A Hanging Analysis
“A Hanging” by George Orwell is a powerful short story on capital punishment. A Hindu man from Burma was taken out of his cell and walked down to be hung. The story never explains why the man was ever arrested and sentenced to death. At the beginning, the narrator doesn’t seem to care about taking a man down to his death because he’s just doing his job. But when the prisoner goes around a puddle of water, everything changes. At this point, the narrator realizes that this man is no different than any other person out there. The narrator’s conscience starts to take over and begins to grow a connection with this unknown prisoner. “it is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man[,]” said the narrator. After the prisoner stepped around the puddle, the narrator noticed that he has no right to take this man’s life.
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The prisoner, just like any other person, deserves to live a long life. At the beginning, the narrator didn’t see the prisoner as a person, he saw him as just another part of his job. Now, the narrator sees him just as he sees any other regular person. He notices that he can still think like anyone else, he’s body still functions properly, and that he’s breathing the same air as he is.
And as the narrator said, this prisoner wasn’t dying, he was as alive as everyone else. What can this man have done not to deserve a second chance? Even though the author never asked the question, one notices that the narrator thought about it. The narrator’s conscience believes that everyone deserves a second chance to life and unfortunately, the prisoner was never given a second chance. At this point, for all one knows, the prisoner could have just been used as an example to the community of what happens to people when they break the law, even though it’s a small crime.
Or he could have been the worse criminal in history. No one will ever know. But the fact that no one knows the reason why the Hindu man is sentenced to death, makes the reader feel more connected to the prisoner and makes the reader think the same way as the narrator. At the end, the Hindu man was finally hung. The story starts to build silence and awkwardness among the narrator and his coworkers. Not knowing on how to react towards the hanging of a man, another soldier made a funny comment on the situation and everyone laughed.
But it wasn’t a regular laughter, it was a nervous laughter. This shows how everyone, specially the narrator, was looking for ways to turn the hanging around and find a comfort zone to the situation. He didn’t want to feel the guilt of taking a man’s live away. The discomfort caused the narrator to start drinking. The narrator wasn’t the only man drinking there, showing that he wasn’t the only person who grew emotions for the prisoner. The other soldiers also knew that the prisoner deserved a second chance as well.