In Orwell's  "Shooting an Elephant," what is the Burmese attitude about imperialism?

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sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Shooting Elephant.  In the first sentence of the story the narrator is explicit about the Burmese attitudes toward him as a representative of the imperial power:  “In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me. I was sub-divisional police officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti-European feeling was very bitter.”  He goes on to say how people spit on him, jeer at him, and generally insult him.  On calling him to shoot the elephant, they are in a way testing him, which is why he carries out the deed:  to try to save face in a hopeless situation that he finds morally wrong and constantly embarrassing.

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renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The Burmese people do not like imperialism, to say the least. The industrialized British have occupied the poor Burmese territory without the acceptance of its people. The Burmese truly hate the British people for being in their country, and the British are extremely condescending of the Burmese people.

There is an uneasy existence between the two. The narrator is uncomfortable with his role in the situation. He realizes he is being mocked by the Burmese people with regards to the elephant, and in the end feels pressured to shoot it because of their animosity.

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