Colonialism had spread its roots throughout the world in the early 20th century and the country of Burma was no exception to this. As the young George Orwell realizes this in his essay, “Shooting an Elephant”, he illustrates his point of view as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police of the oppressing imperialist policies placed upon the country of Burma by the British. Here, he learns of the seeming lack of individualized freedom that is apparent in many other countries, the exception being Burma.
Through this corrupt societal system, individuals are powerless to their own beliefs when they are influenced by others; these individuals take on the public image which is expected from them. After the elephant appears in front of Orwell, he has realized that this creature means no harm to the citizens of Burma however, the glaring eyes of the citizens pierce through Orwell, leaving him to deal with the elephant in the room.
He realizes that “Here was I, the white man with his gun… seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality, I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant in his own freedom he destroys. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’ and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it” (Orwell).