There is something magical in staying short and sweet, yet deliver a powerful message and provoking your audience into thinking – Animal Farms less-then-100-pages does this elegantly.
The core of the story in Animal Farm is the changes of the farmstead and its inhabitants go through after the animals have revolted against Mr. Jones (the former farm owner and their ex-master).
The animals have to make a constitution, pick out a unifying anthem, elect new leadership and settle on a form of self-governance – All important pieces in making a community function, stay together and plot out a future.
George Orwell set up the animals in different functions on this miniature society depending on their species: The sheep on the farm are gullible, only need simple instructions and with their herd-like mentality repeat simple mantras, such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” to simplify the concept that humans can be bad form them.
Boxer, the strong workhorse is the one getting to work earlier than everyone else and always the last to leave his shift. A valiant creature that supports the community through action with great pride.
In the forefront of the cast are the two pigs Snowball and Napoleon, who through their greater intellect make them lead the rest of the pack, but not without conflict with each other. Always criticizing and second-guessing the plans and ideas of the other.
Throughout the book, these curious creatures are faced with problems, both internal and external and we get taken on a backseat ride through the whole process. Us readers being their companions through the bad times, the few good times and through the really, really bad times.
The book shows how poisonous blind following is and how important it is to know the framework of your world. How compliance shackles us, restrictions on questioning authority turns into slavery. These are all important lessons.
There is something inherently great about a good story, one where you can switch out the scenery and actors with a new set and still keep the good elements intact; This is the lost art of writing fables.
When you make a parody of real life, you can put the spotlight on the absurdities more easily. That is Animal Farms greatest strength – Anyone interested in society and politics should give this book a chance. Its sort of a lightweight refresher on the trap of collectivism.