Shooting to be White!

This week’s reading, “Shooting an Elephant”, suggests an interesting relationship between the colonist and their subjects. There is this sense of racialization, but in this story, the racialization of White man and its subversion. This does raise a lot of questions on what white man see themselves to be – rational, civilized, knowledgeable etc. In the story, there presents this situation where white men have to constantly prove themselves worthy to be white man, marking themselves as the superiors – “A white man mustn’t be frightened in front of “natives”. As seen from the quote, there is this constant need to reassure their status and avoid diminishing their image. This preoccupation, I feel, becomes a driving force to irrationality for the white police officer. I suggest this as the elephant is understood to be harmless already. However, the need to ‘please’ the natives created only “one alternative” – to shoot! The revelation of the police officer’s thoughts provides us with the contrast in what people expected and what exactly happened. All the other white men – young or old, were debating whether it was worth killing the elephant over an Indian man. They naturally assumed that the police officer, being one of them would react rationally – in this case, the debate over legitimacy versus the financial valuation of the elephant and the Indian man. Many questions arise from the act of the white police officer. Is the white man essentially that different from the natives? If there is no difference, wouldn’t the colonist be ruling irrationally? Their belief in their superiority would then be a fallacy after all. Personally, the only difference between the white police officer and the natives would be the “beautiful German [rifle]” that the white man is holding.

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