What reasons does Orwell give for the shooting of the elephant in "Shooting an Elephant"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Orwell was a sub-divisional police officer of the British Empire in Burma when it was a colony under British rule. He was hated by the Burmese, who understandably resented his imperial presence. One day, he received a call about an escaped tame elephant ravaging a local bazaar; it had already destroyed stalls, a home, livestock, and a van. Even worse, the elephant had killed a man. Orwell notes, “As soon as I saw the dead man, I sent an orderly to a friend’s house nearby to borrow an elephant rifle.” This request grabbed the Burmese people’s rapt attention. When Orwell saw elephant peacefully eating in a paddy field, he approached it, and it seemed like “the whole population of the quarter” followed him as eager spectators to watch the shooting. He commented, “It was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd; besides, they wanted the meat.”

Orwell actually had not intended to shoot the animal, but carried the rifle in case he needed it for self-defense. He...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 937 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on