The demands of carrying a gun

Whilst I was reading the article by Chatterjee,  what struck me most was that Smith said that the natives “crave for a government by a person to whom they can render royal homage”.  Reflecting upon it, it seems almost as though the Indians, with their rigid caste system and rules which were thought to be not based on any “common code of morality” or “rational system of law”, would have been used to being ruled in a fashion much akin to colonial rule which greatly privileged the ruling classes to the disadvantage of others. There are some striking resemblances between the rule of colonial difference, in which race is a marker of superiority whilst in the caste system where one is simply born into a social class as one is born white or black.

Linking this to Shooting the elephant, it made me think of how when one wields power, just as the speaker wields a gun, often one would feel as though he is expected to use it simply because he has it.  Just as the Indians might expect the white Raj to behave a certain way due to their own experiences with their native Raj, the Burmese also compel the white officer to shoot the elephant. If the elephant is to be read as a symbol for the native, then perhaps the natives have a part to play in their oppression due to their expectations of one who wields the gun. Perhaps if the Indians were not so used to the injustices of the caste system, things would have been different?

One thought on “The demands of carrying a gun