Often in literature as in life, people are swayed by the opinions of others. For most people the idea of not fitting in or being laughed at is a frightening thing. People go to extremes to avoid the embarrassment. The short story's "A Shocking Accident- and "Shooting an Elephant- show the length men will go to, to avoid humiliation. .
In "A Shocking Accident-, a freak accident leads to the unfortunate demise of a young boy, Jerome's father. He is so embarrassed that his father died after being crushed by a falling pig in Italy that he makes up multiple elaborate interpretations of how his father died. The author however reveals to us through characterization, that perhaps Jerome is not embarrassed him about the way his father died, but rather that others find it laughable, diminishing his father's honor. Jerome is so afraid of people's reactions to his father's death that he never tells his own fiancé. Weeks before the wedding, Jerome becomes very anxious of his soon to be wife meeting his loud mouthed aunt. He feels in his heart that if the woman he loves laughs at the story of his father death, he could not wed her. Imagine, throwing everything away because you were too afraid of facing humiliation. Ironically, when she heard the story, she treated it with genuine compassion and concern, something no one else outside his family had done.
Another example of someone willing to throw away something important to avoid being laughed at comes from the short story, "Shooting an Elephant."" An Englishman, working as a policeman in Burma, is hated by everyone around him. While on duty, he is asked to take care of an out-of-control elephant. For protection, he grabs a large gun. The sight of this draws attention in the town and soon he is being followed by thousands of cheering men (similar to the crowds gathered watch the Salem witch hang.) When he finds the elephant he does not intend to use the gun, his plan is to sit and wait for the owner.