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Courga In Colin Mc Dougall´S The Firing Squad And George Orwell’s Shooting An Elephant

1310 words - 6 pages

A characters courage is not measured by how an action will be accepted by others, but by how their actions stay true to themselves even in the face of a pressured surrounding. Colin McDougall’s The Firing Squad a story about a young soldiers attempt at redemption and George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant an essay about Orwell’s days in a British colony where he was called to handle the situation with an aggressive elephant are two pieces of literature that demonstrate the effects of courage. Courage takes many forms and in these two great pieces of literature it can be measured by looking at the characters and how they use courage and lack of courage as a driving factor in different ways ...view middle of the document...

He does however pull the most courageous act and refuse to kill Jones right before the execution, saving a life but putting a burden on himself. This act of defiance takes more courage than declining the offer in the first place. Adam’s final decision off refusing to fire, his eagerness, and his want to show the world he was not a coward drives him to make decisions and demonstrates how he wishes to be shown as a courageous soldier.
George Orwell’s character also shows how he wishes to be more courageous than he seemed to be. Sadly Orwell fails to act appropriate to the situation and fails to accomplish his inner courageous goal. Orwell fails because he followed what was wanted by the people and not what was right in his mind as well as not accepting that he made the wrong decision.
Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie. And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.
This passage, a self-justification tool Orwell uses to make himself better. Orwell failure to speak against his actions and attempt to reason with himself that he made the right decision shows the mistake he had made. If Orwell had the courage to face the people and tell them it would be wrong to shoot the elephant he would be labeled a coward by the people, but in our eyes he would be courageous man for saving the life of the elephant. Due to the lack of courage however Orwell will be seen as someone who just succumbed to the wants of the people and not someone courageous who stood up for what they believed was right.

Finally Private John Adam displays his lack of courage with events he has before the final act of courage he had in the end of the story. Adam had many chances leading up to the actual execution to opt out and say that this is wrong and we should not be executing this...

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