Burmese Days Themes

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The White Man's Burden

Rudyard Kipling published a poem entitled "The White Man's Burden", which is referenced in the text. The poem summarized the concept that the English, or white man, were morally responsible, hence burdened, for the betterment of non-white societies by instilling English values and Christian morality. In a practical sense, the white man's burden was used as the justification for the colonization and exploitation of non-white society and culture, including India and Burma. Characters such as Ellis typify the worst aspects of this ideology—Ellis feels that the natives should completely acquiesce to British domination and exploitation because, he argues, it is in their own best interest to be trampled by the white man. Another ardent supporter of the white man's burden is, curiously, Veraswami. Veraswami considers himself literally inferior to Flory and the other English men, and finds his own race and culture second-rate...

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