The Theme Of Peer Pressure In Shooting And Elephant By George Orwell

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the story ‘Shooting and Elephant’ by George Orwell, who wrote in the third person, he explains how he shot an innocent animal because of a people who wanted revenge. At that time, Orwell was in Moulmein, in the lower part of Burma, where he was a city police officer. However, Orwell did not feel confident. He felt that he did not have the respect of others and in a moment he wanted to gain people’s trust. He is in a conflict between an elephant who escaped and a terrified people who wanted to be killed, however, if Orwell did not, they could call him a coward and did not have enough courage to do so. Although Orwell is afraid to tell him to do it so that people don’t consider him a coward, he feels guilty for doing so. This can be considered as ‘group pressure’ or ‘social pressure’, which is considered a direct pressure from people to follow their behavior, attitudes or even values ​​to shape them. There are also people in search of their own identity that we can mostly see in children and adolescents. However we can see it in adults or even in our society. These are problems that we have to deal with in our society.

Pressure can even affect our behavior, attitudes and our values ​​for better or worse. ‘Adults and teenagers often mold their behavior and opinions to peer groups; even when they know each other better.’ A recent study found that in ’24 groups of 4 children; between 4; 2 and 4; 9 years. Children often made their judgments fit those of 3 pairs, who had made obviously wrong but unanimous public trials. Just before from them’. As in the history of Orwell where he wanted the acceptance of the people who lived in the city. The elephant got scared and instinctively killed a human being and went on his way. When Orwell finds this scenario, he feels scared and in a fourth place intimidated by this animal that has just taken a person’s life. As a result, Orwell orders that he be given a shotgun, but it was only to defend himself from the animal, in case the elephant wanted to kill him. The town was also scared, because the animal had already taken its own life. People were looking for someone to solve the situation or else they would take it by their own hands. However, Orwell saw it as the perfect opportunity to earn his respect. Orwell was looking for the elephant when he meets the crowd in front of the animal that was scared and disoriented from walking lost. When Orwell sees him and looks him in the eye, he thinks the animal is probably harmless, but he is afraid. The crowd keeps shouting to avenge a being who has already died and the one who can solve it is the city police, Orwell. It was him or to make fun of people. I didn’t want to do it, but people shouted for justice. Orwell fires his two shots at the elephant’s heart. ‘Shot after shot in his heart and throat.’ Still, the elephant does not die. He decides to leave because he can’t stand the idea of ​​hearing that animal fight for his life when it was he who took it from him. You could say that Orwell never intended to kill him, but to take care of what people can say about him. This is how he changed his values ​​from being human to a killer of a frightened animal. Not only in children, but also in adults, we can see the pressure of doing things that others like to be accepted in society. Social pressure or group pressure can affect our environment to destroy us by pleasing others. This evil can be seen by people who do not yet know their identity as a human being and in search of being accepted. Orwell calls himself ‘uneducated’ and young, and points out that he still did not know his identity as a human being. He still couldn’t make his own decisions. Mainly we see these problems in young people and children, because they are in search of their identity and acceptance.

In search of our identity we can lose who we really are or where we come from, if we get carried away by the pressure of the group. ‘People are often influenced by others with whom they identify. They buy clothes similar to those of their peers, visit restaurants because their colleagues go there, and download music their friends listen to. By adopting the tastes of others, people show they belong to a specific group. This social factor, whereby people follow the behavior or advice of others they associate with, has been labeled in-group influence. It is not limited to product choice. ‘Orwell was not sure of himself even when he shot the elephant, he was confused by the screams of the Burmese wanting justice, while Orwell recognized that the elephant was a peaceful creature. The animal was cornered by a crowd thirsty for revenge and inhuman while Orwell was in a state of confusion in his mind. we can notice when Orwell says ‘It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery’ the view that Orwell had was very different from those of the Burmese; He had a war within himself for taking a correct decision. However, he wanted to be accepted, changing his values ​​for those of the Burmese. Orwell really lost who he was when he decided to behave like them because he could not take his own advice, even when he saw the e helpless animal. You can clearly see the lack of maturity that Orwell had by not doing the right thing. He didn’t lose who he really was but he lost his identity by changing it to a person who cried for being accepted. In search of making correct decisions, bad decisions can be made by following those of other people and not ours. This can be seen a lot in our society and in our young people shouting to be accepted and be classified. However, we lose more than we can find. In other hand, we can explore who we really are by developing skills and discovering that we like in other to make good decisions.

In summary, the pressure of the group can change our thinking when making decisions in our lives. Just as Orwell had to decide whether that elephant’s life or his reputation. As a result, pressure can greatly influence our behavior, only to feel accepted within a group of people. We can lose our identity by changing it to another that is not ours and making bad decisions based on others. One of the best ways to find us is looking for what we really like to do.


  • Haun, Daniel B. M.; Tomasello, Michael (2011). ‘Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children’ (PDF). Child Development. 82 (6): 1759–1767. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01666.x. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-0012-C434-2. ISSN 0009-3920. PMID 22023172.
  • Stallen, Mirre; Smidts, Ale; Sanfey, Alan (2013). ‘Peer influence: neural mechanisms underlying in-group conformity’. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7 (50): 50. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00050. PMC 3591747. PMID 23482688.


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