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Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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Essay title: Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

The essays “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, “My Name Is Margaret” by Maya Angelou, and “Shame” by Dick Gregory explore the natural desires of individuals amidst pressure from common everyday life. In “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell describes a young man serving in the imperial police in Burma. He is hated by the public due to his Anglo-Indian background and participation in British imperialism. The young man is tested when an elephant loses control and stampedes through the entire town leaving human and material victims. The man is willed to shoot the elephant through public pressure despite his own desire to leave the animal alone. He agonizes over his choice to kill and his giving in due to the surge of power he felt amidst the acceptance of the public. Angelou, in “My Name Is Margaret” writes of a young African American “debutante” who spends her time embroidering doilies and learning about China plates at a house of a middle-aged white woman. Margaret struggles between her understanding of identity as opposed to the identity many individuals around her want for her to have. A friend of Margaret’s mistress influences the mistress to call Margaret Mary for short. This truly challenges Margaret’s beliefs about her history and the ability of a higher authority to take something specifically hers and change it. Instead of conforming to her higher authority she goes to an extreme. She destroys the Chine plates belonging to her mistress to show an equivalent disrespect towards the mistress as the mistress has shown to her. Margaret’s retaliation is effective. Finally, Gregory explores the devastating financial and parental situation of a young child named Richard through the essay “Shame”. He addresses the teacher’s disapproval of Richard and her deeming him as a troublemaker, while truly it is the hunger and the cold that is keeping Richard from focusing in class. When the class fathers are asked to donate to the Community Chest, Richard strives to impress his wealthy crush, Helene Tucker, by donating more money to the cause than Helen’s father promises to. Although Richard does have the money from the work he performs outside the classroom, his teacher ridicules Richard’s contribution. She announces that Richard really does not have a father, and in doing so destroys his valued image. On behalf of this authority’s actions, this moment haunts Richard for years to follow.

Value is a common intertwining in the three essays presented. Many questions can be asked. How will values be affected by those surrounding? Is it possible to fight back and look beyond just settling down with the simplest idea present? Will defeat be accepted

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