The animals adapt to the farming lifestyle and manage to complete the harvest in less time than it would have taken Jones and his men. Boxer, a horse, triumphs as a solid worker, enduring and motivated. The pigs have cemented their position as administrators and the chief swines, Napoleon and Snowball, use their power to do little but say much.
The two take their time to debate with one another in the barn, with the other animals as an audience, and show how differing their opinions truly are. Snowball makes efforts to teach the animals how to read but finds it difficult, eventually dismantling the seven commandments concept and simplifying it into one simple slogan: ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’. Napoleon also educates the animals, but only really the youth, taking children away from their parents for such teaching purposes.
It is then discovered that the pigs mix apples and the milk from the cows into their feed, which ignites the others to object. Squealer, however, manages to convince them that they need it to sustain them, as they do such ‘hard’ work for the other animals.
George Orwell’s chilling fable of Soviet Russia’s brutal dictatorship, Animal Farm brings to life in lucid, uncomplicated language the disastrous project of Russian Communism. This Penguin Modern classics edition includes an introduction by Malcolm Bradbury. ‘All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others’ When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality.
But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another. ‘It is the history of a revolution that went wrong – and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine,’ wrote Orwell for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945.
Orwell wrote the novel at the end of 1943, but it almost remained unpublished; its savage attack on Stalin, at that time Britain’s ally, led to the book being refused by publisher after publisher. Orwell’s simple, tragic fable has since become a world-famous classic. If you enjoyed Animal Farm, you might like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. ‘It is the book for everyone and Everyman, its brightness undimmed after fifty years’ Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph Books of the Century