Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
That has to be the greatest political image anyone ever put in my head.!:cool:
I understood it: its the 'Flushed Away Imperial Policy Model'. :rolleyes:

Does anyone else think of the elephant as being a metaphor for the Indian people.
 
Dec 2009
19,933
Originally Posted by Cicero I read somewhere about the British in India, that an important Englishman there made a statement to the effect of numbers, that the Indians only need to turn at once and urinate on us to drown us... the implications being that the absuridty of numbers on both sides of the Imperial System.
That has to be the greatest political image anyone ever put in my head.!:cool:
It's essentially a eschatological alternative version of a famous Chinese quotation regularly attributed to Chairman Mao: something like "if all the Chinese jumped at the same time when they landed it would make a huge tidal wave".
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
. . . "if all the Chinese jumped at the same time when they landed it would make a huge tidal wave".
If they could find a toilet that big I guess that would bowl anyone over.:)
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
I particularly liked these two quotes : ...and ... (deleted by computer, not me)
A good description of the power someone's will can have over another person,and how strong that power can be. I think the fact that they were with so many was of greater impact for the strength of this willpower than the fact that they were natives.

IMO if it had only been two or three natives, he might not have shot the elephant...
I think you are right on, Thalina.
BTW welcome to the book discussion. Nice to have some new faces here. We have been working Cicero overtime. He could use the relief I am sure.
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Does anyone else think of the elephant as being a metaphor for the Indian people.
Yes. And not only a metaphor of the colonized but the colonizers. Imperialism is dying slowly as the elephant did as is the Indian culture.
 

Cicero

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,829
Tennessee
We have been working Cicero overtime. He could use the relief I am sure.
Hey I'm working on a whole lot more scatalogical metaphors as the last one was such a big hit ;) .. that and emptying rain water from just about everything that can collect water. We've had a lot of rain here.
 

Patito de Hule

Ad Honorem
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
At the time this essay was discussed, I was quite busy. I had just helped my daughter move from Texas to Wyoming (she had some special problems that required assistance) and was getting ready to visit my mother in California, where I spent four months. So I read the essay in isolation from all other works of Orwell and never got in on the discussion. It was one year ago, just before my birthday.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a book of essays by George Orwell which contained this, among others. (I can't find the right collection on Amazon.) It set me to thinking about this discussion.

It is well known that Orwell (or Eric Blair) has said that his experience in Burma was a turning point in his life when he became opposed to imperialism. It may well be the turning point of his life when he became a Socialist. Carlisle Blues said it this way:

My interpretation was that the elephant represented imperialism and its decline. As if the protagonist suddenly had an epiphany regarding imperialism.
He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old..
Further, that his shooting the elephant because he "must" was enforcement of imperialist views which he found repugnant and hated.
So in reality George Orwell was expounding upon an important turning point in his life. As Carlisle said, the shooting of the elephant was an "epiphany." His maturing process is well illustrated in his essays.
 

EmperorTigerstar

Ad Honorem
Jun 2013
6,398
USA
For my senior year in High School my English class read George Orwell's major essays. I enjoyed this one and it ended up being my third favorite essay behind "You and the Atomic Bomb" and "Politics in the English Language."
 

Nostromo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,504
Queens
I read this a long time ago, but I remember finding this particularly interesting:

The fact that the natives hated him (the protagonist), and yet when they were in danger they looked to him for protection from nature. If I remember correctly he had second thoughts about stopping the elephant and considered letting it run amok to punish the locals.