Shooting an Elephant Short Summary
“Shooting an elephant” is a book that narrates George Orwell’s experiences while working as a law enforcement official in Burma. This is when the country was under British colonial rule. At the onset of the narrative, the author explicitly explains how he is against the colonization and experiences an inner war.
As an officer on the ground, he is a manifestation of the occupying imperial power. As a result, the Burmese revile him and frequently harass or mock him. However, Orwell does not know how to react to such jibes. He, therefore, tries as much as possible to avoid situations exposing him to ridicule.
Most of the story revolves around a certain day, whereby his inner battle fully comes into play. An elephant has broken loose and is wreaking havoc on the villagers. As an officer, George Orwell decides to check what is going on. However, he does not have any intentions of harming the animal.
Upon arriving at the slums, he witnesses the mess caused by the elephant. It has killed one person. Orwell then gets an elephant gun and tracks the animal to the paddy fields. There, he finds the big elephant grazing. Though he does not want to kill it, the massive crowd wants it dead.
It is at this moment that Orwell realizes that colonizers are bound to the people they colonize. The locals are anticipating the spectacle. In case he fails, he will betray his semblance of power, and will also be ridiculed. Therefore, the colonial empire operates based on avoiding personal humiliation.
He manages to take several shots at the elephant fatally wounding it. The Burmese then swarm in for the free game meat. Though he was absolved of any guilt by the law, there was a contentious debate on whether he did the right thing or not.