In “Shooting an Elephant” George Orwell is not liked by the Burmese people because he is the representation of their oppressors, the British. He gets his chance to be the hero when an elephant gets loose and causes destruction and the people need him to kill the beast. What would have happened if he didn’t shoot the elephant? Why Orwell feel so awful about killing the elephant? Orwell decides to kill the elephant, but does he do it for the right reason? In Rowel’s essay he talks about dealing with conflict within himself ND how he dealt with it.
He uses the example of when he had to shoot an elephant. The townspeople hated him because he ruled over them for the British, and they didn’t like him being a police officer in their home. However, Orwell had to help the people when the elephant got loose and destroyed part Of the village and killed a man. Orwell contemplated within himself on whether or not to kill the elephant. On the one hand it belonged to someone who had paid a lot of money for the elephant, but on the other hand the elephant was out of control and harming people.
In the end Orwell decided to shoot the elephant, but only as a way to show his authority with the British government so he wouldn’t look weak. Orwell contemplated the idea of not shooting the elephant and what would have happened if he didn’t shoot it. Orwell thought that if he didn’t shoot the elephant the people would have rioted against him and overthrown him. If Orwell didn’t shoot the elephant the people would have been upset, but rioting seems doubtful. Orwell felt that he was outnumbered by the Burmese people and needed to shoot the elephant to keep them at bay, but the Burmese people always outnumber Orwell.
It isn’t like not shooting the elephant would be the first thing he did that the Burmese people didn’t agree with. Fifth Burmese really wanted to overthrow Orwell then they would have overthrown him after the first thing he did to them that they didn’t agree with. When Orwell kills the elephant he feels terrible about killing the massive beast. He feels bad because he doesn’t know how to properly kill the beast and he only prolongs the animal’s torment by making its death more painful than it has to be.
Is that the only reason Orwell feels bad about killing the beast or is it because he connects with the beast. Orwell wreaks havoc in the Burmese people’s lives and they dislike him for it and they probably want to kill him as much as they want to kill the elephant. Orwell probably feels for that reason that he must kill the elephant in order for the hostility of the people to not turn against him. Even though Orwell gives his own reasoning for shooting the elephant, did he do the right thing? Orwell did the right thing by shooting the elephant, but he did t for the wrong reasons.
Orwell claims to have shot the elephant in order to keep the people from turning on him and overpowering him. Orwell should have killed the elephant as a way of proving to the Burmese people that he is there to help them not to rule over them. Granted, the Burmese people may still not like him, but it definitely would have been a step towards easing the tensions between the two of them. Instead Orwell shoots the elephant out of a sense of duty and thinks nothing of the people he shoots the elephant for.
Orwell goes through all this torment in whether or not to kill the elephant but in the end he decides to actually kill the elephant. He contemplates that the Burmese people might riot and turn against him if he doesn’t kill the elephant because it is his job even though the people do not like him. Orwell feels terrible about killing the beast because he can’t connect with it in a way as they both torment the Burmese people. In the end however Orwell could have used this situation as a way to gain favor in eyes of the Burmese people, but he instead he only kills the elephant as a sense of duty.