“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”
When the animals on a farm overthrow the humans, the goal is for the animals to live in harmony and each animal help according to his or her own abilities. To most, the change in life borders living in utopia. The humans had been mistreating the animals with long work hours, whippings and forgotten feedings. The pigs emerge as the leaders since they are the only animal who can read well. But, can someone being in charge work with the new animal society?
Animal Farm by George Orwell is a classic that most people read in high school or college. For some reason, this book was never assigned to me in class (although I did encounter Lord of the Flies three out of my four years in high school) and I never just picked it up to read. I needed to listen to an audiobook for the local library’s adult summer reading program bingo, so I browsed through Overdrive and downloaded Animal Farm. I am so glad I did.
Orwell takes the readers through a society that starts fairly capitalistic, turns socialist, flows into communism and then sees a dictator take over. As I listened to this book, I was incredulous as how the animals “let” things happen and let themselves believe history was different than what they remembered. One reason the society is allowed to take the turns it does is because only the pigs can read well. Without a written history that can be read, the animals easily succumb to fear and go along with whatever the leader says for survival.
I did not see the ending coming, although I should have. I am very glad to have come across this book later in life where I can appreciate the themes and apply it to the world around me and the world’s history. I think even if I did read this in high school, reading the book as an adult would give me a new perspective on it.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone high school age or older. It has some dark themes as several animals are killed in battles or by the animal farm leaders for false claims of treason. There are subtleties that younger readers wouldn’t understand about how governments can work. This is a must-read for any American to see and appreciate the freedoms we have.