George Orwell: Shooting an Elephant

Orwell's Allegiance and Concern for the Natives

Orwell represented a people who loved him too much, and despised him too, for his allegiance to the emperors of Europe, but that could not keep him from knowing and meeting the demands of the men of Moulmein, who are shooting the elephant, as mentioned in the following chapters.

Understanding the Natives' Worries and Feelings

Orwell's concern for the natives consumed him more than his nature as a white man, thereby causing him to shoot. Despite George's work with the British Empire, he still sympathized with the Burmese under the evil British rule. His feelings over the natives in a white man's territory make him understand the natives' worries and feelings hence motivating him to take actions. He looks at the two thousand natives and feels their irresistible wills to shoot the elephant that makes him feel weak and helpless in any other action rather than shooting the animal. He says, "I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind."

Desire to Impress the Natives

George Orwell's desire to impress a crowd of natives too motivated him in shooting the animal. The crowd was unarmed by the animal thus he could not only impress the natives by killing it but also giving them protection as his job demands. The natives expected him to shoot it and he submits to that because he wanted them to get satisfied. The Burmese always mistreated him because of his job as a police officer, but this instance gives him a chance to impress the natives by doing what they want, unlike the European masters' wants. The natives follow him to where the elephant grazed with excited shouts to kill the animal, which differed from Orwell's initial intentions thus compromising to their demands.


In conclusion, George Orwell shoots the elephant because of the natives' excitement and expectations that awaken his sympathetic feelings on the Burmese.

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