George Orwell Marrakech – Reflection

George Orwell is a master at impacting a reader with literature filled with emotion. Marrakech is another one of his works that well demonstrates this. Orwell describes his outlook on the racial hierarchy and living conditions that the poor and neglected are forced to live through day by day in Marrakech.

It is very prevalent the abuse of power displayed in the public streets; it is very clear that there is a dominant force from whites against other races. Orwell realizes this social issue and that he himself hardy sees these poor people or recognizes them as people. A group of women who carry a load of firewood past his house every single day, Orwell describes them as “mummified with age.” Instead of calling these people women, they are referred to as “poor old creatures.” All Orwell states that all he truly saw before noticing these people were just firewood as if they do not exist as people. He then relates this to how mistreated Moroccan donkeys are “the most willing creature on earth, it follows its master like a dog and does not need either bridle or halter. After a dozen years of devoted work, it suddenly drops dead” This is sickening when read and creates a sense of sympathy for the donkey’s harsh lifestyle of work that they are forced to live through with zero rewards. The thought of this mistreatment of animals will enrage a person but when it comes to the suffering of people of a different ethnicity then It becomes tolerable for some, unfortunately.

When Orell sees a group of roughly 5000 Senegalese men marching in order carrying infantry southward in the hot blazing heat of the sun, One of the men catches Orwell’s eye. Not because he was giving Orwell a scruff look which you would expect considering what these men are being forced to do and the state they are in. Instead, he looked at him with a “Not hostile, not contemptuous, not sullen, not even inquisitive” now this to us is obvious that this man has been raised and taught that he must be polite and loyal to white people since they are your masters. Orwell does explain this himself after the interaction, but I find it quite impressive for a white person of his time to be aware of the pain suffering of these people when white supremacy was so common. This we like to think creates some kind of dignity in Orwell’s character but does it really? He is seeing what these people must go through to live and in his mind, he seems to be thinking with what it sounds like as this treatment towards other ethnicities is inhumane. Orwell does not actually say anything about it to anyone or take any action because of the social issue being such a status quo, and this action would most likely get him into a lot of avoidable trouble.

Why is the mistreatment of people with brown skin acceptable, why is it okay to have these people basically vanish from our sight due to how they are alianized. these things are well expressed through the imagery of the black African men carrying the infantry to the firewood that almost seems to move on its own with the women under it going without recognition or thanks.

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George Orwell uses vivid descriptions within his writing. In How the Poor Die Orwell talks about how Hopital X had layed out the ward. “It was a long rather low, ill-lit room, full of murmuring voices and with three rows of beds surprisingly close together.” (p. 278). By saying “murmuring voices” he is describing the quiet conversations between the poor individuals situated within the hospital. Poor not only as without money but unlucky to be living in such a terrible place. Orwell describes Hoptial X to have “a foul smell, faecal and yet sweetish.” (p. 278). He is referring to how the patients are not cleaned properly, leading to them having a terrible smell. The “sweetish smell” Orwell brings up I think to be the smell of the nurses or doctors who come in and out of the hospital. From only a few words Orwell allows us to understand the living conditions of these patients. The name of the anecdote being How the Poor Die may hint as to the idea that the poor die due to “little treatment” as well as how the hospital is a place, they enter alive but exit diseased (p 279).

The anecdotes Orwell shares in the form of essays encompass imagery to allow the readers to better understand his experiences. In Such Such were the Joys Orwell opens to the reader about his childhood.  He shares an experience he remembers quite vividly about the time he was beaten. “The fact the beating had not hurt was a sort of victory and partially wiped out the shame of the bed-wetting… ‘it didn’t hurt,’ I said proudly…” (p. 294). Orwell was beaten as a child due to him not being one of “the rich boys” (p. 298). Boys who were not favoured were beaten and treated as if they were the lowest of the caste system. Orwell revisits the words he had spoken to his friends after the beating, saying that it “didn’t hurt.” This resulted in him being beaten again but we imagine how he must have felt. Or can we? Nowadays students are not beaten, this was a matter of the past and was to discipline the poor or something else? Were children beaten for the enjoyment of power by elders?

Orwell’s essay’s share different experiences from his past. They allow us to enter his mind and truly experience the feelings he felt as well as what he saw. His writing has helped me to to better understand his past along with how poor people, poor children and animals were treated within the past. Allowing me to come to the realization of how much the value of life has changed over time. Has the value of human life become more acknowledged, or does it still need to be fixed? Fixed as in how we choose to view others who are human but live completely different lives from ourselves?

