A Narrator in Shooting an Elephant Essay


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Shooting an Elephant – Humane, Empathetic, Just Narrator

Within George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant essay, the narrator is humane, empathetic, and just. The narrator is humane because, bearing in mind the owner’s welfare; he is unwilling to kill a particular elephant. This narrator is also empathetic; he cannot endure watching the elephant as it experiences slow death. Moreover, the narrator is fair; he takes issue with the substandard housing facilities provided by the British government to a Burmese police officer. This essay analyses the narrator’s behavior within Shooting an Elephant is humane, empathetic, and just.

The narrator is humane because he is reluctant to kill a particular elephant, taking into consideration the owner’s welfare. To this end, the narrator explains that this elephant is worth about one hundred Great Britain pounds (Orwell). Given this great value, the narrator does not want to shoot the elephant. The narrator’s reluctance is informed by his concern about the welfare of the elephant’s owner. If this elephant dies, the owner would incur losses amounting to a minimum of one hundred Great Britain pounds. This discussion confirms that the narrator within Shooting an Elephant is humane.

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Further, the narrator is empathetic; he is unable to withstand watching the elephant’s slow death process. In this regard, upon noticing that the wounded elephant is struggling to breathe, the narrator leaves the spot where this animal is lying (Ibid.). Through this action, the narrator illustrates that he identifies with the suffering that the elephant is experiencing. It is as if the elephant’s suffering is the narrator’s own. Such emotional connection causes the narrator to leave the area where the elephant is lying. From this discussion, it is evident that the narrator is empathetic toward the elephant.

The narrator is also just; he challenges the fact that the British government has provided a particular Burmese police officer with substandard housing facilities. On this note, the narrator reports that this Burmese police officer works within quarters made of neglected thatched bamboo houses (Ibid.). It is thematically important that the narrator describes the condition of the Burmese police officer’s office quarters. The narrator’s description implies that British police officers do not work within such rundown quarters. Being a British police officer, the narrator must be well aware of the condition of his own office quarters. With this information in mind, it is clear that the narrator describes the Burmese police officer’s office quarters to criticize the British government. In other words, the narrator wants the British government to offer the same quality of office quarters to both Burmese and British police officers. By rooting for fairness with regard to provision of office quarters, the narrator demonstrates that he is just.

In conclusion, Shooting an Elephant, the narrator is humane, empathetic, and just. The narrator is humane because he considers the welfare of the owner of an elephant and is thus reluctant to kill this animal. The narrator is further empathetic because he refuses to watch as the elephant experiences slow death. Moreover, the narrator is just; he encourages the British government to provide the same quality of office quarters to both British and Burmese police officers. It is critical that Orwell depicts the narrator, a symbol of British oppression in Burma, in positive light. To obtain enlightening insights, a reader would study Orwell’s other colonialist literature to find out how this author depicts representatives of the imperial British government.

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