Elephant Imagery

Good Essays
Elephants are one of the first animals learned about in a child’s life. This is because they have distinct features: big ears, long trunk, and gray skin. Along with learning what they look like, children learn simple facts about them. For example, they are taught that elephants never forget and that they are scared of mice. Combine both of these descriptions with the wrinkled skin of an adult elephant, and the image of a wise, old, but also soft animal emerges. The wisdom comes from good memory and an old look. The softness comes from the fear of a being significantly smaller than itself. Mice are not scary, but if something as large and wise as an elephant is spooked by one than maybe elephants have tender hearts. All of this former knowledge…show more content…
Its skin becomes more wrinkled, its mouth becomes loose, and its face becomes confused (???). Everything about the elephant is dreadful and certainly imparts the idea of wretchedness to the reader. What’s more is that the poor thing doesn’t collapse to the ground until after the third shot. However, it gets much worse for the elephant who later can’t seem to die. “It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again, but he was not dead” (???). The image of a normally power animal being made helpless is not a pleasant one, which is why Orwell drags it on for so long. With each extra shot into the elephant’s heart and throat (???), the reader increasingly feels the immense pain of the elephant. Every second is tortue, every minute—blinding agony. Whatever the narrator was feeling before, there are surely feelings of regret now; however, he has no feelings. In the end it’s revealed that the narrator simply killed the elephant because he wanted to avoid looking like a fool (???). This apathy further demonstrates how severely the Burmans are mistreated. If a man is too focused on public opinion to do his job correctly than how much more will he fail to aid the Burmans when they need…show more content…
Why was the elephant shot? Why do the British insist on ruining countless Burman lives? The answer, it seems, is that there is no reason, at least, no good reason. By extending the shooting scene, Orwell makes the elephant’s death more meaningful than it’s life and that is what has happened in Burma. The people there are valued more for doing what the British want rather than what they are good at; not being able to do what you’re good at is a kind of death. The sad fact is that, although the elephant’s pain eventually ceases, the Burmans do not in this story. Their “tortured gasps will continue as steadily as the ticking of a clock”
Get Access