Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Mass Market Paperback
Page Count: 144
Publication Date: 1945
Category/Genre: Fiction, Classics, Dystopia, Fantasy, Academic, Politics
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.92)
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh..
*Questions are a mix from Rabbit Hole Blogger and the publisher. Questions may contain spoilers.
- Why did Orwell choose a farm as the setting for this novel?
- What is the significance of the animals that Orwell chose to represent the KGB?
- Throughout the novel, the natural characteristics of each animal figure heavily in their motives and pronouncements. How do the actions of Napoleon (a pig), Boxer (a horse), Benjamin (a donkey) and the dogs and sheep reflect the traits normally associated with the animal? Do you feel that this was done with intention?
- How does the description of the first appearance of Old Major in Chapter 1 of Animal Farm reflect his importance to the farm, the animals, and the rebellion?
- Throughout the animals’ reign on the farm, Napoleon and Squealer dangle the possibility of Jones’ return as a constant danger, keeping most of the other animals in fear, and thus, submission. Do you think that this was a valid threat? Do you feel that, overall, the animals were better or worse off once they were in control of the farm?
- What is the significance of the song “Beasts of England”? What purpose does it serve in the Rebellion?
- Initially, the seven commandments issued by the animals were deemed unalterable and symbolized a code by which the animals could live peacefully and equally among themselves. How and by what means were the commandments eventually changed?
- Although Napoleon is considered the absolute Leader of Animal Farm, it is Squealer who is most adept at conveying the “party line” to the animals, often convincing them to disbelieve their own eyes. What methods does Squealer employ to deceive and/or placate the other animals? How does the concept of memory (or lack thereof) figure in Squealer’s pronouncements and dealings with them?
- Squealer and his group move into the farmhouse after making an earlier resolution never to inhabit it. How are they able to do so with little fuss?
- Animal Farm provides lessons on blind conformity and the misuse of power. What are some of the lessons you’ve personally taken away from the novel regarding the education of the masses, knowledge of history, idealist thought and class structure?
- In reading Animal Farm, Lord Acton’s famous pronouncement “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” may come to mind. How and why is this statement applicable to the course of events in the novel?
- How does this novel reflect the concept of utopia and the changing ideas of the ideal?
- The novel ends with a chilling passage, wherein Clover notices something odd about the humans and pigs meeting in the farmhouse: “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. What is Orwell saying here? How do you interpret this final scene?
- Compare “Animal Farm” with Orwell’s other famous cautionary tale, “1984.” How similar are the messages of these two works?