George Orwell and Jimmy Cross Character ComparisonIn the two short stories, Shooting an Elephant and the Things They Carried there are certain similarities and differences that George Orwell and Jimmy Cross hold. Each character in the short stories has there own different situation they are in, but they both are in a foreign land and they both have to take orders and do what there country is asking of them.
However, even though each situation is different they both deal with some of the same emotional issues throughout each story. In the story, Shooting an Elephant, George Orwell was a police officer for the British government. In the story it is hard to tell if George was actually forced to go to Burma, but none the less he states, As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear (Orwell 1539). This is almost exactly the same way Jimmy Cross feels in the Things They Carried. Jimmy was a soldier during the Vietnam War. In the story Jimmy holds on to the memories of a girl he has a crush on and dreads every day that he is stuck in Vietnam and away from home.
This plays a huge role in each of the stories mainly because each character is in a situation they dont want to be in, but are forced to deal with. For instance, in Shooting an Elephant George shoots and kills an elephant, but it is more complex than that. George feels in the beginning that he should have to shoot and kill the elephant. By the time George gets to the elephant he thinks differently and changes he thoughts as he states clearly in the story, As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot himI decided that would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home (Orwell 1541). At that moment though George looks around and sees that he has drawn such a huge crowd that is waiting and pressuring him into shooting the elephant. This would not have been a huge thing, but provided that the same crowd that had hated George was now showing interest in him he figured he must shoot the elephant.
This is where he is linked with the other short story the Things They Carried. The Things They Carried showed that life was miserable and that men were not killing for some great glory or honor. Just like George Orwell the men were killing for a different purpose. The men in the Things They Carried were killing to because they were embarrassed not to. In fact the narrator says, Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.
It was what has bought them to war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They killed as to not die of embarrassmentRather they were too frightened to be cowards. (OBrien 1491) This is exactly why Orwell had shot and killed the elephant. George Orwell was so scared of what people may think of him, that is why he shot the elephant. George didnt want to be called a coward or even disregarded less of man then what he already was.
This put George in a situation he never wanted to be in. The same was true for Jimmy in Vietnam. The stories also show explicit detail to how the characters deal with death. In the Things They Carried Jimmy deals with death by guilt. He believes that his soldiers deaths were his fault.
The narrator states that You couldnt burn the blame (OBrien 1492), which refers to that Jimmy was taking all the blame for the death of his fallen soldier. In difference from Jimmy, Orwell did kill the elephant, but he too was taking it hard, but instead of truly accepting it to be his fault he seems to try to make excuses for what he has done. Orwell states I am glad that coolie had been killed; it put me in right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. (Orwell 1544) Orwells strongest point that he makes after he kills the elephant is at the end of the story when he says, I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool. (Orwell 1544)The two characters, George and Jimmy, both shared many of these same emotions throughout each story. George had killed an elephant and was solely holding guilt for it.
While on the other hand Jimmy had watched one of his own soldiers fall and he was holding guilt for that. Each of the two stories gives you the same feeling that is portrayed by each character in how they act and each really make a great forward approach of how they each feel that makes you feel like you down to earth people.