George Orwell in the story narrates the entire process of killing an offensive elephant during the time he was a police officer in Burma. The story indicates how the narrators held a hesitant feeling towards Burmese. One may argue that he hated the Thyestean imperialism and he was angry at the evil spirited and yellow faced Burmese. One day the narrator was informed that the elephant, as usual, has lost control and he had to stop it from causing more injuries and damage. He requested for a rifle and armed to kill the elephant that has been crabbing to the public properties and even devitalizing the public.
The narrator together with a huge crowd of people had an ease time tracking the elephant that was calmly eating like cow, having no signs of “must”. It was apparent that the narrator was not going to shoot the huge elephant. Instead, he decided to call the mahout to chain the animal back to where it belonged. However, the surrounding crowd was not agreeing with the narrator. They were anxious to see the misbehaving elephant being shot.
If the elephant was not shot, there would be sneering and jeering that would cause more execution than trample of the extraordinary elephant’s foot. However, the narrator felt that this would deteriorate his position as an officer. He at last fired the gun thrice aiming the point where he thought was the weak point of the animal, but it took almost half an hour for the huge animal to die. The following paragraphs illustrate reasons why I can relate to the reading.
One of the reason I relate to the “Shooting the Elephant” is that the story illustrate a man being killed because of the elephant’s sexual desires. As stipulated in most of the human rights around the world, when a man kills another man, he/she is destined to death or being sentenced to life imprisonment. Therefore, the elephant in the story could also face the similar form of punishment. The elephant tragically took the dreams of the man away. The dean man had a life to live but all was taken away.
This is applicable to the real life where wildlife is more valued to human lives in most of the countries. For instance, in most African country, when an animal kills a human, less or no measures are taken but when the local people take the life of animal, people faces the law. Similar to the narrators illustration, the villagers are left helpless and has no defense against the animals, they only relies on the government when such an incident happens. The Burmese residents held no weapons on any preventive measure to handle the elephant destruction.
Another reason why I selected the reading is that I have a strong negative feeling against imperialism. This is because the book enhanced the fact that through this regime, both the conquered and the conqueror are destroyed. The narrator illustrates disapproval with the colonial Britain. “I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British”. I also perceive that the conqueror is not the one to take the control, but it is rather the willpower of the public to govern the situations.
Although the narrator had not had the wish to kill the animal, despite having a gun as an added advantage, he realized that he has to go against his conscious. This is because; people around him were more authoritative than the government he served at that particular moment. This shows that the willpower of the public should be more considered than the colonial government. Similar to many patriotic, the narrator had a feeling that he was being used as puppet by the authority of yellow faces behind him.
Another justification of the “Shooting the Elephant” is to provide a measure of respect and order within the society. In the context of the story, the presence of the British has to be kept where discipline and respect are always sustained. However, the anarchy that would be it produced would make the codes and laws, which would be difficult to enforce.
The narrator stated that “the people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills press me forward, irresistibly”. This illustrated that if the narrator did not shot the elephant, the whole society would turn on him and put all the blames on him. The villagers would act upon him and turn everything into chaos. This shows that the villagers respected the officer because they could not take the law in their hands, they waited him to act on their behalf.
However, the narrator, like any other patriot, realized that the British colony was useless and utterly void. He had to respect the will of the villagers and had no other choice rather than killing the animal. "And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the east”.
In order to conserve the common good, the narrator had to go against will. This is an act of a patriot, who would rather go against the law formulated by the government, which he serves, in order to satisfy the will of the society. This shows that the narrator was able to measure the respect and discipline within the community since he did not leave the society worse off.
Orwell is giving a clear insight of the responsibility of a true patriot. Some of the quality that were possesses by the narrator are the qualities of true patriotic. For instance, the narrator was justified morally and regally by the standards of the British rule to carry out the actions he committed. The act of killing the elephant was not only viewed, as a measure of keeping peace and order in the society but also satisfaction of the societies will. In addition, the starving community celebrated the free meal from the elephant’s meat.
The narrator initially felt that he was committing wrong but it turned out to be a good thing. Similar to the narrator, the people in the authority should able to balance the moral and the ethical code with their line of duty. To prevail the order, preserve common goods and preserving peace is not the duty of an officer alone, it is a duty that should be performed by all human being. The social welfare is the most significant value that can improve the lives of many. Therefore, we should all participate in achieving this value for the better future.