Animal Farm is an excellent selection for junior and senior high students to study. Although on one level the novel is an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the story is just as applicable to the latest rebellion against dictators around the world. Young people should be able to recognize similarities between the animal leaders and politicians today. The novel also demonstrates how language can be used to control minds. Since teenagers are the target not only of the educational system itself but also of advertising, the music industry, etc., they should be interested in exploring how language can control thought and behavior.
Animal Farm is short and contains few words that will hamper the reader's understanding. The incidents in the novel allow for much interactive learning, providing opportunities for students to dramatize certain portions, to expand on speeches, and to work out alternative endings.
The novel can be taught collaboratively with the history department as an allegory of the Russian Revolution, allowing students to draw parallels between actual events and people and the imaginary ones created by Orwell. The novel can also be taught as a beast fable following the study of shorter fables by Aesop and James Thurber. Examining the work as a satirical comment on the corrupting influence of power, students should be able to trace the corruption of the pigs and perhaps relate their findings to individuals in our own government who have succumbed to the lure of power at any cost and by any means.
Teenagers are especially influenced by peer pressure. In exploring the skillful use of peer pressure (along with the threat of death later in the book) used by the pigs to keep the other animals in line, the students can analyze their own lives and discover how peer pressure controls their actions.
This teacher's guide contains a brief synopsis of each chapter, followed by teaching suggestions for use before, during, and after reading the novel. Activities, discussion questions, and topics for writing assignments are also included, most of which can be adapted easily for either slower or more advanced students.OVERVIEW
Chapter I – Twelve-year-old Major, Manor Farm's prize-winning boar, calls a meeting of all of the animals to talk about the difficulty of their lives under man's rule. He reveals his dream and prophesies a future rebellion of animals against man, teaching the animals a song called "Beasts of England."
Chapter II – Major dies, but the other animals, led by two young boars named Snowball and Napoleon, keep the idea of a future rebellion against man alive. On Midsummer's Eve, Mr. Jones becomes too drunk to feed or care for the animals, and the hired hands forget about them, as well. The animals break into the grain bins. When Mr. Jones and the hired hands appear, the animals attack and drive them off the farm. The animals are now in control of Manor Farm. They change its name to Animal Farm and establish their own rules for behavior, which are painted on the wall of the barn.
Chapter III – The farm animals, supervised by the pigs, harvest the crops with better results than ever before. Sundays are established as days of rest, for meetings, and for singing "Beasts of England." Having already taught themselves to read and write, the pigs attempt to teach these skills to other animals. Committees such as the Clean Tails League for the cows are set up, but none is successful. Since most of the animals cannot learn to read or to memorize the seven commandments, the commandments are reduced to one simple maxim: "Four legs good, two legs bad." Napoleon takes nine puppies for private instruction, and the pigs are now the only ones allowed to eat the apples and drink the milk produced on the farm. The pigs force the other animals to accept this by reminding them of the threat of Mr. Jones's return.
Chapter IV – The song "Beasts of England" is now being hummed and sung over half of the county, although no other farms have joined the Rebellion. Armed with a shotgun, Mr. Jones and several men from town attempt to recapture the farm, but Snowball leads the animals in successfully defending it. Medals for bravery are awarded to Snowball, Boxer, and the one sheep killed in the battle. Mr. Jones's gun is set up at the foot of the flagpole, and it will be fired on the anniversaries of the Rebellion and the newly renamed Battle of the Cowshed.
Chapter V – Mollie, the horse, is seen consorting with humans who have petted her and given her sugar and ribbons. When Clover the drafthorse confronts her, Mollie abandons Animal Farm and the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Snowball wants the animals to build a windmill that will provide electricity, heat, and running water in each stall, but Napoleon disagrees with the idea and urinates on Snowball's diagrams. When Snowball tries to present his idea to the animals at their weekly meeting, Napoleon reveals the nine dogs he has trained as guard/attack dogs, and the dogs drive Snowball from the farm. When some animals protest, the sheep drown them out by bleating, "Four legs good, two legs bad," and the dogs growl menacingly. Napoleon soon tells the animals they are going to build the windmill and that it has always been his idea. With the aid of three growling dogs, Squealer convinces the animals to believe this.
