In the essay "A hanging" why when the man does not step in the puddle does the other people see him as a human?why did orwell see the human side of the individual once he stepped aside from the...

In the essay "A hanging" why when the man does not step in the puddle does the other people see him as a human?

why did orwell see the human side of the individual once he stepped aside from the puddle?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the narrator reacts this way because this is the first thing that the prisoner does that shows that he is not just a machine and that reminds the narrator that this is an actual human being that he is going to help kill.

When the prisoner steps aside for the puddle, it is such a human reaction -- he is a regular person who does not want to get his feet wet.  At that point, the narrator is forced to notice his humanity.  If he had just kept walking straight to the gallows, he wouldn't have seemed so human.  But avoiding a puddle is such a human thing to do that it reminded the narrator of the prisoner's humanity.

mkcapen1 | Student

As the man is being escorted to the gallows he avoids stepping in the puddle as a habit, something implying that he is a socialized human being.  In the story he starts out as a brow figure covered with a blanket squatting down like all the other doomed people.  He is escorted to the gallows with little concern about his needs.

It is not until he engages in a socialized behavior that the author is able to see him as a human being.  Everything about the execution up till the event described the man as either a fish out of water or an animal in a cage.  He is now humanized. 

It is ironic that a dog can enter such a tragic scene and be so boisterous and peppy.  He provides a stark contrast between the death scene and his joy at having found people to be around and play with.  He even leaps up to lick the face of the doomed man.  This also serves as a way to humanize the man.