Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
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Why did Orwell shoot the elephant and how does he use this anecdote to illustrate his feelings about imperialism?  

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The British officer stationed in Lower Burma has absolutely no intention of shooting the elephant. However, a massive crowd of Burmese natives begins to gather around him after he attains a powerful rifle and searches for the elephant. When the British officer finds the elephant, the majestic beast is grazing peacefully on a plot of land and is no longer a threat to the village. However, the officer feels a massive amount of peer pressure from the native crowd to shoot the elephant against his will. Moments before killing the elephant, the British officer experiences an epiphany and demonstrates his understanding of imperialism by mentioning,

I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that...

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Kelvin Brakus eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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