close-up illustration of an elephant's face

Shooting an Elephant

by George Orwell

Start Free Trial

Topics for Further Study

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

The theme of sacrifice in ‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ is also evident in Orwell’s essay ‘‘A Hanging.’’ Read ‘‘A Hanging’’ and compare it with ‘‘Shooting an Elephant.’’ What elements do the two pieces have in common? What fundamental human traits do they explore?

The narrator of ‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ is an agent of the British Empire and is thus implicated in the ‘‘dirty business’’ of British imperial affairs. He is also a man of conscience. Discuss the narrator’s guilt. To what extent should he be condemned for participating in the shooting of the elephant? To what extent should he be vindicated for identifying the intricacies of the situation?

Despite being an agent of the British Empire, the narrator of ‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ deplores his role in the business of imperial colonization. Contrast this attitude with that of the character of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Is it possibly to theorize about the respective attitudes of the two authors toward colonization from their literary works?

‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ concerns mob behavior. Think of some other instances of mob behavior, either from real-life stories or works of fiction. Are the actions of the mob similar to those in Orwell’s account? Discuss the human tendency for people to resent the differences of others. How does this resentment lead to conflict and violence?

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

What Do I Read Next?