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Shooting an Elephant

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In Shooting an Elephant writer George Orwell explains his situation and emotions during his role as a police officer. Orwell explains his own struggles of frustration with the people of his town, and dislikes of the Imperialism that surrounds him. Orwell explains his experience in detail of his requested assistance to help the very people who had hackled him thought out the years. According to Orwell this was "a tiny incident in itself" however passionate, he has internal struggles with helping these people. His desire for respect not only as a European but also as a police officer had forced him to make decisions that he would never forget and that would forever change his life. While this reading makes one think of their own internal struggles we encounter in our daily lives, it also makes one wonder what effects come from our peers and their opinions of us. Orwell never would have never shot the elephant without the encouragement and urging of the towns people. The elephant had indeed cause a lot of chaos, however Orwell states "I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have." There were possibly other options in tending to the elephant; Orwell was dealing with a town full of people behind him screaming for him to do something. The towns' people had never shown any type of need for him before this, and he wanted so badly to have the respect as a police officer and to be accepted. The greater good within Orwell, was absent within him and his actions showed to be for his own selfish desires.

Unfortunately, after the dreaded first shot, Orwell realized the elephant was not going to die quickly; in fact, the elephant was suffering. Orwell then felt forced to fire several more shot into the elephant, with every shot a piece of him dying along with the elephant. Orwell stating that "it was dreadful to see the great animal lying there, powerless to move and yet powerless to die."

Ultimately, Orwell expressed disgust with his own actions as well as the way the towns' people had responded to the shooting, that he left the scene. There were many talks throughout the town over the next few days that followed and Orwell was saddened to learn that it took the animal a half hour to die. Orwell justifies his actions by saying that the" elephant had killed a coolie" and that had given him sufficient pretext for killing the animal, regardless of what some towns' people were saying. Although many towns' people had cheered Orwell on, his shooting upset many. In the end, the towns' people and the opinions of Orwell shooting the elephant seemed divided. I believe that people in general throughout their lives have encountered choices to do things that they morally, ethically or religiously would not do normally, but with the pressure of his peers and the desire to be accepted may have been very overwhelming



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