Why is it a problem for the narrator to be a sahib?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator
This is a problem because it creates an immense gulf between the narrator, Orwell, who represents the British empire, and the natives who feature in the story. It leaves Orwell feeling isolated and frustrated. He does not like working for empire; he has to act out the role of the master and keep his distance from the natives while they in turn resent being kept under the yoke of imperialism. This political state of affairs complicates, indeed poisons ordinary human relations. There is great ill-feeling on both sides, and this essay brings it out very clearly. We get a vivid picture of Orwell, trying to do his job amid a hostile crowd, hating them as much as they hate him. In fact it might almost be said that the elephant - standing and eating quietly as Orwell approaches it - appears as the only dignified character.