It could be argued that the purpose of “Shooting An Elephant” is to reveal how imperialism affects those who live in conquered countries. This story takes place in Moulmein, a town in Burma, which became a British colony in 1824. From the opening lines of the story, it is clear that the Burmese hate their role as a subjugated people. Just look, for example, at how they treat Europeans: they spit on women’s dresses and insult, jeer, and even trip up Orwell during a football match. Since they cannot riot against the British for fear of reprisal, they express their anti-imperialist sentiments in small ways.
Later in the story, the reader gets a sense of why the Burmese feel such anger and resentment towards the British:
The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been Bogged with bamboos.
Orwell does not hold back. His description of life for these prisoners is vivid and...
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