The choices one is constrained to make can have long-lasting effects. In “Shooting an
Elephant,” written by George Orwell, writes a short story about a past event from his life when he had chosen against his conscience while serving as a British police officer in Burma. Orwell’s misery, moral dilemmas, and his pride prevents him from feeling satisfied and fulfilled with his life. Being apart of British imperialism that Orwell hated, along side of his job, and the hatred towards the Burmese natives. Orwell felt isolated and mentally weak being unable to share his thoughts on imperialism as being “evil” with his fellow partners nor with the Burmese. He observed “the dirty work of Empire at close quarters,” the cruel imprisonments that the British used to to enforce their control over Burma. An “utter silence” that was imposed on everyone is a result of the reasoning behind imperialism. The British thinking that they were different, believing their culture had more power than Burma. Therefore, the British were thought to have been superior, and that they were to rule Burma. No one was seen as being equal, an invisible wall divided them. Orwell’s hatred for the Burmese is caused by their bitter feelings against the
Europeans. He felt like an “obvious target” being a police officer, and that he was “baited” when not paying close attention. Being tripped by a Burman at a soccer game, “the crowd yelled with hideous laughter,” which hurt Orwell’s ego. He felt stuck between the hatred of the empire he was serving and rage towards the “evil-spirited little beasts.” His helping with oppressing the
Burmese caused him to feel guilty and to hate his job.
The moral dilemma that Orwell is faced with is that he must choose between two options.
He is notified about a tamed elephant under the influence of a “must” has broken loose and terrorizing, Orwell takes a rifle in hope the noise might scare off a potential charging elephant.
When finding that a coolie has been killed by the elephant he trades in his rifle for a much larger gun that was to be used for self defense. The Burmese who are following him assume that, since he now has an elephant gun he has decided to kill the beast. The crowed grows quicky to over two thousand natives. When Orwell sights the elephant, he “knew with perfect curtainty that I ought not to shoot him.” The “must” is leaving, and the elephant is peacefully eating grass.
Orwell “did not in the least want to shoot him,” knowingly that by doing so would be destroying a valuable and useful creature. The crowed of the Burmese silently demands a show, they expect a “sahib” to act without wavering. One options is to