"Shooting an Elephant" is a 1936 essay by George Orwell that details his experiences as a colonial police officer in Burma, now known as Myanmar, during the later days of British imperialism. Orwell details his own conflicted feelings and precarious position and values through the symbolic experience of shooting a once-rampaging, now-calm elephant in order to, as he says, "avoid being laughed at" by the Burmese people over whom he ruled. The essay explores questions of power, humiliation, unnecessary violence, and values. It is one of Orwell's most famous works and is often considered a central document in understanding questions of whiteness in imperialist frameworks.
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