“Shooting an Elephant” Response Paper
In the story, Orwell makes a tough decision of whether to kill the elephant or let it live in front of a thousands of Indians. Although he does not like the idea and finds it unnecessary to shoot the elephant, Orwell goes ahead and shoots the animal in order to satisfy the expectations and desires of the Burma society. As a police officer who has never been perfect, he decides to prove his European credibility as a controlling officer while on the other hand; he fails to stand by his own decisions (Orwell 31).
He kills the elephant not from his own will but due to pressure from the people. He seems controlled by the society and not able to make his own decisions. His intent of using the rifle he poses is to scare away the elephant but not kill it. This proves that were it not for the crowd of people who pressured him to go ahead and kill the animal, by himself, he could not have done such an act since he clearly says that he does not condone killing of helpless animals. To save his reputation as a police officer and more so a white man, he decides to kill the elephant against his will since he views it as murder. Evidently, he shoots the elephant because he has to shoot it. Although the thought of shooting the elephant hurts him and is against his morals, he goes ahead and shoots the animal (72). The reason behind his act is fear. He fears making a fool out of himself in front of the natives. He fears mockery from the natives. He fears seeming frightened in front of the natives he is bound to serve and protect from any kind of injury.
The story evidences the power of peer pressure on Orwell. It is through peer pressure that he shoots the elephant. As the natives and towns people follow him, basically egging him to shoot the animal, he is left with no any other option rather than kill it and save himself shame from the people. Arguably, he feels the pressure of seeming a fool versus not. Orwell ends up in a situation where he does an act against his own accord. He does it to please the native but the question remains; what do the people really think of him? Do they really understand the reason as to why he kills the elephant though it is against his will?
His judgment of killing the elephant however is not justifying. Although he had to kill the animal, the reason why he killed it does not justify his actions. It is evident that the elephant was a threat to the safety of the natives in the society and more so a dangerous and unpredictable tool that could have led to the death of another person unless brought under control (102). His decision to terminate the life of the animal is to save his own reputation but not the life of the natives. His act therefore does not prove his loyalty to the people. Although he was a weak leader who was not able to stand by his decisions and needed admiration from the natives, the way he managed to solve the problem was not at all good. He ought to have stood by his roots, explained his actions, and proved to all that he was willing to be a good leader.
Orwell, G. Shooting an Elephant. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2009. Print.