Primary Source Analysis In order to determine the validity of a source, to prove it is a primary source and not a secondary source, one must look at several things. There are many aspects about it that show its validity. These include; when the event the source is talking about took place compared to when the author wrote the piece and when they were alive, whether or not it was an eye-witness account, and the reason the author wrote about it. Also in the evaluation process of the source, one must consider the audience in which it was written for, the evidence used to support the author, and the value of it in history.
In examining the article Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell, One can find this article in indeed a valid, reliable primary source. This article was written by George Orwell who wrote it in 1936 shortly following the imperialistic time period of Britain in India. In this article, Orwell describes the situation in which he was dealing with while he was a police officer in Moulmein, in Lower Burma. The first aspect one should look at in deciding whether or not the source is primary is when it was written.
Since this was written soon after the event actually took place, it is easy to say this source is reliable in this aspect.The next thing to look at is the audience. The audience is for the Englishmen back in England and the colonized or the educated of the time. During this time period, there was a lot of hostility and tension between the British trying to keep the peace and the Indian people upset about them being there in the first place. “I was hated by large numbers of people…. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all.
” In this article, Orwell provides very good evidence to support this as a primary source. “In a job like that you see the dirty work of the empire at close quarters.The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos --- all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt. ” This is a first-hand account and proof of what he saw while in India as a police officer. It also touches the emotional side of the experience when he expresses he felt guilt.
By telling the audience about his reaction to the situation, he is giving more evidence to this being a primary source. This quote also helps in evaluate the value in history.It gives the audience reading it a closer look at how conditions were in India during this time. It also helps understanding the time period and how people thought during this time period. It gives insight into how the English were treating the people of India.
Furthermore, “To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away having done nothing --- no that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at. This shows how life wasn’t very good for the white man either during this time period because they didn’t want to be laughed at or thought about in any way other than as the supreme race.
This also helps to further the understanding of the time period in the fact that it gives an inside look into how the poor treatment went both ways. When Orwell actually shoots the elephant, the description he gives of how it happens can lead one to believe the event was very real and he was indeed there to experience it first-hand. When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick ---one never does when a shot goes home --- but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. . .
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. ” With this amount of description, and detail into how it all went down, one can easily come to the conclusion of this being a primary source.Details of how the elephant acted, and looked after being shot, are details only someone who saw it happen first-hand can give. In this article, Orwell has clear biases about the way the English treated the people in India and it shows when he is talking about how he is against what was going on. “I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors the British.
” Deciding whether or not a source is a primary or secondary source can be difficult. There are many steps in the process required to determine if it’s a primary source or not. The author needs to have been alive and old enough to understand what happened.They need to have significant evidence to back up their story enough to prove they were there first-hand. The source needs to provide a value in history, and help modern-day readers understand the time period more, as well as have a clear audience.
George Orwell clearly meets all of these requirements and shows a clear reason to rule this article a primary source. -------------------------------------------- [ 1 ]. Orwell George, “Shooting an Elephant, July 22, 2004, ”, http://www. orwell.
ru/library/articles/elephant/english/e_eleph, [ 2 ]. Ibid, 3. [ 3 ]. Ibid.
[ 4 ]. Ibid, 4 [ 5 ]. Ibid, 5.