Orwell's tone in the last paragraph of "Shooting an Elephant," is wry and sardonic as he recounts different responses to the killing. The owner of the elephant is the only who comes near to grasping the significance of the act: he is infuriated, but as the narrator so coolly states, he has no power:
he was only an Indian and could do nothing
As the narrator also sardonically points out, he himself was in the "legal" right for shooting a supposedly out-of-control animal.
The narrator continues by saying the European reaction was "divided." All the European opinions, however, miss the point. The older men simply close ranks and support one of their own. The younger men, however, say it was too bad he had to kill the elephant because it was worth more than a "damn coolie" or Burmese. This shows how they are either pretending to a silly bravado (playing their role) or lacking in empathy for the people they rule. Finally, he himself decides he was "very glad" the "coolie" had been killed because the death spared him from any trouble he might have gotten into. He ends by wondering if anyone guesses that the only reason he had shot the elephant was to avoid looking like a fool. Finishing sardonically on the word "fool" causes that word to linger in the reader's mind, and emphasizes the paradox that he did something foolish merely to avoid appearing foolish because he was caught up in a corrupt system.