In this disturbing story, Orwell explores and accentuates the trauma suffered by those who participate in and witness the taking of a human life. The mood is somber and has a surreal quality about it. The almost matter-of-fact narrative indicates that the speaker wishes not to become too intimately or emotionally involved in the situation but does, however, finds himself in a position where he, unfortunately, seems to have no choice because it is his duty.
The seemingly exaggerated precautions taken to lead the condemned man to his execution emphasize the unnatural nature of the incident. The condemned man is frail, small, and offers no resistance but is nevertheless heavily guarded and bound. It appears that he has accepted his fate and is calm. In contrast, his would-be executioners are anxious and unsettled. Their discomfort is a further indication that they are not happy about committing a distasteful and abnormal act.
The prisoner's actions make the narrator realize the enormous brevity of life and brings into sharp focus our shared humanity. He insightfully grasps the fact that what is about to occur is a wasteful exercise. The disconcerting arrival of the dog and its playful acts deliberately contrasts the upsetting seriousness of an impending death with the exuberance of life. Its appearance unnerves the condemned man's captors because they are, at this moment, occupied with the business of death and do not want to be reminded of what life has to offer.
After the execution, the officers and others try to push the incident out of their minds by making jokes and laughing about previous executions. Their attempts are, however, a miserable failure. The tragic event of that day hangs on them like a heavy cloak, and even the superintendent's invitation that they should all have a drink does not lighten the mood. The repeated (almost hysterical) laughter of the narrator and the others illustrates how deeply traumatized they all are for having been party to an abomination.
In this story, Orwell adequately expresses his disdain for what he believes is a violation of all that is natural. Deliberately killing another human being for whatever reason is an atrocity and a crime against nature.