His argument must be analyzed for its causes and implications to further understand the positive and negative cultural outcomes of imperialism for the colonizer and the colonized. By connecting imperialism’s tyranny to freedom, the story argues that the protagonist sacrifices his moral autonomy, in order to reinforce the white man’s leadership through violent-centered superiority.
Before the argument is discussed, it will be useful to understand the positive effects, or at least the well-meaning intentions, of the British imperialists. First, as the British colonize other countries, such as Burma, they are able to bring in their technology and morality to the people. Technology transfer, for the whites, is an important effect of imperialism. As the police officer of “Shooting an Elephant” notes, “[t]he Burmese population had no weapons” (Orwell). The English have brought weapons with them that can help improve the defense system o f the locals. In this case, the English serve as the defenders of their colonies. Second, when the British work closely with the locals, the former learn more about Burmese culture, including their struggles. Because the police officer lives among the Burmese, he has come to understand why the latter hate the English so much. His job allows him to “see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters” (Orwell). As a result, he realizes the wrongdoings of the English and he forms a secret hatred toward his own people. Apparently, these positive cultural effects pave the way for some grim analyses of the consequences of imperialism in the eyes of the protagonist.
Because of his official duties, the protagonist understands upfront the difference between real and fictional moralities of the British colonization history. The British believe that they colonized Burma because they are racially and culturally superior to the latter. They argue that imperialism is moral because they have saved the locals from