 

 

Personal Response to George Orwell’s Essays

Due to his use of clarity and descriptive realism, George Orwell’s essays are incredibly moving. First, his exploration of dehumanization leaves us feeling both disgusted and sympathetic towards oppressors.  Second, his self-aware comments on pride encourage us to fundamentally question ourselves. Overall, I believe everyone should read Orwell’s essays, as they provoke essential thoughts about humanity. 

In his essays, George Orwell explores how people use dehumanization to cope with the atrocities that their societies force them to commit. From the language that they use to the tones that they take, people use derogation as a defense mechanism. For instance, in “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell attempts to justify shooting the animal because it was dangerous. He claims, “legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog” (p. 40).  By referring to the animal as a “mad elephant”, his view of it shifts. It is no longer a living being, but a creature that must be tamed or killed. Therefore, he supposedly did the right thing. Similarly, in “Marrakech”, Orwell calls the deceased person a “corpse” (p. 1). This is not so much derogatory, as it is descriptive. However, it has the same dehumanizing effect. He then describes how people with brown faces are treated as “undifferentiated brown stuff, . . . [who] rise out of the earth, [then] sweat and starve for a few years, and then sink back into the nameless mounds” (p. 1). The reality for people in this town, specifically people of colour, was so brutal. Hence, people would treat them as inferior or unhuman, to justify their laborious and inhumane lives. Beyond that, Orwell explores this dehumanization in “How the Poor Die”. Throughout this piece, he describes how patients are treated as “animals” (p. 278), “specimens” (p. 280), and “piece[s] of refuse” (p. 283). Furthermore, patients are labelled as numbers, meaning others call them “Numéro ___” rather than their names. These details all contribute to the dehumanization of patients within hospitals. Using this derogatory language makes it easier for hospital employees to treat the patients passively, rather than empathetically. Meaning, this dehumanization is a tactic to protect the workers from enormous amounts of guilt and grief. This may be unethical, but it was the only way for the employees to cope with their challenging positions. Ultimately, Orwell’s clarity and descriptiveness surrounding inhumane treatment is both horrifying and moving. However, when we consider why people do this, we start to understand. It might be haunting and sickening, but it also serves as protection against potentially intolerable empathy.

Deconstructing our harmful egos could be a partial solution to the issues raised on Orwell’s work. In “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell admits that he killed the animal out of fear for being laughed at (p. 40). In “Such, Such Were the Joys”, he admits that he did not ask his parents to leave the oppressive boarding school, due to his embarrassment regarding his unpopularity and unhappiness. People, in our status-based society, will protect their pride at all costs. They will shoot an elephant to “avoid looking [like] a fool” (p. 40). They will blame the homeless for their societal statuses, rather than blaming the systems that make it impossible to escape poverty. They will stay at schools that destroy their physical and mental health, to avoid admitting their social rejection and misery. Cowardice, shame, and embarrassment motivate people to commit regrettable actions. If we start to recognize why we do these things, we may start to stray away from harmful and habitual behaviors. As we see in Orwell’s work, we get pulled into detrimental cycles. We try so hard to protect ourselves from vulnerability, to preserve our statuses, and to conceal our identities. By using techniques to deconstruct these habits, we could help so many people reflect on their lives, and choose empathetic solutions to problems. Now–I realize that this is easier said than done. I am certainly not trying to claim that reflection will instantaneously combat trauma. However, if we collectively attempt to focus less on our egos, and more on perpetuating justice and decency, I believe our society will see improvement.

Personal Response: George Orwell

From reading some of George Orwell’s essays, I felt that the most incredible thing about them is the use of language. All of his essays that I read so far made me feel uneasy because of the vivid and (mostly) unpleasant imagery. Even though there are many descriptions here and there, his language is very concise. It seems like he always knew exactly which words to use to achieve the best effect.

“A mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralyzed him without knocking him down.” (Shooting an elephant, p. 38)

Every word in the paragraph above is powerful. “Stricken” and “Shrunken” both start  with the “sh” sound and end with a sharp “ken.” They are words that produce a very active imagery. On the surface level, the “mysterious, terrible change” is the irreversible death of the elephant. But the elephant would never know why it was suddenly killed, nor would it know Orwell’s inner struggle before pulling the trigger.

There’s something about how he depicts animals (and sometimes humans that resemble animals) that deeply moves me. In Marrakech, he describes an old lady as an “old creature,” a “beast of burden” who “crept past (him)” (p. 4). He points out how ironic it is that while we get angry from seeing animals being exploited, the “plight” of humans does not move us at all, and we’d rather ignore it. As we have discussed in class, perhaps this is a defence mechanism. To mistreat someone, you must first dehumanize them and “downgrade” them into beasts. But the worst case would be to ignore them completely. Since most of us would rather forget these things and continue living our lives in comfort and heedlessness, we develop a selective blindness. This is a by-product of imperialism. Some people seem to benefit from this systematic exploitation, but in the back of their minds linger a tingling guilt and ego that “(destroys) his own freedom” (p. 36). No one ultimately wins in this system.

