Shooting an Elephant: The Dependance of Our Choices on Social Norms

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Why are we supposed to follow what others want and not choose for ourselves for once? In “Shooting an Elephant”, george orwell states a memory that made him realize the reality of the british Empire’s imperialism. Orwells allegiance to his job of being a police officer doesn’t let him see what is correct from wrong. Orwell decided to kill the elephant to not be looked down upon and strengthen his pride. He states that he hates his job because it causes him to do things that he doesn’t want to do and that go against his moral rights. Additionally in desiree’s baby by kate chopin we see the impact that bans on interracial relationships have on characters armand and desiree that between them stand a racial obstacle between them because it took place in the time period of slavery and segreation.

Desiree’s baby is set in the 1800s when the colonization in america was growing and slavery was part of everdady life. In the deep south where the story took place the people were close minded about the black race and interracial relationships which were less to occur. In this time period the white men were represented as powerful figures of society and had control over their family lives. According to steve f.lawson in his freedom story he says “ in the 1800s racial segregation was a system that derived the white americans to keep african americans in subordinate status by denying them equal access to public facilities and ensuring that blacks lives apart from whites.” we can see that in this era of slavery the african americans in the south werent considered to have the same rights as the white only because of their color which decided whether they were high status or low status. We can see this in Desiree’s baby because the mother and her child are surrounded by hatred and prejudices during this time period. Desiree falls in love with a man named armand and get married immediately. Unfortunately the happiness ends when desire gives birth and the child comes out with a darker skin tone and for armand the love fell off quickly. Armand decided that he no longer loved desire and the reason for it was because of the baby skin tone that stood as a barrier between them. For armand the racial history is what influenced him to reject the baby and desire. Desiree’s baby was written in november 24, 1892 which took place in southern louisiana before the american civil war. In this time period of racial prejudice and racism was well known to have an association throughout american southern states. The black people in this time period were not considered as a human being but were all put under the same status which was slaves. The moment when armand tells desire to leave is almost correspondent to when a black slave wasn’t able to satisfy his master needs correctly the response of the master would be to kick the slaves off the plantation just like armand did with desire.

The minute desire wasn’t able to satisfy armand with what he wanted he decides he had no use of her and he kicked her out like a slave. We can see how the setting and time period of slavery and segreation had a huge impact on armand character and his choice to put his reputation and staus first because that in that time period black people were considered slaves and armand didnt want to be signaled for having a black baby which at the end it turned out that desiree had no fault in the baby color but it was armand who came from interracial family background. On the other hand in the story shooting an elephant the author orwell purpose was to state clear on the attack on imperialism and its evil cruelty actions based on his own experience when he was working at burma under the authority of the british government. For example yeats brown admits that during imperialism“sometimes i had a sense of isolation of being caged white monkey in the zoo whose patrons were incredibly numerous”. Guhua argues that what years browns is anxiety which he says “can be experienced by anyone who perceives their environment in the case where of colonial administration both by the separation of the rulers from the ruled and by the absurdity of britain’s claim to have the authority”. This point guhua bring about anxiety is the same thing we can see in shooting an elephant which is the theme of this story. For example he writes of an occasion where he was surrounded by a sea of yellow faces all insisting that he shoot an elephant which had been berserk but was no longer”.

This shows he was concerned about what the burmese people will think of him being ridiculous if he didn’t shoot the elephant. In this situation based off his emotion we can have an idea on how his feelings wasn’t fear but instead anxiety. Orwell describes his feelings about being pressured to shoot the elephant because of the problem of the authority that was being dominated by the crowd. As for him being british and be working for its empire he was expected to follow to do what seemed correct. The setting supports directly to the theme moulmein in 1920s was a british colony that brings us to the main point of imperialism. In other words if the setting had been in a different time period this situation would have occurred which is what the narrator tries to make the readers understand the system in orwells era. In addition according to mohammed sarwar alam he says “the imperialist have remained the same ultimate objective to rule and exploit the natives with their multifaceted dominance technological, economic and military”. This is what we can see this in the story shooting the elephant the pressure and the dominance of imperialism and how it affects the person. In this story we will be able to understand the perception of imperialism from what the author orwell narrates.


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