Critique of the Narrator in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell
When I began to read the essay Shooting An Elephant by George Orwell, I did not like the Narrator. The Narrator is working as policeman working for the British in the country of Burma, a colony of Great Britain. The Narrator begins the story stating that he believed that Imperialism to be wrong. The oppression that he sees everyday not to be a good thing. He is in constant confusion due to the injustice’s surrounds him. The Narrator does not like the Burmese locals. The Narrator does not like being in Burma. The Burmese people do not like his presence either. The locals harass the Narrator and make fun of him.
My conclusion at the end of the Essay was that the Narrator was a coward for shooting the Elephant. He only shot the Elephant because he did not want to be made fun off. He also was dealing with peer pressure from the huge crowd that was following him, I believed if the Narrator chose instead to not shoot the Elephant, he would have been held in higher esteem. Furthermore, he also had a choice to not work for a country that during the time, Great Britain held the most power.
The Industrial Revolution made it possible for a lot of countries like Great Britain to obtain a lot of money and power. These countries began occupying and colonizing different countries. There was a big gap between the haves and have nots. All imperialism fosters the annihilation of culture. It fosters racism and ethnic division. As I read the Shooting An Elephant for the second time, no date is given in the story. Imperialism did not end it is still going on today. Instead of bullets and brutality being the means at use, economics are being used at present. The views I had toward the Narrator began to change. The Narrator does give a little background of his feelings. However, did he experience feelings before he went to Burma hoping to make changes for the country of Burma for the better? Is the Narrator similar to a soldier that has joined the military with idealistic views to serve his country, as in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be disillusioned when the realities of war sunk in? The setting of the story might be different. However, today we still have countries being occupied by outside forces. It has never ended. I initially thought the Narrator was a coward but was he? The Shooting An Elephant opinion would be considered very differently based in present day no matter setting or the Narrator job as a Policeman representing his country.
The Narrator states “For at the time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job the better. The Narrator goes on to give an account of the brutalities he has witnessed. Prisoners in cages and scars on some from being flogged as punishment . My first impression was how could the Narrator continue on his assignment knowing it was wrong? He did not like the job. “As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can make clear. I believe the Narrator had so much self-doubt in himself and no clear direction on what to do. Secondly, he represented his country. Serving country and nationalism is taught to everyone at a young age. It was true during the setting of the story as it is today. Can a solider in the military just leave because of a job or duty that he or she is given. I believe the main reason is his desire to be liked and respected over rides any sense of guilt or morality he claimed to have.. “For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life trying to impress the “natives”. I believe after some thought that the Narrator is no different, he is not a coward. He is no different than any of us in his time or the present. We all have a desire to please and be liked. In school, we want to be liked by our peers, teachers and please our parents. Does that make the Narrator a coward?
Imperialism and occupation has never ended. Other means are implemented to oppress people, “The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it’s not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering.” The IMF and the World Bank was set up to make countries economically dependent for resources and finances. Furthermore most of these countries are third world countries. This is a new form of imperialism .
My conclusion is that I do not believe the Narrator is a coward. I decided this after I put it in present day situations. The elephant in the story represents Burma, a country that was victimized and oppressed. The Narrator represents the oppressor. He is an oppressor that goes along with a system that he has always know to be in place. Did he know how this would be when came to Burma. The policies that are put in place by governments I feel now more to blame.
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