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Animal Farm by George Orwell

on March 21, 2013

animal farm  Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

This is not the first time I’ve had to read Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s actually like the third, and I enjoyed it just as much this time as I did the other two times. Which is, to be completely honest, a good MEH. It’s not fantastic, it’s not horrendous. I didn’t have to force myself to finish it or anything because it does pull the reader in and keeps the reader there.

(Although, if I were reading it during the Communist scare, that might be completely different.)

So, yes, Animal Farm is really a tale about Communism and it was actually banned because of that. No, Animal Farm does not paint Communism in a good light. In fact, it paints it in a decidedly negative –some might say a realistic – light. It goes down in a bad way. In a real bad way.

And, to be completely honest, as I write this review, I don’t really remember a bunch of details. I mean, I can tell you what happens, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly where it happens. There’s a list of major events in my head but I’m not sure I can actually put them in order for a decent review. So to save time – also, Emily is breathing down my neck for this review – I have SparkNotes up to spark my memory and make sure that I’m not typing something that’s completely and utterly wrong.

As I stated above, Orwell wrote this book during the Red Scare and it is really about the horrors of Communism. There is not really a deeper meaning than that. Like if you were to draw the flag mentioned in Animal Farm, it’s a dead ringer for the U.S.S.R flag. However, don’t let that stop you from reading it. It’s not a bad book as I said, but it’s not something that I’m going to rant and rave sideways and upways about.

There will be spoiler below this point so if you don’t want spoilers STOP HERE and read the book if you want, or don’t if you don’t. Whatever you want to do, my friend.

The story starts with life on the Manor Farm where Old Major, a prize winning boar, calls all the other animals to say that he’s had a dream where they’re their own masters and that they make their own decisions. Three of the other pigs in attendance – Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer – take his words to heart and make the rules of Animalism. Later, Old Major dies. Without going into too much detail, the animals do break free of their farmer, Mr. Jones, and run him off the farm.

At first, everything is going pretty good. They’re more efficient together this way and they all have a day off work and they’re always fed right. Snowball – who is supposed to be Karl Marx – teaches the other animals while Napoleon – Stalin – takes some puppies and stores them in the barn loft for something that is surely not nefarious.

Some things go down that’s not exactly good. Jones comes back, Napoleon and Snowball get into a fight over the idea behind a windmill. Eventually Napoleon comes back with those puppies that he surely had a good plan for and he had totally trained them to be attack dogs and they ran Snowball off the farm. Napoleon therefore is the leader and he and the other pigs are now in charge of everything.

Yeah, I trust you.

Pretty soon all the animals are worse than they were before because everything was so slowly taken away that no one save Benjamin the donkey noticed (he was my favorite character, I’m not going to lie.) though he didn’t try to stop it. Squealer, who is supposed to be propaganda, has such a way with words that he simply convinces the other animals that what’s going on really for the good.

Oh, your food rations are being cut because the pigs have to use brain power which means they need more food than you. Good job, Squealer, I hate you.

Also, the rules that the original trio of pigs slowly changes.

No animal shall sleep in a bed edit: with sheets.

No animal shall drink alcohol edit: to excess.

And some animals notice that the rules are different but they can’t tell where because, to be honest, they’re animals and are therefore a bit stupid. Though Benjamin totally knows what’s what. Because no one ever sees a dead donkey so he knows when to keep his hee-hawing mouth shut. He does.

Eventually it gets to the point where all the rules are out the window and the pigs are pretty much doing whatever they want. The pigs even erase all of the other rules and change it all to All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others because the pigs are more important than everyone else. That line is quoted a lot in school and things – at least, it was in my school.

But damn, that one line is powerful because we can all relate to it somehow, even if you’re in that group that’s more equal than others.

Don’t think I’m bashing this book. I’m not. I like this book, but I’m not one for big allegory like stories. I like my fiction straight and to the point with some humor. As much as this is not the book for me, I still like it. Pick it up sometime and read it.

(Like seriously.)

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