Animal Farm by George Orwell

animalfarm_georgeorwellHave you ever hated animals so much that you wanted to eliminate all of them from the face of the earth? I, for sure, haven’t. I can’t imagine what life would be like without any pets or farm animals or zoos. We probably wouldn’t be able to live for long, so it is a ridiculous idea, right?

The animals of Animal Farm don’t seem to agree one bit. They see humans as a threat, who take the fruit of all the animal’s labor and give them hardly anything in return. After being rallied by Old Major, his fellow pigs, Snowball, Squealer and Napoleon run the farmer off the farm. With him gone, they eliminate any human influences, such as the saddles for the horses and the whips the farmers used to show their authority. For a while, the pigs ran the farm peacefully with everyone following the same set of simple rules:

The Seven Commandments (p 24)

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Life seems straightforward, until the pigs, the supposed role models, begin to act more like humans, living in the house, drinking alcohol, learning to walk on their hind legs, and killing other animals, thus breaking five out of the seven rules.

Oddly enough, a story about a group of pigs overthrowing their human farmer and becoming the owners of a farm is captivating. It seems so outrageous that this could even happen, but there was a strong comparison to Stalinist Russia’s own problems. To young readers in this century, the story might have lost some of its meaning, as it was written during the Cold War, where relations between the United States and Russia were strained. Therefore, because  Snowball represents Trotsky, and Napoleon represents Stalin, the younger generation of readers may not fully understand the deeper satirical object of the text. As a result, some research the Russian Revolution beforehand may aid in understanding.

I truly thought this novel was wonderful! It is one of my favorite required reading books. Most memorable for me was the song, Beasts of England. I also loved the reactions of the other farms when they heard that Animal Farm was run by animals. I would have liked to see their faces in real life!

– Leila S., 10th grade

Animal Farm is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360.

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