Rule of colonial difference backfires!

In Chatterjee’s article, we are introduced to the concept of the “rule of colonial difference-of representing the “other” as inferior and radically different, and hence incorrigibly inferior” (33). In the article, we understand this concept via its application by the colonizer to the colonized. In other words, the Englishman employs the rhetoric of colonial difference to benefit himself.

However, in Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”, we see how the rhetoric of the rule of colonial difference has backfired on the colonizer. In “Shooting”, we see how the narrator is pressured to act against his own will only because he tries to avoid looking the fool in front of natives. He sees himself as different from the natives because he possesses arms and perhaps superior rationalizing skills, therefore able to take control of the situation. However, his possession of the rifle and supposedly higher intellect are the very things that pressure him into acting against his will. The narrator sees how the natives were all expecting him to shoot the elephant because he called for the rifle. The possession of rationality, higher morality and legal knowledge pressures the narrator to resolve the issue ‘properly’. Therefore, he was relieved that the Indian coolie had died, justifying his killing of the elephant – be it in moral or legal terms.

Thus, claiming the rule of colonial difference may not often be beneficial, even if you are differentiated to be the ‘superior’ race!

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