In the short story "Shooting An Elephant," why does the fact that the Burmese hate the British upset the narrator?

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A British police official in Burma, the narrator is a questioning colonialist. He perfectly understands the Burmese resentment of the British, while at the same time he hates the petty harassments that the natives inflict on him and his compatriots. As an ostensible agent of control, he understands that the will of the crowd demands the death of the elephant despite his unwillingness to shoot the animal.

"Shooting an Elephant" depicts a cycle of resentment and violence, in part obvious, in part subtle. Obvious is the fact that, in oppressing the Burmese, the British incur their righteous wrath. Orwell spares little in his picture of the imperial order. The key to the moral content of "Shooting an Elephant" lies in a chain of identifications made by the narrator, beginning with his identification of the trampled Dravidian with the victim of the crucifix-ion.


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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The narrator, who most believe is Orwell himself, is upset because he has a lot of disdain for imperialism. He thinks it is unfair that the Burmese people are ruled by the British when Great Britain is so far away. He doesn't understand how a country so far away can even begin to understand the Burmese people. What upsets him even more is that he is an imperial police officer working for the British. The Burmese people hate him and he empathizes with their feelings because he hates what he does, he doesn't believe in the imperialistic rule set forth that he is being asked to enforce.

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avmurray | Student, Kindergarten | eNotes Newbie

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Like this comment for no reason. Lets see how many we get

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bobobobobo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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The narrator has a certain compassion for the Burmese, because he understands why the Burmese hate the British. They are ruled by a country far away, and aren't treated as equals to the British. While he also dislikes the way the Burmese treat him though.

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