Analytical Reading Exercise


Read the two essays below and answer the following questions about them. To fully understand the context of the stories, it is necessary to know something about the authors, about when they lived and what their lives were like, so read the short biographies of two very influential 20th Century writers, Langson Hughes and George Orwell. Then read their stories about defining moments in their lives. The primary question we will explore when we discuss the stories is how do the ethical choices that both Orwell and Hughes make in these stories from their own lives define them as the men they later become. Hmm . . .



by Langston Hughes




george orwell


Shooting an Elephant

by George Orwell


"The sun never sets on the British Empire." (Quote is not attributed to Orwell but is relevant to his life.)

The British Raj





Instructions: Copy and paste everything under the line below into a MS Word or other word processing document to input your answers.

Write your answers in complete, grammatically correct sentences.  (One or two will suffice; you need not write lengthy paragraphs in response.)


“Shooting an Elephant”


Define the following words as they are meant in the context of the essay.


1.  petty


2.  imperialism


3.  cowed


4.  supplant


5.  prostrate


6.  despotic


7.  labyrinth


8.  conjurer


9.  tyrant


10.  senility


11.  pretext




12.  What paragraphs make up the introduction of the essay?  The body of the essay?  The conclusion?


13.  With what sentence does the narrative proper begin?


14.  What is the thesis statement of the essay?




15.  Why did the natives hate Orwell?


16.  Why did Orwell hate his job?


17.  Why did Orwell shoot the elephant?




Define the following terms as they are meant in the context of the essay.


18.  revival


19.  knickerbockered


20.  punctuated


21.  ecstatic




22.  Is the thesis of the essay stated outright or implied?


23.  What is the thesis of the essay?


24.  How does Westley’s attitude differ from Langston’s?


25.  Why can’t Langston tell Auntie Reed the truth about his experience in the church?




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