Summary of Shooting an Elephant

Narration: “Shooting an Elephant” To narrate is to describe an experience or a story that is linked in time. An effective narration “usually relates a sequence of events that led to new knowledge or had a notable outcome” (Aaron 60). George Orwell uses narration in “Shooting an Elephant” to support his thesis that imperialism is an immoral relationship of power because it compels the oppressor to act immorally to keep up appearances that he is right, just like his experience of shooting an elephant.

Orwell was called to the market after a working elephant escaped his handler and killed a man. (Rule#2)By the time he arrived the scene, the elephant was calm and has wandered into an open area away from the market. Orwell did not want to kill the elephant because it was calm and caused no threat. (Rule#1)He had never intended to hurt the elephant, but with everyone watching, he felt as if he could not let them down. Orwell states, “They [the crowd] did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching” (86).

Therefore, he pulled the trigger and killed the elephant. He was regarded as a wise ruler, but on the other hand, he knew that he was wrong in what he did. As a result, he finds himself doing whatever he must do, which in this case is to kill the elephant, to “avoid looking a fool”(89). (Rule#4)Orwell symbolizes himself as the British imperialists, who were the ruling authority in Burma, and the Burmese people as the elephant. Shooting the elephant is a symbolic of the English government’s relationship with the Burmese people.

By narrating the experience of killing an elephant, George Orwell presents a good model of narration. His narration brings out a notable outcome, which is his thesis that imperialist have to control their indentured servant by showing their power.

Work Cited Aaron, Jane E. , ed. 40 Model Essays. New York: Bedford/ St. Matins, 2005. Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant. ” 40 Model Essays. Ed. Jane E. Aaron. New York: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2005. 82-89.

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