This study guide will help you analyse the short story “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.
Presentation of the text
Title: “Shooting an Elephant” (1936)
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Short story
George Orwell (1903-1950) is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, an English writer and journalist who was born in British India. Orwell lived in India, Burma and England, places that inspired his writings. Today he is mostly known for his dystopian novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm, in which he explores totalitarian regimes and unequal societies The short story “Shooting an Elephant” is inspired by Orwell’s experience as a police officer in Burma.
Note on genre
Orwell published "Shooting an Elephant" as an essay, so it is supposed to be a true story from Orwell's life. However, experts disagree on whether the story should be regarded as fact or fiction, so many choose to analyse the text as a short story instead. We have also chosen to regard it as a short story in this study guide.
Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: