Power of the Oppressed in George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant

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Power of the Oppressed Exposed in Shooting an Elephant

In Burma, the Indian Imperial Police consisted of British officers who, in theory, supported the extension of power and dominion of a nation, which is the basis of imperialism. George Orwell decided to follow family tradition when he went to Burma to work for the Indian Imperial Police, yet "when he realized how much against their will the Burmese were ruled by the British, he felt increasingly ashamed of his role as an alien police officer" (Britannica). In his narrative, "Shooting An Elephant", George Orwell realizes that throughout his entire rule in Burma he is actually the victim of the Burmese, and it is their expectations of what he should do with his power that
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This perpetual rudeness towards all Europeans greatly irritates him, and he admits that "I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible" (310). Therefore, at the time in which his personal narrative takes place, he is unwilling to rush to the needs of the Burmese because of his resentment for them.

On that crucial morning when Orwell is notified about the elephant, he attempts to show his determination to be indifferent to the needs of the Burmese by asking for a pony as a means of slow transportation. In addition, he takes "an old .44 Winchester, much too small to kill an elephant" (310). Believing the Burmese proves to be difficult as they all send him in different directions, and he remembers, "I had almost made up my mind that the whole story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance away" (311). Arriving at the scene from where the yells are coming from, he sees "a man’s dead body sprawling in the mud, an Indian, a black Dravidian coolie, almost naked . . . The friction of the great beast’s foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit" (311). This important image will later demonstrate Orwell’s interchangeability of roles with those of the dead coolie and the elephant.

After personally seeing the harm inflicting upon a Burman by the elephant, Orwell sends for a different rifle and five cartridges, and as a result the

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