For my first independent reading book of this semester, I chose Animal Farm, since my history class just finished our Russian Revolution unit. Animal Farm is so far a great book. Usually, a “classic” takes time to describe the scenery, or the motivations behind each character with much detail, making the book hundreds of pages longer than need be. George Orwell, however, restrains himself and it makes the novel a lot better. The novel is only 100 pages, yet it really makes you think about society, and is open-ended, so people can have various opinions on the characters.
The entire book is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, but it also teaches the flaws of totalitarianism, and why pure Communism will never work. At first, the animals are joyous at their new freedom, happily working together for a common goal, with each person doing their part. Soon, it is decided that the pigs should become intellectual leaders of the group, and still nothing necessarily bad happens. However, over time, the pigs start taking more and more from their fellow animals, and with the new power granted from each injustice, they intimidate and blackmail others into submission. Since humans are naturally greedy, there will never be a perfect society, or a pure Communist society, because of self-interest.
I also like how the book describes the rivalry between Snowball (Leon Trotsky) and Napoleon (Josef Stalin). If you don’t know, after Lenin died (who seems to be the “Old Major” character in the novel), Trotsky and Stalin fought for leadership of the new Communist Party. Trotsky had a better way with words, while Stalin seemed more ruthless, and determined. The same characteristics are reflected in the two pigs, and the book even shows how Stalin ran Trotsky out of Russia.
Overall, Animal Farm is a good read, and I look forward to what surprises come in the second half.