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Thematic Interpretation Of Shooting An Elephant Essay

There is only one thing Orwell can do. He loads the gun, lies on the road, and takes aim at the elephant. The crowd sighs in anticipation. Orwell aims at the elephant’s head—too far forward to hit the brain, he thinks—and fires. The crowd roars in excitement, and the elephant appears suddenly weakened. After a bit of time, the elephant sinks to its knees and begins to drool. Orwell fires again, and the elephant does not fall—instead, it wobbles back onto its feet. A third shot downs the elephant. As it tumbles to the ground, however, it trumpets and appears to grow even larger, and its fall shakes the earth on which Orwell lies.

The description of the elephant’s physical distress is excruciating, and Orwell clearly intends to emphasize the barbarity of his decision and actions. It is particularly notable that the elephant appears to be at its most magnificent just as it falls. This illustrates that at the elephant’s moment of bodily defeat, it only becomes a more powerful symbol of the irrational savagery of colonialism.

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