The Power of Pride

The Power of Pride

Sometimes people make decisions to satisfy their pride. Anillustration is apparent in “Shooting an Elephant” when GeorgeOrwell shoots the elephant to avoid the Burmese from viewing him asweak. The narrative recounts Orwell’s stay in Burma where as anunhappy police officer, he is informed of a stray elephant. He facesthe dilemma of whether to kill or save the animal, and eventuallyshoots the elephant as a way of saving his pride.

An elephant destroying the bazaar results in a chain of events whereOrwell has to make a fast decision on saving or killing the elephant.Orwell receives a call from the sub-inspector informing him of astray elephant, and is requested to “come and do something aboutit” (Orwell 134). He sets out to contain the situation and carriesa rifle, which is too small to murder the elephant. Orwell intends toscare aware the elephant that explains why he carries a rifle “toosmall to kill an elephant” (Orwell 134). He supposes, “The noisemight be useful in terrorem” (Orwell 134). However, he discoversthat the animal has murdered a coolie, and in self-defense borrows anelephant rifle.

When Orwell borrows the larger rifle, the Burmese are convinced thathe is set to shoot the elephant. This results in a large crowd thatfollows Orwell to the paddy fields. He notes, “As I started forwardpractically the whole population of the quarter flocked out of thehouses and followed me” (Orwell 136). Orwell further notes, “Theyhad seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I was goingto shoot the elephant” (Orwell 136). Once he sees the elephant, herealizes that he does not have to shoot it, as it is no longercausing havoc (Orwell 136). However, the Burmese are eagerly watchinghim with expectation that he shoots. Walking aware without shootingthe elephant means, “The crowd would laugh at me” (Orwell 137).Hence, he shoots the elephant because his self-importance to theBurmese is more important than sparing the elephant’s life.

Orwell shoots the elephant to ensure that his pride survives amongthe Burmese. He is aware that in case the elephant kills him, theBurmese will find happiness in the killing. Supposing, “anythingwent wrong those two thousand Burma’s would see me pursued, caught,trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up thehill” (Orwell 13). In addition, if Orwell was to be killed by theelephant, “it was quite probable that some of them would laugh”(Orwell 137). The sole alternative saving Orwell from suchembarrassment was shooting the elephant. He has to disregard hisconscience that tells him to save the elephant. Saving the elephantmeans having to live with the shame of not appearing resolute. Henotes, “I had to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself todoing it when I sent for the rifle. A sahib has got to act like asahib has got to appear resolute” (Orwell 137). As a result, hefires shots at the animal until he manages to bring it down. Bykilling the animal, the natives view him as courageous. Since, “Awhite man must not be frightened in front of natives” (Orwell 137),Orwell saves his pride by shooting the elephant. He concludes thatshooting the elephant ensured he did not appear foolish to theBurmese (Orwell 139).

Work Cited

Orwell, George. Shooting an Elephant. Patterns for CollegeWriting. Ed. Laurie Kirszner. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,2012. 133-141. Print.