BBS Second Year English
Shooting an Elephant Short Summary/Synopsis, Theme, Analysis and Symbol
Point of View in Shooting an Elephant:
The writer uses the first person point of view to present his experience in Burma as a police office of the British Empire.
Short Analysis of the story Shooting an Elephant
It is a narrative essay where we find a story of a police officer’s interaction with a wild elephant. It is written by George Orwell. It presents Orwell’s time story. Orwell used to serve as a police officer for the British empire in Burma. The story interestingly brings an inner mental conflict of the central character, the police officer. We come to know that he wasn’t satisfied by British rule in Burma.
He attaches himself to Burmese people. He shares his sentiments to the people. So, he is against the British empire in Burma. Irony is that he hates British empire in Burma but he still serves the empire. He doesn’t like the rule of British because Burmese people are oppressed by the rule. Although he supports Burmese but he is mocked for working with British empire. In fact, he is in confusing state because he is supporting both British as well as Burmese people.
Summary/Synopsis of the story Shooting an Elephant:
The whole story moves around a single day event of shooting an elephant. The story begins when the speaker knows that an elephant has become violent by broking its chain. He comes to know that an elephant is running here and there uncontrollably. The elephant is moving through a market. He is obliged to follow his duty by controlling the elephant.
He takes his a small rifle and starts chasing it. He doesn’t want to kill the animal. Infact, he wants to control it. When he encounters with the elephant, he knows that the elephant has destroyed the market. He sees the mess created by the elephant. It has also killed an innocent villager. He chases the elephant to the paddy fields. He finds that the elephant is enjoying the paddy. He finds the elephant vast and beautiful. He doesn’t want to shoot the elephant.
He comes to know that two thousand people are waiting for his shooting the elephant. They expects that he will kill the elephant. Their expectation is high because he represents powerful British empire who has power to take the action. He thinks that if he doesn’t shoot the elephant, Burmese people will start mocking him.
At last, to save his dignity, he aims at the brain of the elephant and shoots the elephant with his rifle. The crowd cheers him for his action. But the elephant survives. He shoots continuously to kill the elephant. He finds that the elephant is still breathing. He considers his action as a shameful act and leaves the field. He comes to know that the elephant died after half an hour. People have mixed feelings about his action. One young officer takes his action as a shameful act because it is not good to kill an elephant for killing a Burmese coolie.
Themes in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant:
The story presents the theme of imperialism. Imperialism is a policy of a country to increase its territory, power, influence and control by using different means like military force. The writer doesn’t support imperialism.In fact, he is against it. He hates it. In this story, he wants to show the reader about the bad impacts of imperialism on ruled people like Burmese.
He hints that both ruler and ruled are the victims of it. He shows his hate towards the British Empire during his service as a police officer in Burma. He shows Burmese people losing self-dignity and identity when they were ruled by the Empire. They were hated and oppressed by the rule. He shoots the elephant because he is also a victim of the imperialism. He has the duty to serve the empire as a police officer.
Symbol in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant:
The central symbol of the story is the elephant. It captures the bad effects of imperialism on ruler and ruled. The elephant doesn’t have freedom to travel here and there like the people of Burmese. It has lost its self respect and dignity. The British Empire’s treatment towards Burmese people can be evaluated from the elephant’s critical situation at last. It shows lack of humanity. So, the symbol symbolizes the contemporary situation where Burmese people were hated and oppressed by the rule.