Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What seems to be Orwell's attitude toward the Burmese?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,531 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Orwell appears to empathize with the native Burmese in a way that most of his fellow Englishmen would probably not. He knows that the Burmese have a profound contempt for colonial authority figures such as himself—men in uniform whose job it is to keep the peace and maintain good order. And to a considerable extent, he understands why they feel the way they do. At the same time, he's still a member of the colonial police force; his personal feelings on the matter can't enter into it. He still needs to do his duty, however much contempt it will earn him among the indigenous people.

Caught between his public persona and his private self, Orwell is unable to see the Burmese as they are. Just as they cannot see the man behind the uniform, he cannot see the real people behind the contemptuous glares he sees on a daily basis. His position as a colonial functionary has distorted his whole perspective to the extent that he cannot, dare not, see the Burmese as fully human. Whatever his private...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 946 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,439 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

teachsuccess eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial