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A Hanging by George Orwell is a harsh, wake up call as to how cold and blind the
human race can be. This story takes place in Burma, India in the 1940’s. Orwell is a
warder for a prison in Burma and he tells about his one experience as he prepares and
puts a prisoner to death.
They all gathered around him, six warders, and walked the prisoner out of his cell
and towards the gallows. The prisoner went calmly but was very afraid – for his life is
coming to an end in a mere 2 minutes and there is nothing he can do to change that. As
the prisoner makes his way to the gallows, Orwell watches the him as he walks and
notices that he came upon a puddle and steps aside to avoid getting his feet
dirty, even though he is about to be put to death. Orwell starts to realize that the prisoner
is a human being with feelings and thoughts, who is about to be cut short of his life.
As they were walking to the gallows, into the yard comes this dog. Wild and
happy to see so many people together, he went round the men, barking and wagging his
whole body around. In an instant, the dog made a dash for the prisoner, trying to lick his
face. The superintendent of the prison became angry, for he wanted to get along with the
execution so in that way the other prisoners can get there breakfast.
They escorted the prisoner to the gallows. Two warders then placed a noose
around his neck and tightened it. The prisoner then began to cry out to his god – “Ram!
Ram! Ram!” (Orwell, A Hanging, 234). It was a steady and rhythmical cry, not fearful
and urgent. In hearing this sound, the dog answered with a whine. The warders then put a
cotton bag over his face, but the sound muffled by the cloth, over and over again.
Throwing up his head, the superintendent made a swift motion with his stick.
“Chalo” he shouted fiercely. There was a clanking noise, and then dead silence. The...
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