by Sean Blake
March 23, 2014
A man stood with a decision to make. To shoot an elephant or to leave this majestic beast to roam its new field. The man shot the elephant. What a dark tale about the death of an animal I really like. What a story that is about so much more than the death of an elephant. George Orwell’s Essay Shooting an Elephant is really about the struggle for people to conform to their society, to fill their roles that their culture gives them. I enjoyed Orwell’s writing style. I was completely in the mind of the young police officer. I have been in so many situations where I have made the decision of the masses because I was going with the grain of the culture around me. For example I was sales manager at a big and tale store. I got a lot of questions from my customers. Why do I work here? Why am I not big or tall? I had to put on a role every day at work of the skinny salesman that can sell clothes to big guys. I had to be extra understanding, extra nice and extra small. I thrived in an environment where most didn’t think I belong. A lot of it was all bullshit, “big guys need nice fashionable clothing too,” and “I’m just a good salesman” and “that looks great, how about a tie to match.” Humans are very good at conforming. I conformed and found acting every day a lot of fun. That may have been my favorite job I ever had.
Other than being disingenuous at a job, I have another example where lives were in danger. I was at a beach party. I was around a group of people drinking, having a good time and taking it a little too far. I didn’t say anything, instead I tried keeping up with them. That night ended with my friend blowing my car up and me getting charged with DUI. Gratefully, no one was injured. A true lesson for me, listen to your conscience and do the right thing.
I found the death of the elephant to be very cruel and dark. I have always been fond of elephants as I am of almost all animals. The suffering this creature went through really hurt my feelings, but again it speaks volumes to the character of the police officer. He didn’t even know how to kill an elephant but, he still tried his best. Shooting away from the elephant’s brain because he thought that’s where he should shoot. He continues to shoot the poor beast trying to put it out its pain and misery. Failing to kill the beast, this bit did not sit well with me. I felt the beast’s pain, I felt anger towards the man that shot it and I felt upset for the shooting and wish the man had just leveled his pride.
Pride is what killed the poor animal. Pride is a deadly sin according to some. To me it’s not that evil but it is a killer in disguise. Normally it just kills good vibes and peoples egos but in this story it kills an elephant slowly and painfully. It brings to life the problem of pride. “I was hated by a large numbers of people—the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me” (272) the futility of this man’s pride is painted beautifully in this quote. Would it have really hurt the police officer if he had left the elephant alone? Everyone already thought he was a fool. He was still so prideful, even though everyone hated him, he still believed in his own importantace.
Overall this was a well written story that I found hard to get through because of the animal abuse. But like I stated above the killing of the elephant is really just a man trying to avoid to killing his pride. Is that not what nearly all of us do every single day?