Prior to this independent reading session, I had been wanting to read Animal Farm for quite some time. Also, in history recently we learned about the Russian Revolution, which made the timing even better. Off the bat this book was so intriguing and well written that I didn’t want to put it down. I had to though, because of the length. The book is so short that stopping so soon was hard, but I did it so that I could be fairer with the blog.
To me, the whole idea of comparing the Russian Revolution to animals on a farm is amazing. Every single animal in the story is tied to a real person or idea from the revolution. For instance, the competition between the two pigs Napoleon and Snowball is a direct correlation to how Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky fought for power after Vladimir Lenin, portrayed by another pig – Old Major, died. The way that every character represents a real “character” from the Russian Revolution is so mind bogglingly perfect that it makes the experience of reading Animal Farm so much better.
Another way that Orwell conveyed his comparison was through the setting. He describes the buildings as, “dishonest, the fields were full of weeds, the buildings wanted roofing, the hedges were neglected and the animals were underfed” (15%) (I am reading on a kindle and there aren’t page numbers). This description gives the impression that the farm is old, broken down, and in terrible condition. This is the exact same state that Russia was in prior to Stalin’s Five Year Plans. Russia had just started industrializing, and was perhaps forty years behind more modernized countries such as Great Britain and the U.S. (other farms in the novel). All of Russia’s machinery was way behind the others and the state of their nation was in shambles, just like the farm.
One last comparison that took me more time than the others was how all the pigs wanted the milk and apples produced on the farm. I understood their motives – as they are the smartest and believe that they deserve the milk and cookies – but for a while the correlation to real life didn’t show. I realize now that this is much like how Stalin started collective farms. He took all of the crops that peasants labored for and sold them to other countries to fuel the industrialization in Russia. The pigs in the novel are saying that they need the food to keep the humans (royalty) from coming back, while Stalin wanted the crops to strengthen Russia. Both had the similar goals, and that is how I figured out that comparison.
The one thing that I don’t like about this novel is the fact that I know what will happen. I have learned about the Russian Revolution, which sort of spoils the plot of the book for me. My hopes as the I continue to read are that I keep enjoying the correlation between real life and the story, and to be able to communicate with others about the book through this blog.