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Patrick Skrine

Journalism Period 3
November 22, 2013


IMPERIALISM ESSAY


Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that
its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate, said Edward W. Said.
Edward Said was an author and an English Professor born in Jerusalem. This quote helps explain
the negative effects Imperialism has had on people. Imperialism is when a mother country
takes over a smaller nation or colony for political, economical, and social reasons. Mans free
will has been taken over and has been overruled. In excerpts from Shooting An Elephant by
George Orwell and The Moment Before The Gun Went Off by Nadine Gordimer, the power and
rights have been dismantled from the people within the stories. There are many effects
Imperialism has had on people that suffer from it shaping characterization, perspective, and
point of view of these victims. The saddest effect imperialism has on those who live within its
tenets is imperiousness over other people.

Point of View and Perspective shape characterization of protagonists and speakers. In
Shooting An Elephant, the main character, a police officer is the protagonist. The short story is
told in first person about the officer who receives a phone call about an elephant that has gone
loose in a bazaar. The incident is causing tension and riot like behavior from the Indian tribes.
The main character then goes to the village and sees that the elephant is sitting in a field near
the village calming down. The villagers see the officer go out to the field so they follow him
expecting him to shoot and kill the elephant. However, the police officer doesnt know if he
should actually shoot the elephant or not. The officer feels he doesnt want to kill the elephant.
He knows this through his personal dialogue in the text. However, he also feels that he is going
to have to because the village and the people of these villages are wanting him to shoot the
animal. The officer is pressured to because there are about 2,000 of them behind him watching
and he doesnt want to look like a fool. The imperiousness over other people is symbolized right
here because the police officer is symbolized as the weak link and the village is the stronger
subsystem that has dominance. Sadly enough, the man chooses to shoot the elephant. This
displays a great example of imperialism because countries can be forced into bad situations and
doing bad things and that is what happened to the officer.

The other story, The Moment Before the Gun Went Off is another short story written in
third person. Its about a farm worker by the name of Marais Van de Vyver who while driving
his truck, shoots one of his farm labourers unintentionally. The farm worker that was shot was
of African American descent and it just so happens that at the time of the killing, blacks were
discriminated against. Although Marais is extremely guilty, the rest of the world around him
doesnt care for the situation because they have power over not only the situation, but African
Americans as well. Imperialism is symbolized here because the people suffering from the
negative effects of it, in this case Marais, are having no say and are over-powered. Marais feels
that his sense of say in life, his emotions, and his freedom to express himself are all being hurt.
This all applies to imperiousness over the less fortunate people.
In many cases just like this one, perspective and point of view shape characterization
strongly. The imperiousness over other people has different levels of impact depending on the
point of view you look at it from. In first person, its more personal so if a character is going
through it, then the effect is stronger because its more real. Third person still has effect and
you can still relate to it, but its not as strong as first person from a personal experience
standpoint.

In this case, these two stories have different levels of effect based on imperialism. Even
though two horrible things happened in each story, one is worse because of the perspective
youre looking at it from. In the Orwell story, the reader is able to connect with it more because
you can get inside the head of the protagonist and see what he is feeling and what he is going
through. In the Gordimer story, there is less internal conflict or stream of consciousness all
because of the point of view its told in. Tying into Imperialism, if you read something about a
specific incident that happened to someone involving the problem, it would be more effective
than a more general standpoint of the issue.

I want to have a strong conclusion however, Im still working on it and need more ideas.
Also, maybe more could be added from what I have said so far, but this feedback will be great!

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