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george orwell shooting an elephant

 
 
a y
 
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 06:25 am
Why do you think the Europeans differ in their opinions about shooting the elephant in George Orwell's shooting an elephant
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Type: Question • Score: 3 • Views: 6,235 • Replies: 15

 
dyslexia
 
  2  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 06:31 am
But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. (Somehow it always seems worse to kill a large animal.) Besides, there was the beast's owner to be considered. Alive, the elephant was worth at least a hundred pounds; dead, he would only be worth the value of his tusks, five pounds, possibly. But I had got to act quickly. I turned to some experienced-looking Burmans who had been there when we arrived, and asked them how the elephant had been behaving. They all said the same thing: he took no notice of you if you left him alone, but he might charge if you went too close to him.

It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do. I ought to walk up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behavior. If he charged, I could shoot; if he took no notice of me, it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back. But also I knew that I was going to do no such thing. I was a poor shot with a rifle and the ground was soft mud into which one would sink at every step. If the elephant charged and I missed him, I should have about as much chance as a toad under a steam-roller. But even then I was not thinking particularly of my own skin, only of the watchful yellow faces behind. For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn't be frightened in front of "natives"; and so, in general, he isn't frightened. The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill. And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do.

There was only one alternative. I shoved the cartridges into the magazine and lay down on the road to get a better aim. The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun after all. The rifle was a beautiful German thing with cross-hair sights. I did not then know that in shooting an elephant one would shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear-hole to ear-hole. I ought, therefore, as the elephant was sideways on, to have aimed straight at his ear-hole, actually I aimed several inches in front of this, thinking the brain would be further forward.

When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick " one never does when a shot goes home " but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time " it might have been five seconds, I dare say " he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay.
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 07:56 am
@dyslexia,
man, I love Orwell
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 08:43 am
@a y,
a y wrote:

Why do you think the Europeans differ in their opinions about shooting the elephant in George Orwell's shooting an elephant


Well, kid, forget about the elephant for a second and think about how the speaker leads into the story. What differences between the officer and the Burmese are noted before the elephant is even mentioned?

In general, you need to think about what isn't said, the broader context. I think the big question is: what is the Imperial officer doing in Burma to begin with? The elephant is a metaphor--but remember, if you just parrot that to your teacher you'd better be ready to back it up. Else you'll look pretty stupid.
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 08:45 am
@panzade,
My English 101 students used to hate this story. And it wasn't like they were gonna pick up Animal Farm and give George a chance to redeem himself.
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 08:47 am
@Gargamel,
what do 101's know?

I didn't understand how good Orwell was in my acne years
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 09:53 am
One morning, George Orwell shot an elephant in his pajamas. How the elephant got in George Orwell's pajamas I don't know.
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 06:10 pm
@joefromchicago,
Right. And I understand he had difficulty in removing the tusks. In Alabama, the tusks are looser.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 06:11 pm
@Merry Andrew,
That was truly awful . . . i've contracted for you removal with extreme prejudice . . .
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 09:12 pm
@Setanta,
I don't know if Joe is man enough to admit it, but both his and my sallies were almost direct quotes from an ancient Groucho Marx routine.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 11:05 am
@Merry Andrew,
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 11:21 am
Nine minutes and fifty seconds ? ! ? ! ?

Jeeze . . . i didn't have that kind of attention span before computers . . .





(Actually, thanks Joe, i will enjoy this.)
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 11:26 am
@Setanta,
I've read posts by Setanta that go over nine minutes and fifty seconds I don't think I've regreted any of them.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 11:38 am
@dyslexia,
You need a speed reading course . . . or more discriminating taste in your choice of reading material . . .
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 11:58 am
@Setanta,
Just watch the first three minutes or so -- that's Groucho's description of his trip to Africa.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 May, 2009 12:03 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

You need a speed reading course . . . or more discriminating taste in your choice of reading material . . .
yeah but my Sally dog loves me.
0 Replies
 
 

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