Why is the dead coolie described in paragraph 4 of "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell?
George Orwell is a member of the Indian Imperial Police, and both as a white man and as a man with this position he is considered by the Indian people to be an oppressor. His short essay "Shooting an Elephant" recounts an incident which exemplifies both his position in this society and his own view of his position.
At the beginning of the narrative, a tame elephant has broken free in the panic of his "must" and is bulldozing his way recklessly through town. Because he is expected to as an official presence in the city, Orwell follows after the elephant to...well, to do something. He makes it clear to us many times that he does not want to kill the elephant and in fact he does not even have a gun with him, but he was rather shamed into doing something and off he goes.
What he sees does not move him to change his intent let to the elephant live, but soon he sees something that forces him to change course. He turns a corner and sees
a man's dead body sprawling in the mud. He was an Indian, a black Dravidian coolie, almost naked, and he could not have been dead many minutes. The people said that the elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the earth. This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony....The friction of the great beast's foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit.
Once he sees this, Orwell sends...
(The entire section contains 632 words.)
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