Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie. And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool. (Orwell, Buscemi and Smith 7th ed. 8)
Next, Orwell makes reference to the main idea that he originally states in paragraph seven. At that point in the narrative, he is approaching the elephant, sees that it was no longer dangerous, and does not want to shoot it, but with the huge crowed of people expecting him to act, he knows that he must. The highlighted sentences of paragraph seven express Orwell's main idea in varying terms.
And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd -- seeming the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives,' and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I went for the rifle. A sahib has got to do definite things. 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. ( 8)
Finally, Orwell magnifies the impact of his main idea, and elevates his credibility, through an admission of his moral cowardliness. He says that "And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant" (8). To say that he is glad for the death of a human being simply because it gave him legal cover and let him hide his moral cowardliness is astounding. But our repulsion at this admission is mitigated by our respect for his honesty. Orwell is willing to come clean for the sake of showing the morally corrosive effects of imperialism on those collaborate with it.
This is a good conclusion to the essay because Orwell explicitly marks it as a conclusion with a transitional word, he repeats his main idea, and he enhances the impact of this idea by explicitly admitting to his own moral failure.
Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal. Not to do so would surely have led to madness. I now take precautions to make myself less threatening. I move about with care, particularly late in the evening. I give a wide berth to nervous people on subway platforms during the wee hours, particularly when I have exchanged business clothes for jeans. If I happen to be entering a building behind some people who appear skittish, I may walk by, letting them clear the lobby before I return, so as not to seem to be following them. I have been calm and extremely congenial on those rare occasions when I've been pulled over by the police.
And on late-evening constitutionals I employ what has proved to be an excellent tension-reducing measure: I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and the more popular classical composers. Even steely New Yorkers hunching toward nighttime destinations seem to relax, and occasionally they even join in the tune. Virtually everybody seems to sense that a mugger wouldn't be warbling bright, sunny selections from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country. (Staples, Buscemi and Smith 7the ed. 262-263)
The textbook editors include this essay in the section titled "Examples and Illustration." However, they might just as well have included it with the cause and effect essays since the conclusion tells the survival tactics that Staples learned to employ because of having been perceived as a threat so frequently.
The conclusion also makes a connection to Staples' main idea and its corollary in the introduction where he says that he is perceived as a threat by others, and this in turn puts him in danger. However, the ties between the introduction and the conclusion are established not by an explicit restatement of his ideas, but by a repetition of language that describes the way he is perceived and the danger that this poses.
In the introduction he writes that he must have "seemed menacingly close" to the lone woman who ran from him (261). She was "terrified" and from her he learned that he had "the ability to alter public space in ugly ways" (261), Because he was "indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area from the surrounding ghetto," he was at risk whenever he encountered a "dicy situation" involving frightened people or the police (261).
In the conclusion, his language reflects the themes of fear from others and the consequent danger to himself that he describes in the introduction. In the conclusion he says that as a way of avoiding trouble, he gives "a wide birth to nervous people" and avoids walking behind those "who appear skittish." And when dealing with the police he is "extremely congenial" (263). He now uses the "excellent tension-reducing measure" of whistling tunes from classical composers (263). Thus, the main ideas stated explicitly in the introduction are brought to mind by the descriptive language in the conclusion.
Finally, Staples uses a striking metaphor to describe a defensive tactic he has learned to use. His last sentence says that "warbling bright, sunny selections from Vivaldi's Four Seasons is his "equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear county" (263). This vivid image makes us appreciate the conditions that Staples must cope with and enlists our sympathy by identifying him not with the predatory bear, that he is so often presumed to be, but with the vulnerable hiker, the bear's prey.
We might say that the conclusion begins when Woolf recognizes that the moth is dying. At the end of paragraph four she writes,
The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again. (Woolf, Buscemi and Smith 7the ed. 52)
|The insignificant little creature now knew death. As I looked at the dead moth, this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder. Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange. The moth having righted himself now lay most decently and uncomplainingly composed. O yes, he seemed to say, death is stronger than I am. (52)|
Animal experiments involving the effectiveness of drugs are always faced with the problem of whether or not the efficacy observed in the laboratory can be generalized to human subjects. Will what works in a rat work in a human? A similar question might be asked about this essay: Is the lesson Woolf abstracts from her observation of the moth valid for human being given the vast difference between the two?
