Shooting an Elephant Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
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What is the paradox in the story "Shooting an Elephant"?

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "Shooting an Elephant," there are a number of paradoxes. Firstly, in the opening paragraph, Orwell says:

As a police officer, I was an obvious target.

At first glance, this seems a false statement, as the majority of people would not target a police officer because of his social status and the legal implications of such activities. However, as Orwell's observations show, there is some truth to this statement since he was constantly baited and mocked by the local Burmese.

Secondly, there is another paradox in the following line:

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sedw12345 | Student

The main paradox involves the tyranny the narrator faces while imposing tyranny upon the subjects of the Empire.  The Burmese, the supposed subjects of the Empire, are the ones who control, and later force the narrator to shoot the elephant against his will. They control him and his views with ambivalence, having the narrator both care for their safety and side with their position against the Empire, while at the same time hating them, to the point that he wants to put a bayonet through a Burmese monk. 

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