Chapter VI - Although they are working a 60-hour week, including Sunday afternoons, the animals are happy during the next year. They believe they are working for themselves, despite being threatened with half rations if they do not work on Sunday. Because of construction on the windmill, some crops are not planted on time, and the harvest is not nearly as good as last year's. The animals devise a way to break up the stone they need for the windmill. Boxer gets up earlier to work harder. The need for seeds and other supplies causes the pigs to begin trading with other farms, first selling a load of hay, but warning the hens that their eggs may have to be sold as well. Mr. Whymper, a solicitor living in Willingdon, serves as intermediary. Squealer assures the animals that no resolution had ever been made forbidding trade with humans.
The pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in the beds. The fourth commandment now says, "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." With the dogs' aid and the threat of Jones's return, Squealer convinces the animals that the rule had always referred to sheets. When the half-built windmill blows down during a storm, Napoleon accuses Snowball of destroying it and orders the animals to begin rebuilding it.
Chapter VII - Always cold and usually hungry, the animals labor to rebuild the windmill over the long, hard winter. Napoleon rarely leaves the farmhouse. Squealer makes all his announcements and informs the hens they must produce eggs to sell so that grain can be bought for the animals to eat. The rebellious hens, led by three pullets, go on strike, laying their eggs from the rafters so that they smash on the floor. Napoleon starves them into submission, and nine hens die before the rebellion is over.
Anything that goes wrong on the farm is blamed on Snowball. Squealer again counts on the growling dogs and Boxer's belief that whatever Napoleon says is right to persuade the animals that Snowball had always been in league with Jones and was a traitor at the Battle of the Cowshed. He warns them that there may be other animal traitors in their ranks. A few days later Napoleon calls a meeting in which the dogs attack the four pigs who had earlier protested Snowball's guilt. Under pressure they confess to spying for Snowball, and the dogs quickly tear out their throats. The hen ringleaders of the strike confess, as do several other animals, and all are promptly killed.
When the shocked animals gather together for comfort and sing "Beasts of England," Squealer silences them and states that the song has been abolished; it is unnecessary now that the Rebellion has been achieved. When some attempt to protest, the sheep's bleats drown them out until discussion time has passed.
Chapter VIII - When some of the animals think to check the commandments, they find that the sixth now reads, "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." They accept the deaths as perfectly reasonable in light of the rule. Though the animals are working harder than ever, they wonder if they are any better off than they were under Mr. Jones, yet Squealer quotes figures that seemingly support his statements that production has increased. Now when Napoleon appears, he is attended by the dogs and a black cockerel who marches in front and crows before Napoleon speaks. Napoleon has his own apartment, eats from the best china, has two dogs to wait on him, and orders that the gun be fired on his birthday.
The windmill is finally finished. Napoleon sells a stack of lumber to Frederick and insists on being paid in five-pound notes. After the lumber is carted away, the pigs discover that the money is counterfeit. Frederick and his men then attack Animal Farm. Armed with rifles, the men force the animals to flee. Only Benjamin realizes they are going to blow up the windmill. When it is destroyed, the animals throw caution to the wind and attack Frederick's men, who kill several of the animals and wound the others. After the animals chase the men off the farm, Napoleon orders that Jones's rifle be fired in a victory celebration. The injured Boxer questions the victory, but Squealer assures him that they have won back their farm and will rebuild the windmill. In celebration the animals are given extra food.
The pigs discover a case of whiskey and get very drunk. The next day, a hungover Squealer announces that Napoleon is dying. When Napoleon recovers, he sends for books on brewing and distilling, and orders that the field originally designated as the grazing plot for retired animals be plowed up and planted with barley. The fifth commandment now reads, "No animals shall drink alcohol to excess."