I also resonated with Orwell’s Such, such were the Joys. The line that raised many thoughts is “Even a creature that is weak, ugly, cowardly, smelly and in no way justifiable still wants to stay alive and be happy after its own fashion” (p. 334). Here, Orwell also uses the word “creature” and the pronoun “it.” Since humans are animals, our first instinct is survival. Animals do not have sins (if you know that they do, please correct me), there’s only survival or death. But its a more complicated case for humans.

My very, very naïve interpretation is this: Sin is some kind of contradiction between our thoughts and our instinct. We have all felt ashamed or guilty from time to time (even if we didn’t do anything). Sometimes it might even seem like some people are just born sinful. Despite that, humans will always strive for life, even if some of us are poorer, weaker, uglier, or more vile. Not only do we want to live, we also want to live happily. So long as we live, we are sinful. But that’s why we are a bit different from animals, if I can boldly assume that animals have no sins.

Personal Response to Orwell’s essays

George Orwell was a renowned writer who wrote many essays in his life which would become very popular in the literature world. The essays we have read were The Spike, A Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, Such, Such Were the Joys, How the Poor Die, and Marrakech. At first, when reading these essays, I quickly got bored and didn’t take much interest in them, but I later realized how good they were. The stories were interesting to read with his personal experiences and the detail put in the writing.

My favourite part of Orwell’s writing technique was detailed in the plot and each character, and the language use to carry out the tone of the essay. For example, in How the Poor Die, the words associated with “Death” like “Died”, “Dying”, and “Dead” carried a dark tone with imagery that’s sad and depressing, it shows a place that nobody wants to go to.

My favourite essay by Orwell was Marrakech. This essay is about the poor living conditions in Marrakech and the Jewish society living there. It gives a vivid description of the poor, and harsh living conditions which portray the poverty, discrimination, and death in the city. In the first paragraph, Orwell opens with the flies being attracted to the corpse being walked through the city in rags, then buried in a random spot.

“As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later”

It gives the reader that sense of pity for the people who are forced to live in poverty their entire lives. Orwell was very good at setting the tone through the first paragraph of the essay. He later goes on to describe the scene where he is in good detail.

“Many of the streets are a good deal less than six feet wide, the houses are completely windowless, and sore-eyed children cluster everywhere in unbelievable numbers, like clouds of flies. Down the centre of the street there is generally running a little river of urine.”

“In the bazaar huge families of Jews, all dressed in the long black robe and little black skull-cap, are working in dark fly-infested booths that look like caves”

Again, it gives that sense of guilt and pity to the readers that keeps them engaged which makes a good story. It also gives a good sense of reality and what people have to live and go through each day to get by which this essay clearly shows. 

 

Personal Response to Orwell’s Essays

Introduction 

Orwell’s Essays is a book that includes multiple essays by George Orwell. In our English class we only read the following essays: The Spike, A Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, How the Poor Die, Such, such were the joys, and Marrakech (separate handout).  

 

The essays that I thought were the most thought provoking and interesting to read, were: The Spike, and Shooting an Elephant. In this I will express my personal thoughts on each of the essays we read as homework and in class.  

 

The Spike 

This story made me think about the challenges of being homeless in London during the 1920’s. The things in this story that I found to be the most thought provoking was the fact that they knew who had been educated and not. Also, the entire concept of the facility was sort of interesting, with the homeless people being pretty much in a prison like facility with food, clothes, and sanitary facilities. But the catch is that they have to do work, which is the same as normal prisons, but you end up being able to leave after a certain amount of time. The Spike also had the Tramp Major who was pretty much the equivalent to a warden. I personally enjoyed this book, it was interesting to read, and was a short read.  

 

Shooting an Elephant  

This story to me represented an extreme form of peer pressure and wanting to not look like a fool. This beginning thought, mostly stems from the constant harassment of the locals of Moulmein, which is under the British Regime. The most thought-provoking part was when he is deciding about whether or not to kill the elephant or leave it be and left it cool off from its “must.” He thinks about how he will look if he does not shoot the elephant and ends up making his mind to shoot it, because “Orwell realizes that he committed to killing the elephant the moment he ordered that he be brought a rifle.” and that “His entire mission as a colonialist, he says, is not to be laughed at—thus, sparing the elephant is not an option.” Personally, I enjoyed this story because of the imaginative nature of it of like the elephant running rampant among a city in Burma, while the whole crowd of Locals is on a hill watching George Orwell aim his rifle at an elephant on a road next to a rice field, like to me that is an interesting scene.