Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Book Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Believe it or not, I had never read Animal Farm by George Orwell until last month. I'd read exerts, seen the animated movie back in high school, and I had to know the main points of the plot for one of my AP tests, so I've always known what it was about. Now that I've read it, it's kind of amazing that I didn't take the plunge before given my fascination with Russian history. Anyway, Animal Farm is the story of the Russian Revolution told with farm animals. The animals don't like how the farmer is abusing them and taking all their resources, so they revolt and take over the farm. The pigs are the smartest of the animals, so they run things and decide on the rules. Snowball and Napoleon are the two main pigs that are in constant opposition. At first Snowball is the more ideological one - he establishes the absolutes of the animal world and paints 10 rules on the side of the barn for all to see. Eventually when Napoleon stages a coup and runs Snowball out of the farm, the animals start noticing differences in the 10 rules. The absolute statements now have additional justifications added that seem to make all the awful things Napoleon is doing seem ok because they technically still abide by the rules. As time goes on, Napoleon basically reestablishes the farm exactly as it was in the time of the farmer, and no one can even tell the physical difference between the pigs and humans anymore.
That's an extremely condensed lot synopsis. Oddly enough this book humanized the sad event that was the revolution. After the ideology of Vladimir Lenin was established and woo-ed the Russian people, Stalin came in and took advantage of the people's trust. It doesn't take long in the book before the animals start to think about how they are working harder than they ever had to under the farmer, yet they have less than they did while he was in power - which is a great correlation to Russia's situation under royal rule. Things weren't great then, but they certainly weren't worse then they became after Stalin gained power.
I'm sure I've completely botched this explanation, lol, but it made sense to me. This book was a very poetic representation of the sad irony the Russian people experienced. Funny how a book told with animals can put human actions into a better perspective. I really enjoyed this both for the factual representation as well as just the story itself. I can certainly see why it is still reputed as such a classic. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.