The narrator refers to the shooting of the elephant as “enlightening: it was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism – the real motives for which despotic governments act”. He admitted that he had shot the elephant “solely to avoid looking a fool”. What struck me when I read Shooting an Elephant was how brutally honest the text was. Here was a member of the imperialists who did not believe in the imperialist ideals that he was fed, but was yet propelled to carry out the actions of the imperialist masters because of pressure from not only the imperial masters, but from the colonized natives as well. I had never thought that there were imperialist masters who would feel the pressure from their subjects, and actually try to fulfill their expectations. I had always imagined them to be like Lord Jim, who would protect their self interests above all else. To be fair though, I am lumping all the imperial masters into a faceless mass, and shooting an elephant to appease the natives is not the same as abandoning a ship full of natives as the narrator’s life is not endangered.
When the imperialist masters gradually lose faith in their ideals, I suppose the only things keeping them to the land are pride, as can been seen from Shooting an Elephant, and economic resources.