Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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

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

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narrator was not justified in shooting the elephant in Orwell 's short story and is deeply troubled by the entire ordeal. As a British police officer patrolling a region in Lower Burma, the narrator is an extension of the imperial regime and a figurehead of colonial authority. The narrator has no intention of shooting the elephant as he roams the streets looking for the beast that had terrorized the area earlier that day. As the British officer searches for the elephant, a massive crowd begins to gather around him. When the narrator discovers the elephant, it is peacefully eating grass and is no longer a threat. The narrator understands that it would be senseless to kill the tranquil beast. He also rationalizes that it would be a waste of money to shoot the elephant, considering the fact that elephants are expensive, prized work animals. However, the British officer experiences peer pressure from the crowd to shoot the beast and has an epiphany before pulling the trigger. The...

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