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How does Orwell in "A Hanging" use techniques to suggest his personal discomfort?"

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nrumsey | eNoter

Posted November 29, 2011 at 5:45 PM via web

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How does Orwell in "A Hanging" use techniques to suggest his personal discomfort?"

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 29, 2011 at 6:52 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the principal ways in which Orwell expresses his personal discomfort in this essay based on his experience as working as a colonial policeman in Burma is through his own response to seeing the humanity of the Hindu prisoner whose life they are about to end. Consider the following description that Orwell gives us after he has seen this prisoner display the curiously human response of moving to avoid a puddle as he is marched out to his execution:

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming — all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned — reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.

Phrases such as "one mind less, one world less" show Orwell's personal discomfort with what he is doing and the way in which he feels there is something profoundly wrong with taking the life of a man who is still so live "just as we were alive." This leads Orwell to contemplate "the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide." Orwell's personal discomfort is thus clearly shown through raising the huge moral concerns of what it means to take somebodies life when they are still very much alive.

 

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