Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In "Shooting an Elephant", what connection does Orwell assume to exist between being important and being hated by large number of people?

In "Shooting an Elephant", what connection does Orwell assume to exist between being important and being hated by large number of people?

Expert Answers info

Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,631 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The line that his experience in Burma was the only time he has ever been "important enough to be hated" is a bit sardonic, but it speaks to Orwell 's broader observation about the nature of empire. Orwell (or more accurately his narrator) is an imperial policeman. As such, he has no illusions about the British Empire. He knows that it is fundamentally about violence and power, and so do the Burmese people. This is one important aspect of the encounter with the elephant. When he comes across the elephant, it is no longer rampaging through the bazaar but is peacefully munching on grass. He does not want to kill the beast, but he knows that he has to because the crowd expects it. They have witnessed it trample a man to death, and they now demand that he, as the authority on the scene, shoot the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 441 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Elinor Lowery eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write381 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial