The Deepening Lens


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The Deepening Lens

A large number of people have feelings for large animals such as the whales and elephants, while possessing lesser feelings for their fellow humans, and as a result care much for the animals than humans. The issue regarding to individuals caring more for animals than humans is evident from the articles ‘Why We Care about Whales’ by Marina Keegan and Shooting an Elephant’ by George Orwell. Form Marina Keegan’s text, it doesn’t make sense to help rescue thousands of whales while at the same time thousands of humans are suffering at the verge of poverty with no one comes to their aid, this is evident from the phrase “They’re suffocating too, but there’s no town assembly of food. No palpable urgency, no air lifting plane” (p.154).

Large numbers individuals in Ethiopia die due to starvation while thousands of dollars get used to save the lives of whales. The thousands of dollars used to end up into waste considering that a large number of the whales end up dying after translocation to another place. From her essay, the main cause of death for the whales is natural and involves the sea water level that is controlled by the moon, “When the moon gets bored, it kills whales” (P.151). The moon brings along low and high tides thereby affecting the whales. Low tides leave the whales with less water to which they are unable to swim back to the ocean leaving thousands of whales die helpless.

The rescuing of the whales brings about the issues of worthiness between the animal and human lives. “In war movies, a thousand soldiers can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken” (P.153). The phrase above clearly depicts that fellow humans have no feelings for the lost lives of a thousand soldiers but to a single animal’s life. No life is more important than the other as all the lives are the same. The reason is that none of the species are in competition with one another, but we are together for cooperation. It would be difficult for the humans to live without plants and animals and therefore all the lives are significant to the maintenance of a balanced ecosystem. For the animals being less intelligent than the humans does not imply that they don’t possess the survival instincts in the same way the humans use intelligence for survival.

The main worry is that ‘humans are afraid of helping their fellow humans’ (p. 153). According to Keegan, “When we hear that the lady on the next street over has cancer, we don’t see the entire town flock to her house. We push and shove and wet whales all day, then walk home through town past homeless men curled up on benches- washed up like whales on the curb side”(p. 153). The phrase implies that fellow human beings have no feelings of the others, but they care much about the animals that surround them. In another concern, in theory Keegan suggests that the resources should be concentrated on saving the lives of humans and that the ‘Save the Whales’ T-shirts should read ‘Save the Starving Ethiopians’ (p.154). The reason behind is that it is a simple argument logically, simply because we assume that the welfare of animals is more important than that of animals.

‘Shooting an Elephant’ by George Orwell is another essay that depicts the human nature of valuing animals’ life than that of fellow humans. Orwell is caught between considering the British Raj an “unbreakable tyranny” and believing that killing a troublesome villager would be “the greatest joy in the world.”(p. 2). From the essay, we are introduced to Orwell a police officer of the colonial British in the Burmese land. The owner of the elephant had taken a different route and was miles away, and therefore no one else could have tamed the animal. Accompanied by a large crowd, Orwell found the animal calm and feeding and here he thought of leaving the animal there and not provoke it further. As he turned back, he saw the same crowd that used to resent to him and that they wanted the animal killed. According to his opinion, it was not worth killing the elephant, killing it was like destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery (p. 7), and this indicated that Orwell valued the animal more than the lives of the human.

After much consideration, he came into conclusion to kill the elephant so that he could evade ridicule by the locals. After shooting the animal, we are told that he could not stand it watching the animal die writhing in pain “powerless to move and yet powerless to die” (p. 10). For this reason, left the locals jubilated skinning the animal for meat. The fact that he couldn’t stand watching the animal die, is suggestive and further confirms that he valued the life of the animal. Also, we are told that even after justifying that he killed the animal because it killed a human being, he wonders if any of his comrades understood that he killed the elephant ‘solely to avoid looking a fool.’ (p. 10)

Both essays, ‘Why we care about whales’ and ‘Shooting an elephant’ have a similar theme, that valuing animals’ life than that of the human. In both essays, a lot of time is spent in trying to save the animals, but little or no resources are used to cater for the welfare of the needy human beings. From Keegan’s essay, people spend a lot of time saving the whales, while in Orwell’s essay, the police better spare the life of an animal and kill a troublesome man. All lives are worth being protected as they are all useful to one another and therefore one should not be neglected at the expense of another. All species contribute to the balancing of the ecosystem and thus play a vital role in balancing nature. If a certain portion of resources will be set for caring for the animals, a similar proportion as well should be set for the welfare of the humans such as helping the starving individuals in Ethiopia to save human life.

Human beings feel more proud of being associated with saving the life a big animals such as the whales and elephants. The same feeling does not reciprocate when it comes to saving the life of a human being. From Keegan’s essay, the people there proudly spend their time saving the whales and even contributing towards their relocation and feel more proud. On the other hand no one bothers even to show affection to the homeless man in the street as they would not get recognized. The same case is evident from Orwell’s essay whereby we find Orwell contemplating that if it were not for the mocking crowd, he could have saved the elephant, even after it had killed a person and he wasn’t sure whether it would attack again.

Social pressure is evident from the two essays where by the societies behind the context tend to put some considerable amount of pressure to the situations. From Keegan’s essay, the society is on due pressure of saving the whales from beaching, but on the contrary they feel no pressure in trying to help humans. The same aspect of human pressure is evident from Orwell’s essay, whereby the Burmese locals put a lot of pressure on him along his duties. We clearly know that George’s duty is to protect the people from danger, and in the instance that he met the elephant relaxed and feeding, his first thoughts were not to kill it but to observe whether it was still irritated. From the essay, we are told that according to the attitude that the locals had, it is clearly that they wanted him kill the elephant an issue that he hadn’t thought of and this made him change his decision. It is due to the societal pressure that made Orwell kill the elephant against his will and also made the people from Keegan’s essay spend days on the scorching sun trying to water the whales preventing them from death.

The people from which the author’s comes from gives a larger picture that can relate to the experiential evidence as they live from the same environment with the big animals and therefore they have more exposure to the animals. Experiential evidence suggests it may be too easy to immerse ourselves fully into the roles, even the ones that requires us to abandon or even set aside our previous moral commitments. The evidence is prudent from both essays. In Keegan’s essay, her audience are the people from her society and to whom are depicted of having the same characteristic of abandoning their moral duties such as helping their fellow humans. We are told that people from Keegan’s society spent a lot of time and contributed huge lump sum of money to assist in the relocation of the whales but none of them contributed towards helping the poor and homeless.

Besides, in a far country in Ethiopia, people are dying of hunger and there is no to come to their aid as those able are already focused in saving the whales. From Orwell’s essay, the colonialists were of the opinion that killing a large animal which happened to be the elephant was like destroying an expensive furniture and therefore they would spare the life of an animal and kill a fellow human being, an aspect that deviates from the moral values of providing protection to the people form harm.

Humans have a positive attitude towards helping large animals such as the whales and the elephants as it can be noted from the essays. In the contrast no one feels more appreciated when they help the fellow humans for example in Keegans’s essay we are told that the people would spend a whole day in the beach watering the whales but none complained leaving the beach at dusk. The same case is evidenced from Orwell’s essay from the instance to which he says that he only killed the elephant to avoid being ridiculed and as well he had viewed killing the elephant as destroying an expensive treasure. All these have an implication that humans are more likely and willing to help large animals in the expense of their suffering fellow beings as they feel more grateful through helping animals.

Work Cited

Keegan: Why we care about whales. 2009. Retrieved from;, George. Shooting an elephant. McClelland & Stewart, 2016.