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Shooting an Elephant. By George Orwell. Biographical Information. George Orwell- born in 1903 in Motihari , Bihar, in British India but moved to England when he was one year old. Was sickly, so he started his writing at the young age of four. First published at age 11.

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shooting an elephant

Shooting an Elephant

By George Orwell

biographical information
Biographical Information
  • George Orwell- born in 1903 in Motihari, Bihar, in British India but moved to England when he was one year old.
  • Was sickly, so he started his writing at the young age of four. First published at age 11.
  • Returned back to the east to Burma as a police officer in 1922. It is rumored that his essay is possibly written from first hand experiences.
social historical cultural aspects
Social, Historical, Cultural aspects
  • “Shooting an Elephant” was written during a time when Burma was under British rule and the natives resented the validity of their authority. Burmese men and women generally disrespected the British police; “Shooting and Elephant” portrays this attitude clearly.
  • Burma did not achieve independence from the United Kingdom until 1948.

Burma became a British colony in 1886. There were frequent riots and the divide between the religious practices caused much of the resentment and disrespect towards the British.

  • Before Burma gained independence in 1948, the land was desecrated by World War II.
  • Today, Burma is commonly called Myanmar. They still suffer from constant religious clashing, ethnic strife, and low human development.
literary criticism marxist
Literary Criticism- Marxist
  • Marxist criticism- uses the literary work to push a political agenda.
  • Gardner states that the characters in Marxist criticism are divided into oppressors and victims in order to show what drove the characters to their actions.
  • All socioeconomic forces effect people’s lives, so Marxist criticism has a broader definition.
applying marxist criticism
Applying Marxist Criticism
  • The policeman struggles with what he wishes to do and how he is supposed to act. He knows that he is representing his government and that he must supress his own urges.

“ A white man mustn’t be frightened in front ‘natives’; and so, in general, he isn’t frightened”.

“I did not want to shoot the elephant”.

“As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear”.


The policeman realizes the depravity of the government under which he serves, however, feels trapped, bitter, and frustrated that he is unable to do what he feels is right. He sees that his position confines him to do the devil’s bidding.

“I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib”.

questions about the text
Questions about the text
  • How does government influence the individuals sense of integrity?
  • Did Orwell’s character make the right decision?
  • How much influence did the crowd on villagers play into his actions? (why does the presence of the villagers change his actions).
duty of care

Duty of Care

By John McPhee

biographical information1
Biographical Information
  • John McPhee- born in Princeton, NJ in 1931.
  • He still lives in his hometown, and went to the local university, Princeton.
  • Wrote on a variety of subjects such as sports, geology, and agriculture.
  • He was well travelled, visited many countries across the world, and published more than 30 books.

Won an Academy Award in literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters.

  • Won the Pulitzer Prize for “Annals of the Former World” (survey of North American Geology).
  • Still teaching at Princeton.
social cultural historical aspects
Social, Cultural, Historical aspects
  • The tire ponds are local to the Bay Area, largest pond is in Stanislaus! This is less than two hours away from West Valley.
  • In California alone, we try to divert of manage over 40 million tires!!
  • In 1996 and 1998, over 8.5 million tires were destroyed by fire, contaminating air, water, and soil.

Tire fires, which are usually arson, require such great amounts of water that they usually are left to burn themselves out; this can take months.

  • Tires are composed of rubber, steel, and carbon.
  • Some of these components are reusable, rubber however, is not. 
what are other ways we can reuse these items
What are other ways we can reuse these items?

literary criticism marxist1
Literary Criticism- Marxist
  • Marxist criticism- uses the literary work to push a political agenda.
  • All socioeconomic forces effect people’s lives, so Marxist criticism has a broader definition.
  • “According to this model, the very acts of writing and reading literature can be characterized as production and consumption”- much like the use of tires.
applying marxist criticism1
Applying Marxist Criticism
  • Consumers are looking for new, nice products (tires) without considering the complications of where and how the used tires are disposed.

“..all the scrap tires now strewn about the American landscape would make a stack a hundred and forty-two thousand miles high”.

“They are not just the used tires of bureaucrats, ballplayers, and litter-strewing rock-deafening ninja-teen-aged nyrds. They are everybody’s tires”.


Repurposing, reusing, and breaking down worn tires is not only the duty of the government, but the people themselves must have an “industrial commitment”.

“The reality of life is that we can’t afford to be wasteful anymore. Let’s do something else with this material when we’re finished with it, and we’ll be in good shape in the next generation. That takes an industrial commitment. It’s not a legislative matter. You can’t legislate people to feel a certain way”.


“To me it’s just something so incredible that thirteen million tires are in a hole and no one cares”!

There is slow progress and there are a few people wanting to make a difference:

“Everybody in this country is worried about a vote instead of doing what’s right…when I’m dead, everyone will know that I made a difference in solving this tire problem”.

questions about the text1
Questions about the text
  • Do you recycle? Do you go above and beyond the normal parameters of recycling?
  • What are other products you should be recycling? Are there products we should make “greener”?
  • Should the government instate more laws concerning biodegradability? How do politics and corruption play a role?

Keep Tires Properly Inflated

  • You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer, reduce pollution and last longer.
  • The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver's side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner's manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire's sidewall.