What is Shooting an Elephant About?

Updated: November 28, 2022
The story is about a British colonial police officer in Burma who is forced to shoot an elephant against his will. The story is a metaphor for the British Empire's relationship with Burma.
Detailed answer:

The essay, “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell (1903-1950) tells the story of the narrator’s experience as a police officer in Burma. The narrator is called upon to shoot an elephant that has gone rogue, and he must decide whether or not to do so. Orwell explores how one man’s role as a police officer can influence his views on imperialism. During his time as a police officer in Burma, he faces many dilemmas about how to treat locals who are not British—dilemmas that directly relate to his own feelings about imperialism at large.
In “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell uses specific details to paint a picture of colonial life in Burma: “the long warm rains,” “the stifling dust,” “the ceaseless chatter of monkeys.” He also describes how he thinks about his role as a policeman and how it affects his relationships with others: “I was young then,” he says.
The essay explores themes such as imperialism, colonialism, racism and ethics. Its tone shifts between humorous anecdotes about the narrator’s time living in Burma (e.g., describing how his houseboy would steal gin from him), and serious reflections on how Western values have affected colonial societies (e.g., describing how some British people viewed themselves as superior).
“Shooting an Elephant” is one of Orwell’s most famous essays, and has been widely anthologised and translated. It was adapted into a film in 1987 directed by Richard Attenborough.

What is Shooting an Elephant About?. (2022, Nov 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/qa/what-is-shooting-an-elephant-about/