Was the narrator in "Shooting an Elephant" justified in shooting the elephant? Could the situation be handled in any other way?

Expert Answers
cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator himself admits in the end that he was not justified in shooting the elephant. He knew that he only did it to keep from looking like a fool. Others said he was justified because it had killed a man, but the narrator knows the truth. The elephant was no longer harmful - it's attack of must had passed. Before he shoots the elephant, the narrator says he knew he should just leave it alone and its owner would retrieve it when it came back. The narrator only shoots the elephant because of the force of peer pressure and his fear of being laughed at by the Burmans. This reason is not justifiable.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator feels that he had no choice in shooting the elephant. He feels guilty for the act, because at this point, the elephant had halted his maniacal rage, yet , ultimately, he knew that it was his duty to take the elephant out.

The crowd, which hated the British intrusion, would have accepted no less. It was important that the narrator appear strong and in control in the face of such strong adversity.While there was certainly the other option-not shooting the elephant-for the narrator, this was the right one for the time.