Shooting an Elephant

Tony Earley states “a good story is about the thing, and the other thing. The second thing looks like the first thing, but it’s something else”. Earley’s idea can apply to Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant”. In this scenario, the two “things” are imperialism and the elephant. Orwell clearly and precisely proves Earley’s theory (per say) in his essay. The title lets the reader know that there is an elephant involved. When the essay is first read, the title does not fit in with what it’s referring to. Imperialism and the elephant are well put into each other, but at the same time, the two are different things.

The elephant does not appear until a long introduction about imperialism, hence the two things. They fall into each other, but are not exactly the same. Orwell blends both of the two things together throughout the essay. The transition is actually in paragraph 3.

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He ends the imperialism statement writing that he detests working for the government in Burma. Everyone in Burma hated him, and what he did as his career. He states that after he was hated, he hated imperialism before. “For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up and got out of it the better” (851).

He did not like his job due to working under imperialism. Being a sub-divisional police officer, he needs to keep Burma safe from all violence and danger. After describing how much he hates the imperialism, the raging elephant incident occurs. “It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism-the real motives for which despotic governments act” (852). He was called in to see what was wrong with the elephant; the problem was that it was a tamed elephant gone “must”, meaning gone into sexual heat. Orwell states that it was enlightening.

I assume he is referring to the work of the elephant was something interesting that he did. As he wrote, it was a tiny incident in itself, but it helped him realized what the true government was and how they worked with issues occurring in the area. In this case, the issue was the elephant. In the conclusion of the life experience, Orwell shoots the elephant; he did not want to look like a fool to all of the people that were watching him. He had the power and authority to do so. The two things, the elephant and imperialism are the two things that Orwell uses. This essay is a perfect example that can be used to support Earley’s statement.

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