Author of 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell was one of the most influential and well-known British writers of the twentieth century. After graduating from school, Orwell served for a time as a British police officer in the colony of Burma. His experiences in Burma greatly disturbed Orwell, and led him to become a staunch opponent of the imperial system. Written in 1936, the autobiographical Shooting an Elephant is widely regarded as Orwell’s most incisive and penetrating critique of the imperial system, and of that system’s impact upon both ruler and subject. EXPAND THE QUESTIONS

Questions for Consideration and Discussion

  1. According to Orwell, how did the Burmese subjects and their British rulers interact?

  2. Why does Orwell shoot the elephant? Explain.

  3. What does this incident tell us about imperialism’s impact on its subjects? What does it say about imperialism’s impact on its rulers?

  4. Compare Orwell’s experiences with the description of imperialism found in Kipling’s poem. which view do you find more accurate?
 
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