Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Published: 1945; Pages: 128
Genre: Classic Fiction; Satire
Animal Farm briefly summarized: One night after Mr. Jones goes to bed, Old Major, the prizewinning boar at Manor Farm tells the other animals about a dream he had in which the animals revolt against Mr. Jones in order to live a life of freedom–away from the oppression and inequality they are dealt from man. Old Major dies shortly after but three young pigs, Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer, carry on the spirit of the revolution when they overthrow Mr. Jones and create Animal Farm—a place where all animals are equal and work together for the group not the individual.
Why did I wait so long to read this book? Before reading this book I had only read a handful of Orwell’s essays, which I enjoyed, but friends have talked about disliking his books, especially Nineteen-Eighty Four, so I always stayed away (though I own both). But what a clever little gem. It’s been a while since I read such tongue-in-cheek satire that had me giggling out loud. I kept reading little bits to my husband who said, “sounds like communism.” Yup, that’s the point. At the core of Animal Farm is Orwell’s satirical look at Stalin and Communist Russia.
But while I did my fair share of giggling when reading, this book nor the subject matter are funny when looked at through the lens of real life. The animals create seven commandments, the base of which all animals are equal and shouldn’t act like man in anyway. The problem is that not every animal on Animal Farm were equal and the leaders quickly emerged and began spreading propaganda throughout the farm. But propaganda leads to deceit and justification for inconsistencies and soon the animals are right back to where they start. Scary to think about how prophetic or at least telling this little novel is.
If you haven’t already read Animal Farm, I highly recommend it. The book reads like a story-time allegory and Orwell’s language is very accessible. The animal characters are as well-developed as they could be in such a short book, and the animal stereotypes worked to further highlight the satire of the novel. Honestly, I don’t have any complaints about the book at all. It’s been a month since I finished it, and it took me longer to read than I would have liked (no fault of Orwell), but it’s one of those that I can see myself reading again and again in the future and continuing to take more from it each time.
Some notable quotes:
Squealer: “Comrades…I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsbility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napolean that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?” (59).
“These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the week…” (85)
“They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out” (106).
Have you read Animal Farm? What did you think? What else would you recommend by Orwell?