I already knew before starting this book that it is written as a satire on some communist movement. However, I did not know which one. So during my reading, I was constantly comparing the characters with their counterparts in the modern communist world.
I really liked the way this novel is written. It was the first time, I was reading an allegory, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder how the author turned a historical event that led to the birth of communism into an easy and fun to read story. I have not read a book that so succinctly and simply explains a complex idea and all its intricacies and nuances with excellent analogies.
I think my adult biases have influenced how I interpreted this story. My perspectives on communism, socialism, democracies, government, people, leaders, and capitalism made this book a chilling read. It is a relatively short read, thankfully. I do not think I would have been to read 300 pages version of this book. I wonder how a child will interpret this book. An animal book without pictures!
The author does not seem to have any issues with the idea of socialism. It is evident from the speech of the Old Major in the first few chapters of the book. However, the criticism is of those people who take advantage of the feelings of people to advance their agenda and use propaganda to fulfill their motives.
The windmill is used to show the economic development and how much people have to suffer to gain economic prosperity. It also shows how technological advancements do not necessarily transform into economic prosperity and only improve the lives of select powerful ones.
The most heart-breaking character, in my view, was of Boxer. I believe he represented ordinary people. He believed in his leader entirely and worked hard to see his community and farm (read country) prosper.
Below are some snippets from the book -
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin.
Remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.
Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills — Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?
Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today. One false step, and our enemies would be upon us.
Long live Animal Farm!
Are you certain that this is not something that you have dreamed, comrades? Have you any record of such a resolution? Is it written down anywhere?
Forward, comrades! Long live the windmill! Long live Animal Farm!
“Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,” announced Squealer, speaking very slowly and firmly, “has stated categorically — categorically, comrade — that Snowball was Jones’s agent from the very beginning — yes, and from long before the Rebellion was ever thought of.” “Ah, that is different!” said Boxer. “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.
‘Beasts of England’ was the song of the Rebellion. But the Rebellion is now completed. The execution of the traitors this afternoon was the final act. The enemy both external and internal has been defeated. In ‘Beasts of England’ we expressed our longing for a better society in days to come. But that society has now been established. Clearly this song has no longer any purpose.
Napoleon himself was not seen in public as often as once in a fortnight. When he did appear, he was attended not only by his retinue of dogs but by a black cockerel who marched in front of him and acted as a kind of trumpeter.
Napoleon was now never spoken of simply as “Napoleon.” He was always referred to in formal style as “our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,” and this pigs liked to invent for him such titles as Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, Ducklings’ Friend, and the like.
You would often hear one hen remark to another, “Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days”; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”
The mill would be named Napoleon Mill.
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
“If you have your lower animals to contend with,” he said, “we have our lower classes!”