3 Answers | Add Yours
This is a difficult subject, but I can certainly point you in some directions.
First, do you trust the narrator? An unreliable narrator is a literary device used by some authors where the person telling us the story is not reliable because of bias or ignorance. In that case, the story may be skewed just because the author is filtering the world through a narrator who is not seeing the world accurately. You may want to look at whether an uneducated man raised inside an system of imperialism has the objectivity to accurately describe the system.
Now I don't have the historical background to really get into much detail in terms of Orwell's accuracy, but I would say that he focuses on the negative aspects pretty exclusively. Orwell mentions positive aspects of the culture such as playing sports only to draw the reader's attention to the fact that the referees and the spectators go out of their way to make fun of the narrator and deride him for being part of the system they see as oppressive. So, that seems to argue against the presentation being fair.
On the other hand, the narrator does not present just one side as having the correct answer. As much as the natives are demonized and collectively characterized and blood-thirsty people pulling the strings that control him, the Europeans are depicted negatively when he describes the "cowed faces" and "scarred buttocks" of the prisoners. The Europeans terrorized these people.
The first question you want to ask yourself is what perception you have of the East. Also, it is important to review imperialism. I think the view you may be seeking is more of what is thought of the imperialists then a generic "East". The main character in this essay is seen as an intruder and he is not respected. In fact, there is a certain irony here that he represent control but in reality, he decides to shoot the elephant out of fear of what would happen if he does not. He fears the crowd and its reaction. Therefore, who is really in control and you also see the level of resentment of the natives.
It is very hard for us to agree or disagree as we are not based in the same context or time as Orwell was. There are elements that can be compared to the East today, but at the same time we need to be aware of the way in which Orwell's view was formed by stereotypes of the "inscrutable Eastener" just as much as his own experience. Postcolonial critics such as Said would have a lot to say about his presentation of "the East," when in fact it is just as ludicrous to refer to "the East" and characteristics of this location as it would be to refer to "the West" and to talk of one type of person.
We’ve answered 288,036 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question