What motives does George Orwell give to shoot the elephant in "Shooting An Elephant"?

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The British police officer does not want to shoot the elephant but feels compelled to remain resolute and callous in front of the Burmese natives, which is why he ends up killing the elephant against his will. As an agent and representative of the British Empire, the officer is forced to act composed, resolute, and authoritative at all times. As the officer searches for the elephant throughout the village, a crowd begins to follow him and anticipates him shooting the beast. When the British officer discovers the elephant, it is peacefully grazing and no longer a threat. However, a massive crowd has formed behind him, and the officer experiences immense peer pressure to shoot the elephant. He then experiences an epiphany, and Orwell writes,

I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 692 words.)

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