Chapter IX - Although Boxer was injured in the battle, he still works as hard as ever on rebuilding the windmill. The animals are colder and hungrier than last winter, but Squealer again recites statistics to assure them that even with a "readjustment" of rations, they are still much better off than when Jones ran the farm. Since most of the animals cannot remember what life under Jones was like, they believe him.
Thirty-one baby pigs now wear green ribbons on their tails on Sundays and are taught by Napoleon, who has plans to build a schoolhouse. The pigs, fatter than ever, have learned to brew beer and receive a daily ration of it. Once a week the animals participate in a Spontaneous Demonstration to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm, which helps them forget their hunger and misery.
The farm is declared a Republic and Napoleon (the only candidate) is elected President. Moses, the raven, returns with his tales of Sugarcandy Mountain and is allowed to stay. Hardworking Boxer finally collapses. He believes he and Benjamin now will be allowed to retire; however, the wagon that comes to take him to the hospital actually belongs to the horse slaughterer. When Benjamin convinces the others of Boxer's danger, it is too late: Boxer is too feeble to break out of the wagon on his own.
Several days later, Squealer announces that Boxer has died in the hospital and has been buried in town. He reassures the animals that he was there right at the end and that Boxer died saying, "Napoleon is always right." He explains away the wagon and assures the animals that a memorial banquet will be held for Boxer. On the day of the celebration, a case of whiskey is delivered to the pigs, who have somehow found money to pay for it.
Chapter X - Over the years most of the animals who took part in the Rebellion have died, leaving only Clover, Benjamin, Moses, and several of the pigs. None of the animals has ever been allowed to retire. Many animals have been born who have little knowledge of the Rebellion, and those bought by the Farm have never heard of it at all. The farm flourishes. The windmill is used to grind corn, and another is being built. The animals have been told they don't need the hot and cold water and electric lights they thought they would have once the windmill was built. Napoleon tells them "the truest happiness... lay in working hard and living frugally." There are many more pigs and dogs, and even though they do not produce food, their appetites are hearty. The overworked animals often suffer from hunger and cold; however, they never lose sight of the truth that they are members of Animal Farm, the only farm owned and run by animals. They still hope and believe in Major's Republic of the Animals, when all of England will be free of mankind.
Squealer takes the sheep away and teaches them a new slogan. To the horror of the other animals, the pigs begin to walk on two legs, and the sheep drown out their protests with their newly learned slogan, "Four legs good, two legs better." There is only one commandment now: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
The pigs dress in the Jones's clothing, and nearby farmers come for a tour of the farm. The farmers comment favorably on the fact that the animals work longer hours and are fed less than their own animals. Napoleon announces that he is abolishing several practices at the farm such as the use of the "Comrade," Sunday marches, and the horn and hoof symbols on the flag. The farm will resume its original name: The Manor Farm. As the animals peek in the farmhouse windows, to their amazement they can no longer tell who are the pigs and who are the humans.BEFORE READING THE NOVEL
Some time should be spent helping students understand the terms satire, allegory, irony, and fable. Reading a few of Aesop's, La Fontaine's, and especially Thurber's fables will be time well spent. Animal Farm has attributes of the fable, but there is no stated moral at the end. The animals learn nothing from their experience and are still unaware of their real situation. By the end of the novel, students may suggest some possible morals, but none should be offered at this time.
Since Orwell's subtitle is "A Fairy Story," a discussion of the fairy story itself is in order. It would be more valuable to let the students themselves decide the elements of the fairy tale rather than to provide them. Given a few titles such as "Cinderella" or "Sleeping Beauty," they should be able to supply characteristics such as magic, a villain, a damsel-in-distress, a handsome hero, and a happy ending. At this point, reading C. M. Woodhouse's Introduction to the novel is recommended. Make sure students understand how Woodhouse fits Animal Farm to the definition of the fairy tale. After the novel has been read, students can debate the comparison Woodhouse makes between the development and dropping of the atomic bomb and the writing and publishing of Animal Farm.
Students should now be ready to begin reading the novel itself. At least two weeks (and preferably three) should be allowed for the study of the novel. The following reading assignments should be made:
Reading Assignment 1 - Chapters I and II
Reading Assignment 2 - Chapters III and IV
Reading Assignment 3 - Chapter V
Reading Assignment 4 - Chapters VI and VII
Reading Assignment 5 - Chapters VIII and IX
Reading Assignment 6 - Chapter X
Before reading Chapter I, ask students to think about the qualities of a good leader. List these attributes on the board and ask students to write them in a notebook reserves for notes on this novel. Not only should students jot down interesting incidents from the novel as they read, but they should also answer assigned questions in their notebooks.
Next ask students to think about reasons why a government might be overthrown. Current world events may be brought up. What makes people dissatisfied with their leaders and their living conditions? Write the students' ideas on the board and ask them to write these ideas in their notebooks.WHILE READING THE NOVEL
Students should make notes on why the animals rebelled against Mr. Jones and mankind in general. Differences in the lists about actual revolts and those from the novel can be quite revealing. Students will see that there is not much difference in what real people or fictional animals want.
The following are other questions and topics students can answer or explore in their notebooks as they read. You will want to take time at the end of each reading assignment to allow students to discuss their answers to these questions. This will clear up any misunderstandings before the student goes on to the next assignment.
(1) What is significant about how the animals arrange themselves as they gather to hear Major? What might this arrangement say about future meetings or events? (The pigs and dogs sit in the front row. The other animals arrange themselves behind the pigs and dogs. In the future the pigs will be in charge, and the dogs will guard the pigs.)
(2) According to Major, what is the cause of all the animals' problems? (Man is the only real enemy. Man is the only animal who produces nothing, but consumes what animals produce. Get rid of man and all of the animals' problems will be solved.)
(3) What motto does Major give the animals? (He urges them to remember whatever goes on two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes on four legs or has wings is a friend. He also urges them to refrain from coming to resemble man and lists man's vices.)
(4) What are the commandments Major gives the animals? Can you think of ways each of them could be considered a vice?
(a) No animal is ever to live in a house. (Caring more about possessions)
(b) No animal is ever to sleep in a bed. (Becoming lazy, spending too much time in bed sleeping instead of working, luxury)
(c) No animal is ever to wear clothes. (Pride in appearance)
(d) No animal is ever to drink alcohol. (Drinking to excess, forgetting duties)
(e) No animal is ever to smoke tobacco. (Ruining health, expensive habit)
(f) No animal is ever to touch money. (Money corrupts)
(g) No animal is ever to engage in trade. (Profit making)
(h) No animal is ever to tyrannize his own kind. (Slavery)
(i) No animal must ever kill any other animal. (Murder)
(j) All animals are equal. (Competition is self-serving)
(5) Ask a student (or perhaps two or three students) to orally present Major's speech. This speech is meant to stir the animals to the point that they will actually rebel against man. Presenting the speech in various oratorical styles such as those of noted politicians would be enlightening and fun if entered into with enthusiasm.
(6) Examine the song "Beasts of England" as poetry. What imagery is present? What is the message? Why do the animals like it so much that they memorize it on the spot? To what emotions and needs does it appeal? (The song paints a vivid picture of the day when animals are at last free of man and all the symbols of slavery such as whips and spurs are gone. It appeals to their dreams of a more prosperous future, an abundance of food and the absence of cruelty, and the need for hope to keep an individual from giving up.)
When students reach Chapter VII, have them compare this song with the one that replaces it.
(7) Analyze various rallying hymns/songs and compare them to the song "Beasts of England." Consider questions to those in the item above.
(1) After Major's death, what happens to the idea of rebelling against man? (Led by the pigs, especially Napoleon and Snowball, the animals meet secretly for three months and learn the new system of thought called Animalism. Boxer and Clover, the two horses, help to convince the other animals.)
(2) Why don't the pigs like the pet raven Moses' stories about Sugarcandy Mountain? (If the animals believe a fantastic world of ease and plenty awaits them when they die, they will not be as eager to rebel against the life they currently live.)
(3) What causes the animals to finally rebel against Mr. Jones and his four farmhands? (Due to Mr. Jones's drinking problem and dishonest farmhands, the farm has fallen on hard times. The animals have been underfed for some time. When Mr. Jones gets drunk and neither he nor his men feed the animals on Saturday or Sunday (Midsummer's Day), the animals break into the feed storage shed. They attack the men when they come with whips to drive the animals away from the food.)
(4) When the humans have been chased from the farm, what do the animals do? (The bits, nose rings, dog chains, knives, etc. are thrown down the well; the harness, whips and ribbons are thrown on the rubbish fire; and the animals eat double rations and sing "Beasts of England" seven times before they go to sleep.)
(5) What do the animals do about the farmhouse? (They all file through the house looking at all the luxuries. Some hams are taken out and buried, and a barrel of beer is destroyed. The animals agree that the farmhouse is to be preserved as a museum and that no animal may ever live there.)
If this novel is being taught in conjunction with a history class, the reaction of the common people of Russia to the ostentatious wealth of the royal Russian Family should be addressed here.
(6) How does the behavior of the pigs foreshadow their eventual leadership positions? (The pigs have secretly taught themselves to read and write during the past three months. They rename the farm and reduce the principles of Animalism to seven commandments, which Snowball writes on the barn wall. The pigs milk the cows, who are about to burst. When Napoleon sends the rest of the animals off, led by Snowball, to harvest the hay, he stays behind and drinks the milk. No one notices, but the pigs are already proving that, contrary to what they preach, all animals are not equal.)
Chapter III and IV
Before reading the next assignment, have the students write on the following topic in their notebooks: From what you know so far about the pigs and the other animals on the farm, speculate about what the future will be like for the animals. As you continue reading, compare your predictions to what actually happens in the novel.
You can choose to let students work in pairs or individually to answer the following questions in their notebooks.
(1) What further examples of the difference between the pigs and the other animals occur in these two chapters? (The pigs only direct and supervise; they do no actual work. No one but the pigs puts forth any resolutions at the meetings. Napoleon and Snowball disagree over everything. The harness-room is set aside as the pigs' headquarters. Snowball busies himself forming committees to solve real and imagined problems. The pigs try to teach the other animals how to read and write, with unsatisfactory results. The apples are set aside for the pigs' use only.)
(2) What are Napoleon's ideas about education? (He thinks education is more important for the young than for those already grown-up. He takes away Jessie and Bluebell's puppies to educate them.)
(3) How is Squealer able to convince the other animals to accept whatever Napoleon decides? (Squealer uses outright lies, "scientific proof" - false, of course - and appeals to the animals' sympathy. He always ends with the threat that Jones will return if the pigs are not obeyed.)
(4) Describe the Battle of the Cowshed.
(5) What was Snowball's part in this battle? (Because Snowball has studied Julius Caesar's military strategies, he is able to plan a successful defense of the farm. He leads the animals in the attack and is wounded slightly.)
(6) Where is Napoleon during the battle? (No mention is made of him or his activities, which leads one to believe he played a very minor role in the battle.)
(7) What is the significance of the gun's placement at the foot of the flagpole? (The gun symbolizes the successful fight against the humans. It will be fired ceremonially twice a year to celebrate the Battle of the Cowshed and the anniversary of the Midsummer's Day Rebellion.)
Suggest that students make a list of all the changes that occur in this chapter. From this list they will find vivid evidence of the pigs' increasing power.
(1) Why does Mollie run away from the farm? (Mollie likes being admired, admiring herself, wearing pretty ribbons, eating sugar, and being stroked by humans. She does not like the work on the farm or the hardships she faces there.)
(2) What changes have been made in the weekly meetings over the last year? (The pigs now decide all questions of farm policy. Snowball and Napoleon still disagree over almost everything. Although Snowball is more skillful at making speeches capable of swaying the animals, the sheep interrupt him more and more with their chants of "Four legs good, two legs bad."
(3) Explain the windmill controversy from Snowball's point of view. (Snowball wants the animals to build a windmill so they will have electrical power to make life easier for all of them - light and heat in the stalls and labor-saving devices such as electrical milking machines. The animals would only have to work three days a week when it was finished.)
(4) Explain the windmill controversy from Napoleon's point of view. (He thinks the major problem on the farm is increasing food production. He thinks the whole windmill thing is nonsense, or so he says, and urinates on Snowball's plans.)
(5) What changes does Napoleon make after his dogs chase Snowball off the farm? (There will be no more Sunday Meetings. All decisions about the farm will be made by a committee of pigs presided over by Napoleon. The animals will now meet on Sundays to salute the flag, sing "Beasts of England," and receive their orders for the week.)
(6) Why don't the other animals protest Napoleon's decisions? (None of them is really smart enough to bring up any arguments. The sheep begin their bleating, and the dogs growl before anyone can think of a protest. Squealer later explains the decisions. He begins to shed doubts on Snowball's bravery at the Battle of the Cowshed and again threatens them with the return of Jones if they don't agree with Napoleon.)
(7) Note how the animals now arrange themselves when they enter the barn to receive their orders, as compared with the description in Chapter I. (Napoleon, Squealer, and Minimus, the poet, sit on a raised platform, The nine dogs sit in a semicircle around the three, and the other pigs sit behind them. The rest of the animals stand facing the pigs.)
(8) What is the importance of the dogs' accompanying Squealer when he comes to talk to the animals? (Napoleon wants to make sure there is no protest or rebellion against his orders. In addition to Squealer's natural ability to convince, he has three vicious dogs to back him up. Naturally, no one protests.)
Chapters VI and VII
Before going on to the next reading assignment, ask students to imagine how Snowball might have run things if he had gotten rid of Napoleon. Would things have been any different? Are there indications that Snowball's ideas for running the farm would have proved more beneficial to the animals? Or would things have turned out the same? Because Orwell is writing about the corrupting force of power, things might have remained the same. After some discussion, ask students to assume one side or the other of the issue (That Snowball would have been a better leader, or that he would not have been) and write a persuasive composition using details from the first five chapters to support their positions. These compositions could serve as a basis for a formal debate or a panel discussion.
(1) How much work are the animals now doing? (The animals still believe they are working for themselves. Although they already work a 60-hour week during spring and summer, Napoleon informs them that they can volunteer for Sunday afternoon work, as well. However, any animal not volunteering will have his rations cut in half.)
(2) Why does Napoleon decide to engage in trade with neighboring farms? (Because certain items such as paraffin oil and dog biscuits are in short supply, Napoleon decides to sell a stack of hay and part of the wheat crop. Later they may have to sell some of the hens' eggs.)
(3) How do the animals react? (They are troubled and think they remember a resolution against trade with humans. Four young pigs try to protest but are silenced by the dogs' growls and the sheeps' bleating of the slogan, "Four legs good, two legs bad." Squealer later explains the decision and asks if they have seen such a resolution written down, but no such record is found.)
(4) How is the windmill destroyed? Why does Napoleon blame Snowball? (A violent November storm blows it down. Instead of admitting that the windmill's walls were not thick enough to support it against a strong wind, Napoleon blames Snowball for blowing it up. Since Snowball had drawn up the plans, the blame for its failure is partly his.)
(5) Why does Napoleon insist the windmill must be rebuilt immediately? (Napoleon probably had many reasons, including preventing the animals from becoming too discouraged to begin building if they wait until spring. By keeping the animals busy building a windmill that will supposedly ease life for all of them, the animals will forget how miserably cold and hungry they are during the hard winter.)
(6) Why does Napoleon order that the hens' eggs be sold? (The animals are nearly starving and there is almost no food left. The hens must give up their eggs for sale so that meal and grain can be purchase for the good of all.)
(7) How does Napoleon react when the hens rebel against his orders? (He orders the hens' food rations cut off. If any other animals give any food to the chickens, they are to be killed. The dogs enforce his orders. Nine hens die of starvation before then hens give up their five-day protest.)
(8) Why does Napoleon revive the threat of the farm being sabotaged by Snowball? (Snowball is the perfect scapegoat, the one who can be blamed when something goes wrong. It is not the pigs' fault when a storage-shed key is lost, or the cows' fault when they don't give much milk - it is Snowball's fault. They need an outside enemy to hate, someone they can accuse in place of wrongdoers. Snowball is discredited totally through the use of lies and false accusations. The other animals want to disagree but can't, and finally give in and agree with Boxer that if Napoleon says it is so, it is, because "Napoleon is always right.")
(9) Explain why the animals confessed to being traitors. Or is there any explanation? (The four pigs who are taken first are the same four who had disagreed previously with Napoleon's decisions. They probably are guilty of not wholeheartedly supporting Napoleon's policies. Certainly, they do not expect to be killed for it. There is a resolution against animals killing one another. However death is the punishment. Next, the three hens who had led the egg rebellion confess, as do many others, to crimes against the state. All the dissidents are killed on the spot. Probably most of them did not support one or more of Napoleon's policies, so in that sense they were guilty. They undoubtedly expected forgiveness rather than death. However, death might be seen as a release for these poor animals at this point. No doubt a certain amount of mass hysteria would have contributed to the large number of confessions.)
(10) Why does Napoleon order the animals to stop singing "Beasts of England?" (The rebellion is over, and the pigs are in control of the farm. Even though the rest of the animals seem too dull-witted to realize that the pigs are just as bad as Mr. Jones, one might finally realize that one rebellion was not enough and lead another rebellion, this time against the pigs. The bleating of the sheep keeps any of the animals from protesting. One of the last traces of the society envisioned by Major is now gone, replaced by a patriotic song about Napoleon, leader of Animal Farm.)
Students will probably want to talk about Chapter VII and may need more of an explanation of the murders of the animals. Even though the resolution against animals killing animals has not been broken before, there have been threats of death to wrongdoers. Nine of the hens were starved to death - not murdered, but close enough. Point out how the animals react to the murders and how they gain some comfort by gathering together and singing "Beasts of England." What will comfort them, now that the song has been banned?
Chapters VIII and IX
(1) What purpose is served by the production figures Squealer reads to the animals? (The pigs fool the other animals by manipulating facts and figures to prove they are producing more and are much better off than they have ever been before. Nobody can dispute facts! Not even today.)
ACTIVITY: Students may create a bulletin board display by collecting advertisements from newspapers and magazines that use figures to support their pitch. Ads that parody truth in advertising would help make the point.
(2) How is Napoleon becoming more and more like a typical dictator? (He is rarely seen in public, is always surrounded by his guard dogs, has an entourage that attends him whenever he goes out, has his own apartment in the house, has a taster for his food, and eats alone off fine china. The gun is also fired on his birthday. He has added many titles to his name, including "Terror of Mankind.")
(3) Compare/contrast the poem "Comrade Napoleon" to "Beast of England." (Either make a copy of both poems for students (side by side, preferably) or write the first stanza of each on the board. Then work through the rhyme scheme, etc. "Beasts of England" is made up of four-line stanzas (quatrains) with an A, B, C, B rhyme scheme. It is trochaic tetrameter (four stressed, unstressed feet per line). The word beasts is repeated frequently, and the whole song concerns the freeing of all beasts from man's tyranny. The new song, "Comrade Napoleon," is made up of three 7-line stanzas (septets) with an A, A, B, C, C, C, B rhyme scheme. The lines, however, do not have any set meter. No two lines are the same. it is an ironic parody of Napoleon's real behavior, a subject unlikely to greatly inspire the animals.)
