The Elephant - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Slowomir Mrozek

The Elephant

This story mocks the authoritarian rule in Poland. The director of the Zoological Gardens represents the authoritarian bureaucracy.

The director of the zoo rose in his post very fast. He had no real interest in the animals of the zoo. So, there were many shortcomings in the zoo. Lack of an elephant was one of them.

On the anniversary of the liberation, on 22nd July, the staff were notified that the zoo would have an elephant. The director had written a letter to Warsaw asking for an elephant in a more economic way.

To save money and energy, the director had planned to make a life-size rubber elephant and fill it with air. It would be painted with the correct color so that nobody would be able to say it was unreal. Then, it would be placed behind the railings. A notice about the elephant’s laziness would be pasted on the railings.

The Ministry approved the director’s plan. Then, he ordered his workers to make the rubber elephant. Two workers were given the task to fill the air in the carcass at night. They secretly hid in a workshop and started their work. Soon they became tired but they could blow the air into the rubber elephant hardly a few inches up. So, they were worried.

While taking rest, they saw a gas pipe and decided to fill the elephant with gas. Their idea worked. The next morning, the elephant was kept in the center of the zoo just beside the monkey cage in front of a large rock.

The first visitors were a group of students from a local school. When they reached in front of the elephant, the teacher started giving them an objective lesson about it. The students were amazed to see the magnificent elephant along with the teacher’s description. Sincere students were hurriedly taking notes. But suddenly a strong wind lifted the elephant in the air. Then, it disappeared into the sky. The monkeys were also surprised. The students also did not believe their teachers thereafter. They turned themselves into hooligans. 

Important Questions Solutions:

1. What relation do you find between the character of the zoo director and the condition of the animals he chooses to exhibit? [2059]
Ans. From the condition of the animals in the zoo, we can guess that the zoo director is a selfish and greedy man who wants to get promotion by unfair means. He is a corrupt official. In his zoo, the giraffe has a short neck, the badger does not dig holes and the whistler whistles unwillingly. This shows that either the animals are duplicate ones or they are malnourished. He does not know the educational significance of the animals kept at the zoo. So, he plans to keep the rubber elephant in the zoo instead of keeping the real elephant. He only values numbers than quality. So, his zoo has got three thousand rabbits but not an elephant.

2. How does the way the elephant will be constructed, what it will be filled with and how it will be labeled satirize the governmental bureaucracy in Poland? [2061]
Ans. The rubber elephant is the symbol of political propaganda. Similarly, the zoo director is the symbol of bureaucracy of Poland. It seems real to the people but on keen examination proves to be false and duplicate. The zoo director says that the rubber elephant will be filled by air and painted properly. Since it will not move, they will keep a notice on the railing saying that this particular elephant is particularly sluggish. This plan shows that the bureaucracy of Poland thinks the people as puppets. They think that the general public can not understand what is true and what is false. They think that general public can be easily cheated. The rubber elephant is hollow inside which shows that the promise of the bureaucracy of Poland is hollow. The development of the country is like the elephant which will shake even on slight disturbance.

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