discussion of animal farm

Discussion Questions Chapter 1

In “Animal Farm,” Orwell depicts a number of strategies that the Ruling Class (the pigs) use to consolidate their power while at the same time convince the other animals that they are “free” and better off than before. He frames these strategies in a narrative that roughly mirrors the rise of the Soviet Union, but his other writings have made clear that his story is not intended as simply as an indictment of a single individual, government, or country. Rather it is an indictment of a world system that leads to such treacherous outcomes, and an observation of the strategies (including physical violence, but largely rhetorical strategies), which produces them.

If you are able to apply Orwell’s narrative to other situations, this says a lot for your ability to think critically.

Therefore, in this class we will perform a critical experiment of pretending that “Animal Farm” was not written for Soviet Russia, but for the United States. If that were the case, how would the symbolism and the historical analogues change from the original analysis?

  1. Who do Old Major and Mr. Jones represent in Animal–generally and specifically? Who or what would be analogous to the rise of Americanism?
  1. Answer the same for the characters we are introduced to in Chapter 1–who are they in general; whom are they meant to represent regarding the Soviet Union; and is there an analogue to various sectors of the American public–and if so, who/how?

Consider: Boxer and Clover; Muriel; Benjamin; Moses;

  1. Analyze the following strategies of Old Major’s speech to the animals:
  1. identification of a common enemy; identification of friends and allies

2.the identification of an accepted truth that is re-interpreted as a falsehood, and a problem to be overcome

  1. raising questions (what kinds, and to what effects)?
  2. the presentation of facts
  3. a solution to the problem
  4. the emergence of a new vision
  1. What are the ideals and values Old Major presents? (Keep these in mind because later we will discuss how these ideals come to be perverted or even reversed). How would you analogize this to original American ideals?
  1. “Beasts of England” is a tune that inspires the animals to work toward a vision–a glorious, golden future. “Freedom” from tyranny is at the heart of this vision. How does the tune envision “freedom”? What is the role of patriotic slogans or songs for inspiring the masses? What American examples, if any, can you think of?
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