Pride vs Responsibility Essay

This essay has a total of 1355 words and 6 pages.

Pride vs Responsibility



Pride vs. Responsibility

"Shooting an Elephant" and "Such, Such Were the Joys" by George Orwell both were
autobiographical stories that show different parts of his life. In "Shooting an Elephant"
Orwell is a sub-divisional police officer that has to make a choice that will effect his
pride and the well being of the people he is protecting. In "Such, Such Were the Joys"
Orwell is a boy going to a very expensive school were he is faced with the problem of
losing his pride or dealing with the teachers and getting scholarships to very prestigious
colleges. In both of his stories Orwell is called upon to make a decision that could
affect the people around him, he has to make the right choice for himself and the people
around him. "Orwell, wrote Brander, 'was an individualist who confronted contemporary
social and political problems, as a man who has done all his thinking for himself'"(Ryan,
296). Although Orwell doesn't make the choices obvious in his stories he ends up choosing
between keeping his pride or dealing with the responsibilities given to him.

Orwell feels pride in himself in both "Shooting an Elephant" and "Such, Such Were the
Joys." His pride in "Shooting an Elephant" came from the fact that he didn't want to
shoot the elephant because he didn't see it as being right. "I had no intention of
shooting the elephant. I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if
necessary…"(754). Orwell had seen the damage the elephant had made, killing a person,
raiding a fruit vender, and wrecking a bamboo hut (753). But once he saw the elephant in
the grass he was almost sure that he was over his "must" so he didn't think he would have
to shoot it and didn't want to. He knew that the elephant was worth more alive than it
was dead because it is used for working, like a tool. The pride Orwell had in "Such, Such
Were the Joys" was all due to the fact that he was going to an expensive school,
Crossgate, with rich snobbish boys and he didn't want to have to ask to be equal to them.
He wanted to be accepted without having to ask for the acceptance. For example every year
on a boys birthday he would be given a birthday cake at tea time and that boys parents
would pay for, but in Orwell's case the teachers at the school didn't think his parents
could afford the cake so he never got one. Orwell's pride was made up of the fact that he
never asked for the cake, he just waited for that day when he would get one. "Year, after
Year, never daring to ask, I would miserably hope that this year cake would appear"(760).

In both stories Orwell is expected to keep the responsibilities required by the people
that are around him at that time in his life. In "Shooting an Elephant" Orwell realizes
that he might have to take action and kill this elephant when he sees the whole town
following him down to where they can see the elephant. He has the responsibility of
taking the leadership role because that is what is expected of him, he is British. That
means he has to do something about this animal, even if it's "must" has passed he has to
continue the action that he started when he asked for the gun. If he doesn't do something
this town of natives won't take him seriously again. "And suddenly I realized that I
should have to shoot the elephant… Here was I the white man with his gun… seemingly the
leading actor of the piece"(755). As a boy in " Such, Such Were the Joys" Orwell faced
huge responsibilities at school. There were two ways of getting into this school, one was
to be rich and the other was to be a boy who would possibly get scholarships to
prestigious schools.

"'In a world where the prime necessities were money, titled relatives, athleticism,
tailor-made clothes, neatly-brushed hair, a charming smile, I was no good,' Orwell wrote.
"'[I knew] that the future was dark. Failure, Failure, Failure-failure behind me, failure
ahead of me…'"(Ryan, 297).


Orwell wasn't rich so he was expected to do very well in school and get the scholarships
to the prestigious schools or else he was threatened, beaten or made fun of. "But he was
sometimes willing to sacrifice financial profit to scholastic prestige…It was on these
terms I was at Crossgates myself…"(757). If Orwell doesn't keep his responsibilities then
he will have to face the consequences. In "Shooting an Elephant" Orwell's consequences
were not only that he had to worry about making the white man look like less of a leader
but he also had to look after the people of the village. Orwell had a job to do in his
Indian village and that was to keep peace but also show the leadership the Englishmen had
pushed upon the Indian people. If he didn't finish his action when he asked for the gun
by killing the elephant then he could be showing doubt and fear, and that would make the
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