In "Shooting an Elephant", does a government official seek to distance himself from an official killing by using euphemisms?

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troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A euphemism is just using pleasing words to cover up something that is quite ugly or awful.  There were no pleasing words or euphemisms used in the killing of the elephant.  He goes into detail of the suffering of the elephant after it has been shot several times.  "He sagged flabbily to his knees" and "The tortured breathing continued without a pause.  He was dying, very slowly and in great agony."  These quotes preceded and followed the explanation of him shooting the elephant 3 times.  Afterwards he fired more shots at his heart.  This scene is very graphic.

He even states that in the end he could not stand to stay there any longer.  It took the massive animal over a half hour to die, so he later heard.  This was a gruesome killing for the narrator.  He did not want to kill the elephant, but his duty forced him to, along with his pride.  The most significant factor was that he didn't want to be laughed at. 

This ties in with the theme explained in the first part of the following link.  He works for what he despises, yet the people of Burma hate him.

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Shooting an Elephant

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