She believes so. The moth is seen not only as a distinct specimen of its kind, but also as a symbol of life itself, the mysterious essence that imbues every creature. She makes the symbolic significance of the moth clear. She says that in "Watching him, it seemed as if a fibre, very thin but pure, of the enormous energy of the world had been thrust into his frail and diminutive body" (51). And again, "It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zigzagging to show us the true nature of life" (51).
In us life may be "humped and bossed and garnished and cumbered," but it is the same "pure bead of life" that she saw so distinctly in the moth (51).
Woolf gives a good conclusion to her essay because it continues the contrast between the moth and great, impersonal power that overwhelms it and implies a main idea for her narrative.
Pain-killing drugs are among the greatest advances in the history of medicine. Properly used, they can be a boon in alleviating suffering and in treating disease. But their indiscriminate and promiscuous use is making psychological cripples and chronic ailers out of millions of people. The unremitting barrage of advertising for pain-killing drugs, especially over television, has set the stage for a mass anxiety neurosis. Almost from the moment children are old enough to sit upright in front of a television screen, they are being indoctrinated into the hypochondriac's clamorous and morbid world. Little wonder so many people fear pain more than death itself.
It might be a good idea if concerned physicians and educators could get together to make knowledge about pain an important part of the regular school curriculum. As for the populace at large, perhaps some of the same techniques used by public-service agencies to make people cancer- conscious can be used to counteract the growing terror of pain and illness in general. People ought to know that nothing is more remarkable about the human body than its recuperative drive, given a modicum of respect. If our broadcasting stations cannot provide equal time for responses to the pain-killing advertisements, they might at least set aside a few minutes each day for common-sense remarks on the subject of pain. As for the Food and Drug Administration, it might be interesting to know why an agency that has energetically warned the American people against taking vitamins without prescriptions is doing so little to control over-the-counter sales each year of billions of pain-killing pills, some of which can do more harm than the pain they are supposed to suppress. (Cousins, Buscemi and Smith 7the ed. 279)
Paragraph twelve also make reference to the primary cause of this problem. In the introduction Cousin's writes: "For years we have had it drummed into us -- in print, on radio, over television, in everyday conversation -- that any hint of pain is to be banished as though it were the ultimate evil" (276-77). Restating this in the conclusion he says: "Almost from the moment children are old enough to sit upright in front of a television screen, they are being indoctrinated into the hypochondriac's clamorous and morbid world" (279).
So paragraph twelve satisfies one of the primary desiderata of a conclusion: It harkens back to the the introduction and restates the writer's main idea. Cousins might have ended his essay here. Why did he add another paragraph? What does it do?
In paragraph thirteen, he makes suggestions about how to correct the problem he has identified. He appeals to doctors and teachers to educate the young; he appeals to broadcasters to provide information to counter drug advertisers; and he suggests that the Food and Drug Administration might exert a firmer control over the marketing of pain killers.
In this last paragraph, Cousins switches modes of discourse from cause and effect to problem and solution. The introduction stated a condition and the body discussed its causes. Having identified the causes, he then suggests how to ameliorate the problem. Thus, the essay illustrates how different modes of discourse can be used in conjunction with one another.
In all this the behavior of the wasp evidently is qualitatively different from that of the spider. The wasp acts like an intelligent animal. This is not to say that instinct plays no part or that she reasons as man does. But her actions are to the point; they are not automatic and can be modified to fit the situation. We do not know for certain how she identifies the tarantula -- probably it is by some olfactory or chemo-tactile sense -- but she does it purposefully and does not blindly tackle a wrong species.
On the other hand, the tarantula's behavior shows only confusion. Evidently the wasp's pawing gives it no pleasure, for it tries to move away. That the wasp is not simulating sexual stimulation is certain, because male and female tarantulas react in the same way to its advances. That the spider is not anesthetized by some odorless secretion is easily shown by blowing lightly at the tarantula and making it jump suddenly. What, then, makes the tarantula behave as stupidly as it does?
