“Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell is a narration of an event he was involved in. Orwell was not fond of the situation he had been placed in, in this story. He is stuck between two decisions, having to decide which is worse. The main idea of this story is that the effect of the oppressor is not only on the oppressed but, himself.
Orwell was stuck between killing the elephant or, to not. He is to act as the villagers expect him to, which would be to kill the elephant otherwise he would look foolish. Orwell states, “… when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys” (Orwell 137). This concludes, that an oppressor is also affected when he is supposed to be controlling others.
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The story takes place in Moulmein, Burma, which was under British control at the time. Written in 1936, recalling an incident as an officer in town. During the story Orwell was called to handle a ravaging elephant that was destroying the market. After being called upon, Orwell began looking for the elephant, not intending to harm it. Upon finding the elephant, he requested an elephant rifle only to use in an emergency. This drew a large crowd, filled with excitement to see the elephant die. The crowd’s presence made Orwell feel obligated to kill the animal. So, Orwell decided to kill the elephant. Afterwards, he used the coolie being killed by the elephant to make his actions justifiable.
In conclusion, the narration shows that an oppressor can be affected by his actions as well. Viewed as an imperialist to the Burmans, Orwell had to act as he was expected to. This led to Orwell struggling with the pressure of the people, and the death of the elephant. Although, he was supposed to be in control he let the expectations of the others control his decisions, as he does theirs.