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Shooting an Elephant

by George Orwell
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In "Shooting an Elephant", what made the writer shoot the elephant against his will? How can you explain it?

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Orwell (Eric Blair) is speaking of a real life experience of his when stationed in Burma. The elephant run "must" was indeed a real danger; it had even killed a "coolie" (worker)and was likely to go on the rampage again.

Under these circumstances, killing the elephant was not as aberrant...

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Orwell (Eric Blair) is speaking of a real life experience of his when stationed in Burma. The elephant run "must" was indeed a real danger; it had even killed a "coolie" (worker)and was likely to go on the rampage again.

Under these circumstances, killing the elephant was not as aberrant as Orwell makes it out to be. However, he is clear in stating that his real motive was to meet the native people's expectations - to put an end to the situation at hand and to demonstrate and assert his power of control, representative and otherwise. So he shot it rather than waiting out the ordeal to see if the elephant could be brought under control otherwise.

I have wondered if Orwell didn't take such an arbitrary position against his own decision just to have a "meaty" essay to write. Misgivings and even growing resentment against British incursion  (via colonisation) into Burmese affairs were the order of the day. Owell himself withdrew from military service and eventually took an adamant stance against imperialism under the British flag.

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