Orwell uses himself as a character in this piece, in the service of irony. Another character is a dog. We found the dog to be a brilliant, devastating, well-exploited detail.

This is an excellent study in when to “show” and when to “tell.” The 10th paragraph, a reflection on life, death and execution, lends the piece weight, humanity, exceptional insight. He exhorts us readers to pay attention: “He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone—one mind less, one world less.” Without the paragraph (of which this quote is a part), the piece might lack the moral bearings it so clearly advances.

Read “A Hanging,” by George Orwell

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