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What reasons does Orwell give for shooting the elephant?

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dinegirl89 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 24, 2010 at 1:45 PM via web

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What reasons does Orwell give for shooting the elephant?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 24, 2010 at 1:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Orwell says that he did not intend to shoot the elephant.  He only got the gun so that he could protect himself if need be.  When he actually saw the elephant, he became convinced that there was no point in shooting it.  But then, he found the main reason why he had to shoot it.  Here's how he puts it:

The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.

Because of this, he had to shoot the elephant.  He says he had to shoot it because that's what the natives expected him to do and he had to uphold the image of the white colonizers.  He had to appear decisive and resolute or else the natives won't respect the colonizers anymore.

 

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 24, 2010 at 7:30 PM (Answer #2)

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dinegirl89,

Orwell shoots the elephant because the two thousand native people standing behind him expect him to. They want vengeance for the man it killed, the meat the carcass will provide, and the entertainment of watching the shooting. “The people expected it of me and I had got to do it” (7), he writes.

There is an implication that if he decided not to shoot the elephant, both he and the empire would suffer a loss of prestige, but the main concern in Orwell’s mind is the “long struggle not to be laughed at” (7). He is even afraid to “test” the animal’s mood by going closer for fear it might attack and kill him before he could shoot, thus giving the crowd a sight it would enjoy as much as the slaughter of the beast.

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quddoos | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted October 7, 2013 at 3:09 AM (Answer #3)

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Orwell shoots the elephant because the two thousand native people standing behind him expect him to. They want vengeance for the man it killed, the meat the carcass will provide, and the entertainment of watching the shooting. “The people expected it of me and I had got to do it” (7), he writes.

There is an implication that if he decided not to shoot the elephant, both he and the empire would suffer a loss of prestige, but the main concern in Orwell’s mind is the “long struggle not to be laughed at” (7). He is even afraid to “test” the animal’s mood by going closer for fear it might attack and kill him before he could shoot, thus giving the crowd a sight it would enjoy as much as the slaughter of the beast.

                                       and

Orwell says that he did not intend to shoot the elephant.  He only got the gun so that he could protect himself if need be.  When he actually saw the elephant, he became convinced that there was no point in shooting it.  But then, he found the main reason why he had to shoot it.  Here's how he puts it:

The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.

Because of this, he had to shoot the elephant.  He says he had to shoot it because that's what the natives expected him to do and he had to uphold the image of the white colonizers.  He had to appear decisive and resolute or else the natives won't respect the colonizers anymor

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