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Animal Farm

Discussion in 'Book Lovers' started by Cheeniya, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    The first book of George Orwell that I laid my hands on was Nineteen Eighty-four. He wrote this book in 1949. I was fascinated by the Big Brother and the slogan ‘The Big Brother is watching you’. The beauty is that we never get a chance to meet the Big Brother in the entire novel and yet the story revolves around him. He is mentioned as the leader and figurehead of the Party that rules Oceania. I am mentioning this book because it was the first of Orwell that I read. I just want to add that if you had missed reading this book, you must grab it now.

    The book of his that fascinated me most was his earlier novel which he wrote four years earlier in 1945. Before I proceed with this book, I need to share with you a few words about the author. He was born in India in 1903 (the same year as my dad!) He had his education in Eton because of a scholarship. To put it in his own words, ‘I was educated at Eton, the most costly and snobbish of the English Public Schools. But I had only got in there by means of a scholarship; otherwise my father could not have afforded to send me to a school of this type.’

    Of the Animal Farm, the novel that I have now come to talk about, he says ‘I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure. But I should like to emphasise two points: first, that although the various episodes are taken from the actual history of the Russian Revolution, they are dealt with schematically and their chronological order is changed; this was necessary for the symmetry of the story. The second point has been missed by most critics, possibly because I did not emphasise it sufficiently. A number of readers may finish the book with the impression that it ends in the complete reconciliation of the pigs and the humans. That was not my intention; on the contrary I meant it to end on a loud note of discord, for I wrote it immediately after the Teheran Conference which everybody thought had established the best possible relations between the USSR and the West. I personally did not believe that such good relations would last long; and as events have shown, I wasn’t far wrong.’

    The story takes place on Manor Farm, which is owned by Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones’s prize-winning boar, Old Major, tells the other animals on the farm that he has determined the source of their misery—the tyranny of humans. They can enjoy an easy and comfortable life if they overthrow the humans. Old Major dies, and two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, take up his cause.

    Snowball and Napoleon work together to develop a system they call Animalism, which outlines Old Major’s ideas. They preach about it to the other animals. One night, Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals after he has too much to drink. The animals, in their hunger, become angry enough to fight the humans and chase them away from the farm. They rename it Animal Farm and scrawl the seven commandments of the Animalism system up on the barn wall. When Mr. Jones comes back with more humans to try to reclaim the farm, Snowball leads the animals to another victory.

    With the humans gone, Snowball and Napoleon are left in charge of Animal Farm. The problem is that they argue all the time. One of the topics they argue the most over is how to get electricity to the farm. Snowball wants to build a windmill and use electric power, but Napoleon disagrees. He gets nine dogs to work for him and trains them to chase Snowball away. After Snowball leaves, Napoleon tells the other animals via his mouthpiece, Squealer, that Snowball betrayed them and was working with the humans. Squealer also tells the other animals that the windmill was always Napoleon’s idea, and Snowball was just trying to take credit.

    Building the windmill is hard work that the animals couldn’t complete without help from Boxer, a carthorse. Boxer works hard and, because he is a carthorse, has the necessary strength to assemble the windmill. Napoleon begins to trade with other local farmers. The animals begin to sleep in the farmhouse, using the beds, a practice in direct contradiction to the commandments of Animalism.

    Winter comes. The animals are hungry, but Napoleon and Squealer keep telling them that all their hardships are Snowball’s fault. Bad crops? Snowball did it. Blocked drains? Snowball was to blame. A handful of pigs confess to being on Snowball’s side, and Napoleon looses his dogs on them. Animals who confess are killed by the dogs, and all those who don’t are stricken by fear.

    In order to get the machinery that will operate the windmill and draw electricity for the farm, Napoleon decides he will sell some timber to Frederick, a local farmer. Only he discovers that Frederick paid in fake money. Frederick and other humans blow up the windmill, and the animals must fight them to get them off of the farm. While Boxer is trying to repair the damage to the windmill, he is injured. Napoleon tells the animals that he has sent for a vet, but Benjamin reads the side of the supposed vet’s van. The letters read, “Horse Slaughterer.” Napoleon hasn’t called the vet, but rather has sold Boxer’s body in order to buy more whisky so they can get drunk.

    Years pass, and the animals are still miserable. Old Major’s promises have faded, just like the commandments that were once written on the barn wall. Some humans arrive at the farm, and play cards with the pigs. Over cards, they argue, and the animals can’t tell anymore who is a human and who is a pig.