No clear, simple answer is available. Possibly the stimulation by the wasp's antennae is masked by a heavier pressure on the spider's body, so that it reacts as when prodded by a pencil. But the explanation may be much more complex. Initiative in attack is not in the nature of tarantulas; most species fight only when cornered so that escape is impossible. Their inherited patterns of behavior apparently prompt them to avoid problems rather than attack them. For example, spiders always weave their webs in three dimensions, and when a spider finds that there is insufficient space to attach certain threads in the third dimension, it leaves the place and seeks another, instead of finishing the web in a single plane. This urge to escape seems to arise under all circumstances, in all phases of life and to take the place of reasoning. For a spider to change the pattern of its web is as impossible as for an inexperienced man to build a bridge across a chasm obstructing his way.
In a way the instinctive urge to escape is not only easier but often more efficient than reasoning. The tarantula does exactly what is most efficient in all cases except in an encounter with a ruthless and determined attacker dependent for the existence of her own species on killing as many tarantulas as she can lay eggs. Perhaps in this case the spider follows its usual pattern of trying to escape, instead of seizing and killing the wasp, because it is not aware of its danger. In any case, the survival of the tarantula species as a whole is protected by the fact that the spider is much more fertile than the wasp. (Petrunkevitch, Buscemi and Smith 7the ed. 85)
The topic sentence of paragraph fifteen signals the transition from the body to the conclusion: "In all this the behavior of the wasp evidently is qualitatively different from that of the spider" (84). The expression "In all this," refers back to the process just described. The term "qualitatively different, " indicates that the writer is about to begin a summary that contrasts the behavior of the wasp with the spider. This is confirmed by two subtopic sentences that focus attention first on the wasp: "The wasp acts like an intelligent animal" (84) and then on the spider: "On the other hand, the tarantula's behavior shows only confusion" (85). This contrast ends with a rhetorical question: "What, then, makes the tarantula behave as stupidly as it does?" (85). This question is followed by a discussion of possible explanations in paragraphs seventeen and eighteen .
The best explanation for the behavior of the spider appears to be that its "urge to escape seems to arise under all circumstances, in all phases of life and to take the place of reasoning" (83). The wording here recalls the main idea sentence where the author refers to "instinct" being pitted against "intelligence" (82). The same idea is suggested again in paragraph eighteen where the author says that "Perhaps in this case the spider follows its usual pattern of trying to escape [its instinct], instead of seizing and killing the wasp [an intelligent response], because it is not aware of its danger" (83). So this conclusion illustrates the common practice of tying up the essay by making reference back to the main idea stated in the introduction.
After posing the question, the writer of a scientific paper reviews the literature on the topic. In Petrunkevitch's essay, he sets his question in the context of the more general topic of the interaction between species when a predator is dependent on the prey for propagation. He gives a summary of what is known without the formality and documentation of a scientific publication.
After reviewing the literature, the writer of a scientific report then states his hypothesis. The hypothesis is the predicted outcome of the experiment, the most likely answer to the question that he has posed. Likewise, Petrunkevitch concludes his general discussion of predators and prey with a statement of his main idea. This is what he believes to be the most reasonable explantation for the behavior of the spider when attacked by the wasp.
The next step for the writer of a scientific report is to explain the design and conduct of his experiment, including a description of the variables and the way they were manipulated. Petrunkevitch is not reporting on an experiment but is writing a process essay for lay readers based on observation, so he only tells what he and others have seen in many encounters between spiders and wasps.
Nevertheless, the analogy between the report of the scientist and the essay by Petrunkevitch is valid since the experiment by the scientist and the observations by Petrunkevitch each produce a body of evidence from which they can draw conclusions.
Following the explanation of what was done in the experiment, the scientist then gives the results and discusses them. He notes whether or not they confirm his main idea (his hypothesis). This discussion constitutes the the main part of the conclusion although the experimenter may make suggestions for further research into the topic.
Petrunkevitch also discusses the outcome of encounters between spiders and wasps and considers possible explanations for it. Both the report writer and Petrunkevitch work inductively by analyzing the facts and then making judgments about the causes of what they see. As noted above, Petrunkevitch draws a conclusion that is consistent with the main idea stated in his introduction. The evidence supports his hypothesis that the Tarantula succumbs because it "does exactly what is most efficient in all cases except in an encounter with a ruthless and determined attacker dependent for the existence of her own species on killing as many tarantulas as she can lay eggs" (85).
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