Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In "Shooting an Elephant," Orwell doesn't actually begin his narrative until the third paragraph. Why?

Expert Answers info

Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write1,017 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

It is important to recognize that Orwell's story about the elephant is itself meant to illustrate and illuminate his larger critique of Colonialism, and the effect that it has on the people charged with enforcing it. With that in mind, these earlier paragraphs play an important role within the structure of the essay. If you remove them, and begin with the narrative of the elephant, the essay loses much of its cogency, and its critique of colonialism becomes weaker as a result.

This section provides the reader with context, not just into Orwell's occupation as a colonial police officer, but also as to the daily realities of what that experience entails. He describes the disdain that the people in the colonized world have towards him and other colonizers, as well as the disdain which he himself feels towards them. It is from these foundations that Orwell can further build his case, using his example of the elephant as an example illustrating how the colonizers themselves can find themselves...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 716 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write1,086 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial