In the essay "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell , the narrator recounts an experience he has while serving as a police officer in Moulmein, a town in Lower Burma. He explains that because he is a European, the Burmese despise him. They shout jeers and insults at...
In the essay "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell, the narrator recounts an experience he has while serving as a police officer in Moulmein, a town in Lower Burma. He explains that because he is a European, the Burmese despise him. They shout jeers and insults at him and even trip him when he played soccer. This confuses him because he sympathizes with the Burmese and their plight. He has decided that the British are oppressors and that the subjugation of the locals is wrong. Sometimes the harassment of the Burmese is almost more than he can bear.
One day he receives a phone call that a crazed elephant is running loose in the village. He grabs a rifle, jumps on a pony, and goes to investigate. The elephant has been wreaking damage and killed a local. The narrator sends for a larger rifle and continues on foot. When he catches up with the elephant, it has calmed down. The narrator does not want to kill it, but he senses the mood of the huge crowd behind him and does it anyway because that is what he is expected to do.
The tone in a work of literature reflects the writer's attitude and feelings toward the subject he is writing about. The author's choice of words and phrases determine tone.
The tone in "Shooting an Elephant" is a mix of different attitudes and feelings that reflects the emotional conflict inherent in the author's situation. For example, the tone expresses the author's frustration due to the complexity of the political and social situation. The tone expresses the uncertainty the author feels between his sympathy for the Burmese and his duty to the British. The tone expresses the author's helplessness against powerful social forces that pull him in opposite directions. The tone expresses the author's anger at the British for their colonial policies and at the Burmese for their harassment. Finally, the tone expresses the irony that the author is forced to act contrary to his personal beliefs by both the British and by the Burmese.