Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Describe Orwell's feelings toward the Burmese people and the imperialist British while he works as a police officer in Burma.

Expert Answers info

Erin DuBuque eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write995 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In the classic essay "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell, the narrator, presumably Orwell himself, works as a police officer in Moulmein, a city in Burma, during the era of the British Raj. He receives orders to track down a rampaging elephant. He eventually shoots it, but he thinks that killing the elephant is unnecessary, and its suffering grieves him.

Orwell makes his sentiments clear early in the essay. He sympathizes with the Burmese and feels that the imperialism of the British is evil.

For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically—and secretly, of course—I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear.

He then explains in more detail the guilt that he feels when he sees Burmese prisoners in filthy lock-ups, their buttocks scarred from beatings with bamboo...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 737 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Name VonRueden eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,573 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,234 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial