Sunday, November 21, 2010

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm begins with the drunken owner of The Manor Farm, Mr. Jones, mistreating all of his animals and underfeeding them to the point where they begin a plan to rebel. The animals, led by two pigs, decide that they will kick Jones and his family out of the farm and take over and run it themselves. Once Jones is expelled from the farm, they lock the doors and start business. Their main goal is to reach total equality, so they give every animal double servings of food, and make everyone work the same amount of hours. Basically at the beginning everything is equally shared, everyone is happy, and things are running smoothly. One of the first things they do is come up with the seven commandments that must always be followed, some of which include:
  • No animal shall sleep in a bed
  • No animal shall stand on its hind legs
  • Whatever goes on four legs is a friend
  • No animal shall kill another
  • No animal shall drink alcohol
  • All animals are equal
  • No animal shall wear clothes

and so one of the pigs who has learned to write paints the commandments on the side of the barn. However, there is some immediate conflict between two of the pigs, Snowball the leader, and Napolean. Napolean wants to sit around doing nothing and just be in charge of everything while Snowball wants to teach the animals to build a windmill. Napolean uses nine feroceous and enourmous dogs that he raised on his own to scare all the animals and remove Snowball from the farm, making himself the 'dictator.' So Snowball is out of the picture, leaving a very convenient scapegoat for everything that goes wrong on the farm. Shortly after Snowball is gone, Napolean creates longer work days, bans their favorite freedom songs, and gives smaller food rations. He goes on a killing rampage, killing tens of animals who he believes are in league with snowball, moves himself and all the pigs into the house to sleep in beds, gets drunk every night, and at the very end, teaches all the pigs to walk on their hind legs and wear human clothing. He gets away with this by making the animals doubt their memories and by having one of his pigs change the laws written on the walls as he starts breaking them. All that the animals remember at the end is that 'things are better than they were when Jones was here, because now there is an animal leading us.' Because of the slow change, the animals didn't realize that things were even worse than they had been with Jones.

What does this story say about our own time? (Country, government, or world)

Do you think it is worse to suffer in ignorance or to know how all around awful your situation actually is?

Many people know that this story was written to directly satirize the Russian government under Stalin--explain how does he does that?

If you haven't already, this is a really great book to read!! It's only 141 pages, a very quick read, but really teaches a lot. It will probably raise your I.Q. by a couple of points just reading it.

13 comments:

Eric M. 11-12 said...

Animal farm not only satirizes the former soviet union, but also Nazi Germany and pretty much every dictatorship or authoritarian government ever established. You have the violent rise to power, the government censorship, fear tactics, oppression, and hypocrisy that those kind of governments entail. The only difference here is that the characters are pigs, which ironically shows how animalistic some humans can be.

LeahS11-12 said...

I think that the story symbolizes the timeless corruption of a Utopia and the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect government. A single person's hunger for power will always defeat the overall desire for equality in a society.

Deanna K 5-6 said...

I belive that this story is a very strong symbol for government in general. At first, everything is going well. All animals are equal, food is fair, and work is the same for all animals. Napolean then sees that he could easily be in control of the farm and seeks this power. He goes to drastic measures just like governments do. Governments will go to the extreme to stay in power longer, just as Napolean did by changing laws and killing off other animals. Napolean also used scare tactics with the use of giant dogs to scare the animals. Other governments, such as dictarorships or even the Russian government under the control of Stalin, use scare tactics to keep control of their people.

Personally, I believe that it is worse to suffer in ignorance than to know how awful the situation is. If you suffer in ignorance, you are never able to see the lights and fix things. If you really know the truth, you will make strides to make it better.

JessieW 11-12 said...

although it sounds better to know how awful the situation is, i personally believe it is worse to how awful your situation is. this is because when you know how awful everything is you tend to dwell on it more. to suffer in ignorance, you don't know how everything is, and might be able to think more positively.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

I think the story symbolizes how corrupt our government is, even in today's time. Government officials and other powerful people tend to use the average citizen's ignorance to gain more power for themselves, without caring for anyone else.

I think it's worse to suffer in ignorance because, as Deanna said, if you know the truth you can try and fix things. But if you suffer in ignorance, things will never change.

allie s 11-12 said...

i think i would much rather suffer in ignorance any day. When you know how bad something really is it makes it much worse and makes life a downer. but this also allows you to try to fix things like other have said. But if not knowing your situation, then maybe you could live life in more a positive way, so I'm actually not sure which one i would rather live in. i wouldn't want to suffer no matter if i know or live in ignorance.

allie s 11-12 said...

i think i would much rather suffer in ignorance any day. When you know how bad something really is it makes it much worse and makes life a downer. but this also allows you to try to fix things like other have said. But if not knowing your situation, then maybe you could live life in more a positive way, so I'm actually not sure which one i would rather live in. i wouldn't want to suffer no matter if i know or live in ignorance.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

I agree with Deanna that it is about government as a whole. When there is power involved, it is easy for there to be corruption and greediness. This story is an example of what many governments and even some organizations have become. People tend to abuse their power because they see themselves as deserving more than the common people because they have some power and the commoners do not. Animal Farm simplifies the huge corruption schemes to a more easy to understand version with using the entertainment of animals as a metaphor for how we can be animal-lie, just like what Eric pointed out.

As for living in ignorance or not, I think of it the same way as Allie. If you know what is going on around you, you have a chance at being able to fix it. If you were in ignorance, you wouldn't know about some of the suffering you were actually enduring. I believe that this is one of those times where it depends on the situation. Some things are better left unknown.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

For question one, this novel seems to satirize the government in communist societies. Just like in Orwell's novel, I am almost sure total equality sounded like the perfect resolution for society, until the leaders took advantage of their power.

For question two, I would definitely think it would be worse to know about the situation. By knowing what is happening, naturally I would want to try to fix the problem, like Napolean, but I would then have to think of the consequences of possibly being exiled and live with regret.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

I agree that it would feel worse to be aware of a bad situation rather than be ignorant to it. However, that is not necessarily better, because if you are ignorant to a bad situation, then you will never be able to be aware that it needs to change. Where, if you knew about a bad situation, you could try to change it for the better. Orwell satirizes dictatorships, specifically Stalins, by showing that just because someone of one's own preference(someone who makes it seem like they are doing things for the better) is ruling doesn't mean that it is better than if someone who was not favored ruled.

Mike B 13-14 said...

I would rather be ignorant then to have the ability to understand how bad things around me are. If you are ignorant you cant understand why things are they way they are and that things could be better. If you understand things it would be horrible to know things could be better but you have no ability to change things.

Liz S.11-12 said...

So pretty much all of you agree that it is better to suffer in ignorance...and in this case i do too. Although napolean abused the fact that the animals didn't have strong memories and was able to change the rules and take advantage of them by basically changing history in their minds, with all the animals gone who could lead another 'revolt' it was much better that they suffer in silence. However, if it were in the government today, i would take the complete opposite opinion. No one with rights like we have should be taken advantage of in the way Napolean did to the animals. It's interesting to me, although i'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that, but this sort of shows how a government could take over and do what they want and just make everyone follow them and believe every word they are saying. Who knows...this could actually be happening somewhere! Hopefully not in the U.S. though...

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread graded, closed