    George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an allegory. An important theme is the corruption that comes with power. Napoleon becomes powerful and that power corrupts, ultimately leading to his forsaking Animalism and selling Boxer to a horse slaughterer. Another important message in this story is that humans are no different from pigs. The pigs, who once thought themselves better than the humans they conquered, soon sink to the level of humans, using one another and wasting money on whisky.

    The names of the animals are important, particularly Snowball and Napoleon. Snowball is an innocent—though Napoleon labels Snowball a traitor, Snowball only ever wanted what was best for the animals of the farm. Napoleon, on the other hand, is corrupt and tries to come across as greater than he is—much how his namesake is often perceived.

    Those of you who had difficulty in understanding the political style of the 1900’s, would do well to read this book. That is how the politicians got evolved who we witness daily in the news now! They call it ‘Breaking News’!
     
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  2. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Cheeniys sir,

    Truth be told, I just got this Comrade Don Camillo (what A Book !) copy from the library yesterday evening.

    Now reading about Animal Farm, I had a big grin for I have read it, a couple of times and the best time reading it was with DS when he did for his school work! The book doe not fail to impress me. Thank you for bring it here for us and as for 1984, running up the stairs now to get from DS's room!
     
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  3. Gauri03

    Gauri03 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    We did a book club here on IL on Animal Farm a while back -- Animal Farm by George Orwell I have read it a few times and will be reading it again, this time with my son. He really enjoys our joint reads and I get the joy of experiencing the books anew from his perspective. This one is a little advanced for him but I think it is the perfect segue into a discussion about the current state of affairs in US politics -- how populism often degenerates into authoritarianism.
     
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  4. Amulet

    Amulet Platinum IL'ite

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    Just goes to show how one can write a darn good book report, when it is not done for a grade in school. :smile:

    The current state of US politics is more like the book "It Can't Happen Here", roughly about as old as Orwell's books.

    From Wikipedia:
    It Can't Happen Here
    [​IMG]
    First edition
    Author Sinclair Lewis
    Country United States
    Language English
    Genre Political fiction
    Publisher Doubleday, Doran and Company
    Publication date
    October 21, 1935
    Media type Print (hardcover)
    Pages 458 pp.
    ISBN 045121658X
    It Can't Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis,[1]and a 1936 play adapted from the novel by Lewis and John C. Moffitt.[2]

    Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a plutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS. The novel's plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup's opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.
     
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  5. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    @Srama
    Dear Sabi
    I am happy to know that you have been able to lay your hands on Comrade Don Camillo. I assure you that will no be disappointed. On the contrary, you will become a fanatic fan of Guareschi after reading this book.
    Your big grin is no news at all in IL. In fact, your big grins always cause a grin on our faces too though may not be as big as your!
    Sri
     
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  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    @Gauri03
    I am interested in knowing more about this Book Club of IL.
    True. We have been keenly following the proposal to buid The Great Wall of America!
     
  7. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    @Amulet
    Sinclair Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930 for the novel Babbitt that he wrote in 1922. Like 'It can't happen here' Babbit is also a political satire, an area where Sinclair excelld. I have read Babbit but not this one.
     
  8. gorgeous23

    gorgeous23 Silver IL'ite

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    that was a neat summary of the book , you have stated the story in rather simple and nice manner.
    i had read the book around 5 years back & had shared the copy with one of my colleagues & we had joked about for days about how we could identify some of the characters in the office as well ...LOL
    that said, it is a very interesting and powerful take on corruption & propaganda, how facts are twisted & presented to suit ones view..in fact now we watch or read news as per the views of the presenter or the person writing the piece. the views are ok as long as one is stating their opinion, but even for simple news bias is very much evident. the more you read different newspapers/ websites, the more this becomes obvious.
     
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  9. jackfowler

    jackfowler Guest

    Animal Farm’ penned down by Eric Arthur Blair under the pen name George Orwell, published on August 17, 1945 in England, might have derived its source from the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, it’s connection with India is equally old as the author Eric A. Blair was born on 25 June 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar), in British India.
     
  10. KookieJay

    KookieJay New IL'ite

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    I love this book! I love how George Orwell portrayed the society as an animal farm and I love the underlying message of the whole story. Have you read 1984?
     
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