George Orwell: Essays

A hanging

At the end of this narrative, the magistrates are laughing loudly and drinking whiskey. Why do you think they are behaving so inappropriately?

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This is unclear. There is the sense that executing people has become so repetitive that they can laugh about the many victims. There is also a sense of guilt that all the men feel. Making light of the many victims of hanging somehow covers their pain or lessens their sense of vulnerability.