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Animal Farm | Study Guide

George Orwell

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Animal Farm | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


In Animal Farm Chapter 9 how does the plan to build a schoolroom for the piglets confirm the inequality the pigs have promoted since the early days of the rebellion?

Shortly after the rebellion, the pigs make attempts to educate the other animals on the farm by teaching them to read and write, but they abandon this strategy when the animals fail to catch on quickly. While the pigs might be justified in this approach with the older animals, they make no plans to educate any of the young, who might be more adaptable to learning. Once there are new litters of piglets—and these are all Napoleon's offspring—the pigs have no problem adding the extra task of building a schoolroom to the animals' workload so these piglets will have a place to learn reading and writing, ensuring the pigs' continued dominance over the other animals. This plan only clarifies that the pigs never have had a sincere interest in an educated population of other animals, because that might enable the other animals to challenge their authority.

How might the pros and cons of Napoleon's "Spontaneous Demonstrations" in Animal Farm Chapter 9 be assessed?

The "Spontaneous Demonstration" is actually not spontaneous at all since the animals are required to march through the different parts of the farm in formation, led by the pigs. On the one hand, the demonstrations provide a break from the monotony and strain of the animals' workload. Marching is a relatively easy activity compared to hauling stones or plowing fields. The activity is entertaining in a way and helps build pride in the farm. However, the animals' workloads are heavy, requiring every available hour to accomplish their tasks while still making sure the farm yields enough food for them to survive. The demonstrations take away from those hours, so the animals have to work even harder to make up for the lost time or risk being hungry. Because the demonstrations are required, the pigs are basically telling the other animals exactly how to spend even the time they aren't working. Ultimately, the demonstrations are another way for the pigs to control even the smallest details of the animals' lives.

Why does Benjamin break his silence and cynicism when Boxer is taken away from the farm in Animal Farm Chapter 9?

Throughout the novel Benjamin does his work and, figuratively, keeps his head down. He never openly defies the pigs, because he sees no point in doing so, even though all along he understands what they are doing and sees through their corruption and lies. While Benjamin's silence may enable the pigs to gain power, it is equally likely they would exile him were he to speak up. When Boxer, Benjamin's only close friend, is threatened, Benjamin can no longer remain silent. He sees that Boxer is being taken away, not in a veterinary ambulance, but in a horse slaughterer's van. Because of his emotional involvement with Boxer, for the first and only time Benjamin is spurred to call for the animals to resist what is happening. He shouts out the truth of what he sees and encourages Boxer to break free. His friendship with Boxer is always the sole exception to his cynical outlook, and that carries through to the end of the book.

What makes Squealer's story about Boxer's deathbed declarations deeply offensive in Animal Farm Chapter 9?

Boxer's life on the farm ends in the back of a slaughterer's van, and his actual life ends shortly after. The pigs lie to the other animals, saying that Boxer has been sent to a hospital for medical care. In reality they have sold him to the knacker since he is no longer able to work, and they will use the money to buy whisky for themselves. While Boxer has looked forward to retirement, a brutal death is his reward for years of hard work and service instead. All of these factors make Boxer's ending an unsettling turning point for the farm, but Squealer uses this event to spin more propaganda. Capitalizing on Boxer's reputation, he relays Boxer's supposed last words in the hospital, but they are fabricated: there was no bed and no hospital for Boxer. According to Squealer, Boxer's final statement is a string of slogans: "Forward in the name of the Rebellion. Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right!" The pigs behave dishonorably in their treatment of Boxer, and this exploitation of his memory shows there is no line the pigs won't cross. Unfortunately the animals, except perhaps Benjamin and Clover, believe every word Squealer says.

As shown in Animal Farm Chapter 10, how does the farm change in the years after Boxer's death?

