In "Shooting a Elephant", what does George Orwell conclued regarding the position of foreign authorities in a hostile country?  

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mrsbundy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Orwell concludes that foreign authorities have power by virtue of their military might and power, but they will never be liked by the people they oppress.  He realizes that his position seems secure because he has a gun, but that none of the people in the country like him, and that he is in fact quite vulnerable.  If the mob moves against him (and remember that Orwell, as a member of the British military, is a symbol of Britain), he will be killed regardless of his arms.  Orwell realizes that his position and his power, like those of England, are tenuous.

kc4u | Student

Working as the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Moulmein in Lower Burma, Orwell could see the indecent & uncivil attitude of the local Burmans to the representatives of the oppressive British Imperialism, he himself being one of them. His experience of shooting an elephant further revealed how the so-called superiority of the European authority was paradoxical & superficial than real & substantial. The local Burmans used to hate him, for they looked upon him as a sahib embodying an alien & coercive rule. Orwell was very much against the imperialist regime he still served, and had all sympathy for the oppressed. But he also disliked the uncouth behaviour of the locals.

With this contradiction deep within him, he went to some distant part of the town in response to the message received by him concerning an elephant causing havoc. He never killed a large animal like an elephant; nor did he know how to kill such a beast. Moreover, the elephant's temporary fit of madness was nearly over when Orwell at last chanced to locate it. But the two-thousand-strong crowd accompanying Orwell was very keen to see the elephant shot at by the sahib, having asked for a gun fit for the business. He was a member of the formidable imperialist power and a sahib who was under severe compulsion to prove his superiority before the eyes of the ruled. If he had decided to leave the place without shooting the elephant, the model image of the British authority would have broken into pieces. Thus devoid of a free choice, and imprisioned in his own false image of a sahib, he had to kill the elephant against his will.

Orwell's essay works out his experience of shooting an elephant to show how foreign authority in a hostile country is not only disliked by the native population, but also the authority gets imprisoned in its own image so that the collective will prevails over the will of the individual.