I really like the ending of Animal Farm (which may make me a terrible person, but it’s true.) Instead of reaching a happy conclusion, where the animals retake their farm from the oppressive dictatorship of Napoleon, it ends suddenly, and leaves the reader thinking. At the end, the pigs invite other local farmers over to Animal Farm, despite the original promise that humans were the enemy, as said in the “Seven Commandments” that were written when the farm was established. The humans drink, laugh, and gamble with the pigs in the farmhouse, and congratulate the pigs on their efficiency, stating that, “…the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the county” (98). Then they continue to drink, and the poor, starving animals look in from the outside. Suddenly, there’s an outburst of arguments, and while the workers watch through the dripping window, they, “looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which (101). That is the final line of the novel!
I enjoyed this for several reasons. Firstly, is the breaking of the “Seven Commandments.” At the beginning of the book, there are very clear rules regarding the behavior of all the animals on the farm. The rules are upheld for months, but as soon as Napoleon takes over, the rules change a little every few weeks. Suddenly, the rule of no animals sleeping in a bed, change to no animals sleeping in a bed with sheets. Or the rule of no animals drinking alcohol becomes no animal can drink alcohol to excess. There are two characters in particular, Clover (the horse) and Benjamin (the donkey), who notice these changes. With each change, they go to view the Commandments, and sure enough, the new one seems to be true. Towards the very end, shocked at yet another aggravating rule, they go back to the Commandments to see just one left. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. This reflects just how much Napoleon (Stalin) has changed the ideals of Animalism (Communism), making it unrecognizable.
There’s also the fact that Animal Farm has become the complete opposite of what it was promised to be. Snowball, or Trotsky, dreamed of building a great windmill, which not only would provide electricity to the farm, but reduce the animals workload to only three days per week. Animal farm was to be a peaceful sanctuary, where all animals could live together in harmony against the humans, and help free animal kind as a whole. However, this did not turn out to be the case. Instead, Napoleon turned Animal Farm into a slave state, where the workers were not compensated for brutal labor, while the wealthy grew wealthier because of it. Sure, a windmill was created after years of work, but Napoleon immediately commanded them into building another, and killed loyal citizens after they wouldn’t help anymore. Take Boxer for example; a kind, but stupid, horse who obeyed all of Napoleon’s wishes, and without whom Animal Farm could’ve ceased to exist on several occasions. After he was injured beyond repair, Napoleon simply sent him to the slaughter house, without hesitation.
Finally, there is the comparison between the malevolent pigs, and the humans. Orwell is trying to point out that humans have the same trait of greed, and that is what ruins most societies. Whether it be greed over land, power, resources; it doesn’t really matter. All Orwell wants to show is that the world wouldn’t be so bad if this cycle stopped. The cycle in which someone comes along, promising to change things, and yet stops once they reach power.
Overall, Animal Farm is a fantastic book, and I would rate it 8.5/10. It is a smart take on the workings of a society, that is just the right size, without losing any of it’s intrigue.