Quote 4 examples of imagery in Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" and explain their significance.

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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1. "The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups": George Orwell served in Burma as Assistant Superintendent in the British Imperial Police from 1922 to 1927. He describes the plight of the wretched Burmese prisoners locked up in the jails in the police stations. The prisoners were treated like animals and were kept confined in small cramped rooms in the most inhumane conditions. The phrase "the stinking cages" is a striking metaphor which vividly describes the  jails of imperialist Burma during Orwell's time.

2."The evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible": The Burmese who were oppressed by the British showed their hatred by harrassing Orwell at the slightest opportunity. The metaphor, "the evil-spirited little beasts" describes aptly Orwell's chagrin at being mocked at and harrassed by the local Burmese.

3."The friction of the great beast's foot had stripped the skin from his back: This simile, "as neatly as one skins a rabbit" describes very accurately the gruesome manner in which the elephant had mauled the body of the Indian coolie whom it had trampled to death.

4."It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant – it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery": The phrase, "a huge and costly piece of machinery" describes in a telling manner the utilitarian value and economic imoprtance of an elephant to the local Burmese in the timber business. The elephants were the only means of hauling the logs of wood in Orwell's time .

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