English Club and performation of the ‘white’ identity

Throughout the novel, Orwell frequently uses the symbol of the English Club as a locus of actions where the perfomation of identity as a pukka sahib is most ostensible and the English men and women in Burma constantly reinforce each other’s ‘whiteness’ and superiority over the Burmese. It is important to note that in spite of the violent mob carried out by the natives in their anger over Ellis’ abuse of the school boys, the English Club emerges from the crisis shaken, but with all its essential principles and racism intact. There continues to be objections to electing a native representative to the club and the desperation to preserve the club as an all-white domain remains strong. In addition, not only did the English men not blame Ellis for the outbreak of the upheaval, they fault the natives for the disorder throughout the entire process. The English club is not only a recognized institution of power by the white men, but by the locals as well. Dr. Veraswami associates the membership with eternal protection and superiority, satisfied to be an ‘adjunct’ to the white man. U Po Kyin also recognises this and plans to grab this privilege for himself by eliminating Dr. Veraswami altogether.
The English Club is perhaps, also a center of survelliance whereby the Anglo-indians must confront each other and ensure that their superiority as the white race would not be compromised by any unbecoming beahviour by any of the members. For instance, Flory is constantly being rebuked for his ties with Veraswami and in front of the members, he hardly dares to speak up for his true beliefs and express the disdain for the imperial ideology, and is constantly torn between his private and social identity.

One thought on “English Club and performation of the ‘white’ identity

  1. Very nice reading Peiyi. You could even use Foucault and governmentality here… good fodder for a final paper!