? Hating the populace around one’s self for putting one in a difficult position where one is expected to react in a certain way, without deviation. One fully realizing that the ideal of imperialistic colonialism is wrong, but having no voice in which to express those feelings, leaving one feeling alone and helpless is a by-product. Surely, Orwell did his job honorably, as was expected of a British soldier of his time, the same as is expected of any soldier in his time or today. Knowing full well that to do otherwise would lead to military court martial, and disgrace for himself and his family back home.

Orwell’s dilemma was whether to kill a placid animal (the elephant), or to be laughed at and ridiculed as a fool by the people he was set to keep control of. Orwell stated;

I could feel their two-thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. . . I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys (George Orwell, 2).

The same thing happens today to millions of people around the world forced to deal with westerners, with their set elitist ways, judging the lifestyles of who they consider to be of an inferior culture to their own. The real question is what right do we Westerners have to judge a culture much older than ours? A tried and true method of governance practiced for many hundreds or in many cases even thousands of years. The clash between cultures can result in all-out warfare. A people under the yoke of tyranny will eventually fight back against their oppressors. The United States is a good example of this very principle. The Declaration of Independence, exorbitant taxation on colonist’s consumption of every day necessities, and no right to representation in England’s Parliament, triggered the Revolutionary War between England and the fledgling country one day to be called The United States of America. A case study for the ages!


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