Orwell begins the story by telling the reader about the political situation in Burma. He relates his feelings about imperialism and how, even though he is a colonial policeman, he feels sympathy for the Burmese people being ruled by a country of people so far away. He also talks about how difficult it is to be a policeman in British Burma because everyone there hates him because of his association with the police. He sets the reader up to instantly feel sympathy for his plight in life.
When he gets the call about an elephant gone mad on a murderous rampage he immediately answers the call. Upon approaching the elephant he sees that it has calmed down, even though he has seen the body of the trampled man. He knows how valuable elephants are to their mahouts and he feels like the elephant will be fine if left alone.
His internal battle ensues when he feels the hundreds of eyes of the natives watching him, silently urging him to shoot the elephant anyway. They see it for its valuable commodities they can use and sell if and when it's dead. Since we already feel sympathy for Orwell, we feel how difficult his struggle is. When he finally shoots the elephant and the elephant is suffering we feel bad for Orwell because his hand was almost forced.