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Shooting an Elephant

Shooting an Elephant

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Shooting an Elephant

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  1. Shooting an Elephant George Orwell

  2. Type of Work • Short story/essay • Published in 1936 in New Writing

  3. Setting • Burma (present day Myanmar), India • 1920s • Town called Moulmein on southern part of province called Lower Burma • Near Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea • Rice-growing region

  4. Historical Context • British gained control of India and imposed their will and ways on the population • British people received the best jobs, had the top government posts, exploited India’s natural resources, dominated economic political and social life • Created social barrier between themselves and native residents

  5. Characters • Narrator: Young British police officer in Burma • Opposes the oppressive rule of Britain • Natives ridicule him • Sub-Inspector: Burmese officer who calls narrator for help when an elephant gets loose in town • Black Dravidian Coolie: Indian laborer who gets killed by the elephant • Dravidians were a lower-caste with own language

  6. Characters: • Friend of Narrator: Gives the narrator an elephant gun • Police Orderly: Gets the elephant gun for narrator • Mahout: owns the elephant; skilled trainer and handler • Indian Constables • Townspeople • British people who react to the shooting

  7. Vocabulary • Bazaar: marketplace • Coolie: unskilled laborer • Coringhee: from Coringa, India • Dravidian: lower-caste with own language

  8. Vocabulary • Imperialism: policy of controlling weak or underdeveloped countries for economic, political, and military purposes • Mahout: skilled elephant handler and trainer • Raj, British: British government rule in India • Sahib: master, sir. Used by natives to address the British

  9. Conflicts • Narrator has three conflicts • 1. with the British empire for unjust occupation of Burma (external) • 2. with the Burmese for their mockery of him as a British person (external) • 3. with himself, his image, and his conscience (internal)

  10. Themes • Evil of Imperialism • Made natives of Burma socially inferior • Convinces British occupants to make unethical decisions in order to maintain British superiority

  11. Themes • Loss of Freedom in Colonized Land • British restrict freedoms of natives • British restrict own freedom in that they tend to avoid provoking natives • Shot the elephant because the natives expected him to

  12. Themes • Prejudice • British people did not respect natives • E.g. Elephant is worth more than the coolie it killed • Positions of authority went to British people • Social barriers

  13. Themes • Resentment • Natives resent presence of British and British resent natives • Constant tension

  14. Climax • Narrator decides he has to shoot the elephant because he is under pressure to do so

  15. Symbols • Mad elephant: symbol of British empire • Like the elephant the Empire is powerful • Elephant raiding bazaar represents English raiding the economy of Burma • When elephant kills coolie, it represents the English oppressing the natives

  16. Symbols • Dead Coolie: symbol of downtrodden Burmese • Football (Soccer): symbol of British imposition of their culture onto natives • Mud: symbol of squalor in which natives suffered under British rule

  17. Literary Devices • Alliteration: repetition of consonant sound • Yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere • Suddenly stricken • An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him

  18. Literary Devices • Anaphora: word or phrase is repeated at the start of a clause or group of words to impart emphasis and balance • Some of the people said that the elephant had gone in one direction, some said that he had gone in another, some professed not even to have heard of any elephant. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes-faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot

  19. Literary Devices • Metaphor: comparison without using like, as, than, as if • I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly (comparison of wills to a physical force) • I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind (comparison of narrator to a puppet)

  20. Literary Devices • Oxymoron: Combination of contradictory terms • Grinning corpse • Paradox: contradictory statement that may be true • a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes • I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys

  21. Literary Devices • Simile: Comparison using like, as, than, or as if • The elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow (comparison of elephant to cow) • He seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree (comparison of elephant to rock) • The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet (comparison of blood to velvet)

  22. Literary Devices • Onomatopoeia: word sounds like what it portrays • He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps