Compare/contrast how John of Brave New World and the narrator (George Orwell) of Shooting an Elephant were outcasts in their society.Also how were their thoughts different from the societies they...

Compare/contrast how John of Brave New World and the narrator (George Orwell) of Shooting an Elephant were outcasts in their society.

Also how were their thoughts different from the societies they lives in? John in Brave New World and Orwell in his essay opposing the British Empire.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John and Orwell are naive heroes who are caught between two contrasting worlds.

John is an outcast in two societies: he comes from the primitive micro-culture into the progressive macro-culture.  First, he is alienated by the Savages in New Mexico.  Unlike the primitives on the reservation, John reads Shakespeare, and he sees the largely white Elizabethan world as his Utopia.  When he is found by Bernard and Lenina and taken to London, he is at first mesmorized by the sexual freedom of the World State.  Two catastrophes, Lenina's rejection and his mother's death, seal his tragic fate, and he suicides.  Like a Shakespearean tragic hero, John makes a series of stubborn decisions that lead only to tragedy.  He had rather take his own life than be witness and puppet to the abuses of freedom in the Utopia.

Orwell, on the other hand, moves from the progressive macro-culture into a primitive micro-culture.  He, like John, follows along with the role he has been assigned: he puts on a show of power for the natives.  A naive character, he later regrets killing the elephant, but instead of taking an unbending series of rash decisions, Orwell learns from his mistakes and confesses them in the story, thus preventing tragedy.  His story, though a coming-of-age tale, does not offer explicit solutions to the imperialism problem.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow, hard question...

They are both outcasts in "their" societies (not really their societies, but foreign societies that both have been put down in) but for very different reasons.

John is an outcast on moral grounds.  He holds a different set of moral and ethical values than the society does.  Orwell was an outcast on ethnic/political grounds.  He is an outcast because he represents the colonial power.

John's thoughts are different from the rest because he has what we would think of as conventional values (love your family, faithfulness to a spouse is a good thing) while the rest of the society has these values that are the result of their loss of humanity.

Orwell thinks differently because he is in a different position than the Burmese.  He is supposed to be ruling them and he is supposed to be superior to them.  He has to think in ways that will allow him to stay in this position.

Now that I say this, I worry that you are talking about Orwell compared to English society.  Are you supposed to be comparing him to other English people or to the Burmese?  Let me know.

I hope this helps...  good luck!

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Brave New World

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