Shooting an Elephant
Burma took advantage of World War II to become independent. Initially they formed an alliance with Japan. The Japanese promised the Burmese that if Britain were defeated, Burma would be granted their freedom. After realising that the Japanese were not going to keep their promise, Burma made a deal with Britain to defeat Japan. In 1947 Burma was able to convince the British to give them their freedom.
The Burmese Army surrendering to the British in 1885.
The author of 'Shooting an Elephant'.
The British Empire
This images shows the British Empire taking over Burma.
However it could also be a secondary source because it was not written during the time of the events. Unlike a diary entry, Shooting an Elephant was written after it happened, making it a secondary source. Orwell's essay was drawn from what he remembered, not what he actually saw or experienced during the time that he was writing the essay. A limitation of the source being secondary is that Orwell may not have written his memories correctly, forgetting details that could have been important.
Overall I think that Shooting an Elephant is a primary source because although it was written after it happened, it was about George Orwell's experience as a police officer and is about what he saw, not somebody else.
Below is the first section of an essay that clarifies that Shooting an Elephant is a primary source.
"All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible." -George Orwell
Shooting an Elephant also tells us that imperialism forced people to make unethical decisions. Orwell had to go against his belief that imperialism was evil and shot the elephant to avoid looking stupid in front of the Burmese people.
Imperialism not only limits the natives' freedom, but also the imperialists'. They cannot do anything that may provoke the natives. If the natives were to be made angry or upset, war may evolve between the natives and the imperialists. George Orwell shoots the elephant to keep the Burmese people happy, even though he believes that the elephant deserves freedom.
There was natural conflict between the imperialists and the natives. The imperialists had taken away the natives' rights and peace with such ease, and the natives could do nothing, but watch. The natives would laugh at the British when they had the chance and thought of them as ridiculous people. The British therefore returned the hatred to the natives.
"For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better." -George Orwell
The Source's Reliability
A limitation of this source being biased is that Shooting an Elephant only describes imperialism as a negative thing. There is no positives of imperialism explained through the essay. George Orwell saw all of the awful things that imperialism had caused and focused on that instead of focusing of some of the positives.
Another limitation is that the essay does not accurately give voice to the experiences of the indigenous people. Orwell's description of the natives' situation is only based on what he saw. He was not a native himself so he did not have a first hand experience of what it was liked to be forced into being a part of imperialism.
Overall I believe that Shooting an Elephant is a reliable source because it comes from somebody who has seen the impacts of imperialism. He is writing about his own experiences and not someone else's who he has read or been told about.
In the image the British are depicted as a serpent which describes England as sneaky and terrifying. In the image above England has managed to take over many countries, leaving the natives without a choice but to let Britain take over their land. This relates to Shooting an Elephant because both sources describe the British as a terrible empire that is taking away what should rightfully be the natives'.
"The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been Bogged with bamboos - all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt."
Assessment of the Source
The only thing I am wary about with this source is that imperialism is only expressed as a negative event. George Orwell does not mention any positives of imperialism throughout the essay. Something positive that he could have mentioned was that without imperialism Burma would not have the buildings that they have today. Imperialists introduced new facilities to countries which benefited them in the long run.
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