Shooting An Elephant Thesis

What is the thesis of "Shooting an Elephant"?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you consider the thesis of Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" to be directly stated, you probably want to point to a sentence in paragraph seven:

...when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.

In the essay, Orwell describes how he lost the ability to act morally.  The elephant appeared to have already passed out of "must," and did not, at that moment, need to be destroyed.  Faced with the mob, however, Orwell cannot afford to buck the mentality of that mob.  The mob is waiting for some excitement and entertainment, and he cannot afford to disappoint its members.  As Orwell describes the scene, the fact that he is surrounded by locals is emphasized, and this highlights the overwhelming numbers of people that must be controlled by a relatively few British.  Orwell cannot afford to show any sign of weakness.  Thus, he feels, he is forced to kill the elephant.  He loses his freedom to act morally.

If the thesis is implied, rather than directly stated, then it deals with a similar but more detailed thought.  Based on the description of the locals, we see that they, too, have been changed by imperialism.  The Buddhist monks, for instance, seemed to have nothing "to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans," according to Orwell.  If the thesis is implied, therefore, it deals with the idea that both the colonizers and the colonized are negatively changed by imperialism.  Imperialism comes at a cost to both imperialists and their victims.     


spiritauthority1 | Student

This would be my thesis statement from my point of view in regard to "Shooting an Elephant", The anger of man does not bring about a good and healthy relationship based on the love of God. Although God gave man dominion over all animal life, the killing of animals has a purpose that helps mankind. Mr. Orwell was upset over a lot of issues, self-preservation, pressure from the crowd, pressure from his government because of what resulted in oppression of other people.

spiritauthority1 | Student

The wrath of man cannot accomplish the will of God, if we will accept that the only true God is the Lord Jesus Christ! Reference The Book of God: It is His book... James 1:20;  or mans anger does not bring about the right standing of God. Righteousness is simply a right relationship with Almighty God.  Have you ever ventured to ponder the Father and Son relationship from the example of the life of Jesus Christ. If you can accept this evidence as historical fact, I would say there is a wonderful possibility that one could find that God is in truth, love. 1 John 4:8;  And His love never fails...1 Corinthians 13:8; See song lyrics Brandon Heath on intent is just to share the love of God for no other reason, that you might come to know Him!!!

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Shooting an Elephant

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