Most notably, after the turmoil surrounding Boxer's death, the farm seems to settle into a quiet routine. It is as if the drama around Boxer represents the last gasp of potential rebellion the animals have within them. The animals who remember the revolution are few; aside from the surviving pigs, only Benjamin, Clover, and Moses survive. The farm is larger and more prosperous, with one finished windmill and a second under construction. The windmill does not generate electricity but instead mills corn. The remaining animals hear stories about the rebellion, but they know only the life they have now. They sometimes sing "Beasts of England" quietly, but that is the extent of their rebellious behavior. They have settled into a quiet routine of deprivation and hard work, just as the animals lived before the revolution, when Mr. Jones was in charge.

Why, in Animal Farm Chapter 10, do the animals cling to the song "Beasts of England" many years after the rebellion and well after the pigs have forbidden its singing?

The animals cling to "Beasts of England" because it serves as a reminder that they are not like the other animals in the country. They still believe they are free because they live on a farm owned and operated by animals, even if those animals are domineering, abusive pigs. They still believe they are equal to the pigs because they continue to embrace Animalist beliefs. In the face of hardship and deprivation, as they watch the pigs grow fat off their labor, their beliefs in Animalism and the idea that they work for themselves, however false, are all they have left.

Why is the sight of pigs walking on their hind legs so horrifying for the animals in Animal Farm Chapter 10?

The animals have invested a great deal of time in convincing themselves that they are not like other animals, that the principles of Animalism still matter, and that they rule themselves. Once the pigs break the last of the Seven Commandments, by walking on two legs and wearing clothes, the animals are no longer able to deny that Animalism is finished and they are simply slaving away for a new set of masters. They resign themselves to this reality and do not resist when the pigs begin carrying whips into the field. They do not protest when the pigs purchase more implements of humanity, such as magazines and a radio. The final scene, in which the animals cannot tell the pigs apart from the men in the farmhouse dining room, only confirms that the transformation is complete. In the long term, nothing has really changed as a result of the rebellion. The writing has been on the wall, literally, since the pigs first began repainting the commandments in the barn years ago.

Why is the new commandment that replaces the Seven Commandments on the barn wall a final example of empty propaganda in Animal Farm Chapter 10?

The new commandment reads, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Upon even cursory examination the statement contradicts itself and makes little logical sense. The phrasing more equal is an oxymoron, as the word equal negates the word more. Instead, this slogan is introduced to allow the pigs to justify the new order on the farm, letting the animals know they are not equal at all while maintaining the language of the rebellion in some small way. As is the case with all the rest of the pigs' propaganda, it is only smoke and mirrors. This time the animals understand the truth behind the words, that they are defeated, and quietly accept their fate.

How does Napoleon rewrite the entire history of Animal Farm in his speech to the other farmers when they have dinner in Animal Farm Chapter 10?

Napoleon's speech to the other farmers does not simply modify the known version of past events; it essentially erases all history of the rebellion and Animalism. He denies that a revolution ever took place on the farm and that the pigs ever attempted to spread the Animalist movement to neighboring farms. He claims the animals only ever wanted to live in peace with their neighbors. He goes on to dismiss the animals' longstanding habit of calling each other "Comrade" as a silly custom that he plans to abolish. The hoof and horn have been erased from the flag, and he describes the tradition of saluting Old Major's skull as a strange custom of unknown origin. In this new version of events, Old Major ceases to matter, just like the rebellion itself.

Why do so many animals confess to so many crimes in Animal Farm Chapter 7?

The animals' readiness to confess to crimes, even though they know they are likely to be killed for them, is somewhat puzzling. Some of the animals blame Snowball for influencing or inspiring their actions, as in the case of the hens who claim they rebel because Snowball appears to them in a dream. This sort of effort may indicate a hope on some animals' parts that their confession and blaming of Snowball may result in their being spared. Other animals may confess because they prefer a quick death to the possibility of torture or starvation if their supposed crimes are allegedly uncovered by other means. Finally, some of the animals may be so thoroughly manipulated by the propaganda and the confessions of others that they genuinely believe they have done wrong or have been influenced by Snowball.

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