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Shooting an Elephant Discussion Questions

In: English and Literature

Submitted By cesanli
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“Shooting an Elephant” Discussion/Activity 1) The first sentence of this essay is "In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people- the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me." What does he mean when he says he was "important enough" to be hated?
When Orwell says he was “important enough” to be hated, the position that Orwell stood in as a British police officer, gave the citizens a reason to hate him he was part of the British who had conquered their land and took over them. The fact that he was an officer at that time put him in an important class, but he was being hated for the importance he carried.

2) Discuss the following passage with your group and what it tells us about Orwell's conflicted feelings towards empires/imperialism and the people who have been colonized. Underline or highlight specific words and phrases that Orwell uses to show his conflicted feelings. Overall, how would you describe the TONE of this passage?

All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically—and secretly, of course—I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos—all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East……...

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