Garret Little Professor Monteverde

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Garret Little

Professor Monteverde

WR 121, Sec. 29

13 March 2006

The Value of Death

Death is a something we don’t like to think much of. Society has shaped us to think that we will always be young. Death is hard for anyone to go through. In the essays “Shooting an Elephant” and “The Death of the Moth,” death is shown in two different ways. Death is observed, and studied, between two completely different species. George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” and Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth” shows that despite size or value, death is emotional.

Size plays a huge role when it comes to death. We usually view a death of a larger living creature more serious than a smaller one. Even though death is death, whether it is a small creature or large, we seem to sympathize more for the larger one. A moth is small, something we don’t think much of. A moth is so suddle and quiet. Moths make nearly no noise, and are perceived as harmless. We won’t even notice a moth that may be in our home. A moth keeps to itself, not indulging into anyone’s life. Its small body generally is found hovering quietly around bright lights at night.

While a moth is such a small, quiet creature, an elephant is the exact opposite. Elephants are strong, large animals. We would never miss the opportunity to see an elephant in our sight. They are large, ancient animals that have the ability to crush a human. Elephants stand tall like a horse, and are as bulky as a bull. They are

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Intimidating as they sway their long trunks from side to side. You can hear an elephant walk as its huge feet trample across the ground.

The value within each creature is much different. How much value does a moth have to people? A moth can do nothing but live its short life, avoiding everything. A moth has no actual value to us. We see a moth and walk by it, not caring or even thinking much about it. They are an every-day creature that seems to be on this earth to only accompany the other living creatures. A moth does not perform any special task for us, nor does it carry any kind of valuable substance or necessity that we strive for. We don’t see a moth as something useful, but just another “bug” that fly’s hopelessly.

Elephants are valued by not only us, but even more in other countries. We pay money to see elephants, whether it be in a zoo or during a circus act. In other countries elephants do much more. Elephants are seen as machines, nearly just as valuable as humans, they can carry heavy loads, and can be ridden. As said in the essay “Shooting an Elephant,” it is nearly a crime to kill a working elephant. They are placed up on a pedestal are valued to us. They are hard workers, grazing fields, and pulling carriages around for harvesting. In the story, they also are a great means of food. Following the elephant’s death in “Shooting an Elephant,” people were harvesting the elephant for meat, like a pack of wolves over a dead cow.

Though the differences between the moth and the elephant are so dramatic, the two stories compare something that is similar between the two. The moth is so small and innocent, that death generally would be overlooked, not caring at all. In “The Death of

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The Moth,” the moth’s death was valued. It was emotional, as the character in the story wanted to help the moth. Wolf watched the moth struggle for life, before its death. The

Moth waved its wings and moved its legs vigorously as it fought to live. The moth’s life is so short, and nearly meaningless to us, though when carefully observed, the moth’s death was emotional. Wolf wanted the moth to live realizing it hadn’t lived long, though sadly there was nothing she could do.

The elephant’s death was much different, more brutal and painful than the moth. The elephant too, fought for life, breathing and gasping for every last breath it could get. The author writes how the death was too much for him to watch, and leaves the scene after he had tried to end the suffering elephant’s life. It was just as emotional as the moth’s death. He didn’t want to shoot the elephant, just as Wolf in “The Death of the Moth” wanted to save the moth. It was hard for Orwell to watch the elephant die.

Despite the differences between the two species, the death was the same. They both were emotional hardships, watching as each creature died hopelessly. The two stories showed how death had the same kind of impact, even though a moth’s death generally would be overlooked much more than an elephant.

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