Rachel Raymer, Instructor
English 111 00F
June 16, 2013
TO PROTECT THE VILLAGE OR TO PROTECT YOUR IMAGE
Author George Orwell tells the story of Shooting An Elephant (Orwell, 2013) where an officer in Burma who had been publically disrespected and heckled many times being called out on an emergency of a working elephant that was used to pull up trees and such had broken free of his chains and “gone must”. The man was quite uncertain if this was a real emergency or another form of public humiliation as he referred to it as “another pack of lies”. Nonetheless, he set out in search of this elephant with his 44 Winchester rifle in tow. He had a job to do, he had to maintain his employment even though it was one that he heavily despised and had been hoping he could be rid of. He had fancied himself with thoughts against the British Imperialists. As he made his way into the village he began notice he had followers. He had been given a lot of misinformation about the whereabouts of the elephant but marched on in search of it. “We began questioning the people as to where the elephant had gone and, as usual failed to get any definite information” He was told the elephant had already destroyed a bamboo hut, killed a cow, destroyed a van, and raided a fruit stand. He had no choice than to find the elephant and shoot it to preserve his respect and maintain his authority figure. Orwell found another reason to shoot the elephant as he noticed the women of the village protecting the children from seeing a man the elephant had just killed, “Go away, child! Go away this instant!” The man known as a Coringhee coolie, had died a very violently and within just a few minutes prior. At this time he sent for an elephant gun and sent his rifle back. He still had to make the choice of whether to kill the elephant or try to maintain it from causing any more damage to the village or people. The elephant gun soon arrived along with five cartridges, “they had seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I was going to shoot the elephant.” Orwell had located the elephant, not far off the road, tearing up bunches of grass, cleaning the wet soil off it by beating it against his knees, shoving it in his huge mouth, and eating it without a care in the world. It appeared as though the elephant had become peaceful. Orwell still was fighting himself over whether to let the elephant alone until its mahout could get there even though he was twelve hours away, since it seemed that the “must” was wearing down, he was becoming much calmer and it was a working animal and worth a lot more money alive than dead. Too many questions were going through his head, “but I did not want to shoot the elephant” or should I shoot it before anyone else was hurt or any more damage was done to the town. The elephant had already killed a man, caused a vendor to lose his livelihood, and caused someone to lose their shelter. That seemed to put more weight in on his thoughts of shooting the elephant. But none the less, he still had his hesitations.