March 25, 2015
Decision of life
In George Orwell’s brief memoir “Shooting an Elephant”, he records his experience of killing an elephant in Burma. He was an English sub- divisional police officer there. At that time the relations between the natives and colonists were tense. Natives often jeered at the colonists with a bitter “anti- European feeling”. One day, there was a report about a lost control elephant ravaging the bazaar. To see what was happening, he came to the place where elephant had appeared before, but instead of seeing the elephant, he saw a terrible looking corpse in the mud killed by the elephant. With a purpose to defend him if necessary, he wore a rifle while he was searching for the elephant. Excited crowd followed him thinking that he was going to kill the elephant. When the elephant was found, it was eating grass peacefully. His reason told him that he should not shoot the elephant and he should just wait its “mahout” to come to take it back. However, in order to get the meat of the elephant, the bystanders had a strong expectation of killing it. George Orwell also worried about the possibility of a humiliation of him from being killed by the elephant in front of the natives during waiting for its “mahout”. Eventually, with the pressure from bystanders and his fear of humiliation, he shot the elephant against his will.
I felt like Orwell doesn’t really want to kill the elephant; however, thousands of native people want him to kill the elephant because they want revenge and compensation, and in the end the policeman is forced to kill the elephant. In a way, the policeman doesn’t want to become a loser or he does not want to let-down the hopes of the natives. In order to do so, he has to persuade himself that it is right to kill the elephant, even though deep inside him, he knows that it is wrong, because the elephant is peaceful, and he doesn’t have the owner’s permission and the elephant is peaceful. He states, “As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him.” He, in part, knows that he is being deceived by the natives. He states, “I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. “Finally, in the end he states that it was better that the “coolie” had died because he had justification for the killing of the elephant-but we also know that deep inside him, there is still unrest and uncertainty; therefore, the act of