The main character of George Orwell's short story "Shooting an elephant" is the narrator.  He is not named, which might be because he is meant to represent any British officer working in the British colonies. He is influenced and shaped by the action in the story – as we see him killing an elephant under the pressure of the crowd, despite his judgement telling him otherwise. The narrator comes across as a conflicted character.

The other characters that appear in the story are not important individually, but as the collective character of the locals with whom the narrator interacts. They are seen through the eyes of the narrator, and their thoughts and feelings are interpreted by him. As they do not change over the course of the story, they can be considered a flat character.

Other British colleagues are mentioned as well.

The narrator

Outer characterization

The narrator in George Orwell's "Shooting an elephant" is unnamed, which could be a hint that he is meant to represent Orwell himself, who also lived and worked in Burma as a police officer. However, the narrator might also be unnamed because he is meant to represent a typical British police officer working in the British colonies. This is also probably why his outer characterisation only mentions that he lives “In Moulmein, in Lower Burma” and that he is the “sub-divisional police officer of the town” – giving him a generic identity.

The story also implies that he is of European descent as he mentions the locals’ anti-European attitude: “anti-European feeling was very bitter” . He later mentions being an Englishman ,  as well as “young and ill-educated” . We also know that as a police officer he is equipped with a “pony” and an “old .44 Winchester” rifle, which suggest the police equipment in Burma was very basic even for British officers.



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