On the whole, one would argue that the colonial policeman—based on Orwell himself—is indeed justified in shooting the elephant. The simple fact is that, under the circumstances, he has no choice in the matter. The indigenous Burmese expect him to restore order even though he's a functionary of a colonial system that they heartily detest.
The policeman is caught on the horns of a dilemma that most people would find difficult to deal with. On the one hand, if he shoots the elephant then his conscience will be tormented. The policeman doesn't really want to shoot this magnificent creature, even though it's running amok. And the prospect of killing it makes his heart sink to his boots.
On the other hand, if he doesn't shoot the elephant, then not just his authority but the authority of British colonial rule will be seriously undermined. In both the short and the long-term this will make it much more difficult for the policeman to do his job, not to mention his fellow colonialists. The...
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