(4) Describe the sale of the stack of lumber. How does Napoleon outwit himself? (The lumber is to be sold first to Mr. Pilkington and then to Mr. Frederick. Napoleon plays the men against each other until he gets the price he wants. He insists on being paid in banknotes, which turn out to be forgeries. When Frederick attacks the farm, Pilkington refuses to help Napoleon.)
(5) What makes the battle against Frederick's men different from the Battle of the Cowshed? (There is no strategic defense planned for the farm. The men are better prepared and have more weapons, and the leaderless animals quickly hide.)
(6) Why do the men blow up the windmill? (No doubt the humans see it as a symbol of the pigs' ability to run the farm. By destroying the product of the animals' considerable labor, the men probably think they will give up and Mr. Jones will regain his farm.)
(7) The animals celebrate a victory, but at what cost? (The windmill is destroyed; Boxer has a split hoof, bleeding knees, and buckshot in his hind leg; several animals have been killed; and all of the animals, except Squealer who hid, are injured.)
(8) Describe the whisky incident. Why would Orwell make this scene somewhat humorous? (The idea of pigs drinking whiskey, getting drunk, singing, and doing silly things - such as Napoleon wearing a bowler hat and running around the yard - is humorous. Some of the students may know how painful a hangover is and will sympathize with the pigs who think they are dying. The first reaction of the pigs is to banish all alcohol under threat of death to anyone who drinks it. Given a chance to recover, however, the pigs (like many humans) decide it isn't so bad after all. They learn how to make beer and take the land that was to be used by the retired animals, so that they can plant barley.)
(9) Why are the animals so easily fooled, even when they find Squealer with a ladder and white paint beside the barn at night? (Most of the animals cannot read and make no connection between this incident and the commandments written on the wall. They are very naive, except for Benjamin, who refuses to say anything. Then too, the dogs hustle Squealer away before anyone can ask him anything. Later, when Muriel reads the commandments, she finds she had forgotten that one of them really said, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.")
(10) What is happening to Boxer? (Boxer is working himself to death. He is not recovering from his injuries as quickly as he should, because he practices his own motto, "I will work harder.")
(11) What are living conditions like for all of the animals except the pigs and dogs? (The animals are working harder than ever and are given less food. Rations are cut repeatedly, a "readjustment" according to Squealer, who uses more facts and figures to prove how well off the animals really are. And the animals believe it!)
(12) Why does Napoleon allow Moses to return and to tell his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain? (The animals' physical condition is so miserable that they need the hope of a better life after death. With this promise, they will put up with more privation since they will eventually be rewarded. Students might see a parallel between Sugarcandy Mountain and heaven. People generally need to look forward to something.)
ACTIVITY: Students can write about what they look forward to, describing how those things will make their lives better or more enjoyable. Students often dream of the day they will get married, or get a job, or leave home, or reach 21, or win the lottery.
(13) What happens to Boxer? How do the animals accept it? (Boxer finally injures himself while dragging stone for the windmill, and is taken away to the knacker to be made into glue, dogfood, fertilizer, etc. Squealer tells the animals that Boxer died in the hospital and repeats Boxer's final words, the two maxims by which Boxer lived and died. The animals want to believe what they are told, but only Benjamin understands what really happened. He had tried to stop them from taking Boxer, but was unable to do so. The money the pigs get for the dead Boxer is spent on whiskey.)
(14) Of what kind of person does Benjamin remind you? Give some examples. What is your opinion of such people? What makes people behave this way? (Students may wonder why Benjamin has waited so long to speak up about what is happening. He is an interesting character - cynical, knowing, but determined not to become involved. He alone knows what the pigs are doing. Perhaps if he had been aggressive sooner, he might have been able to save Boxer. He is like many people who know something is wrong but ignore it since it does not involve them - until it is too late.)
(1) What changes have the years brought to the farm? (Most of the animals who were alive during the Rebellion are dead. The farm is now prosperous. Other animals have been bought to replace the dead ones. The windmill has been finished, but instead of generating electricity to help all the animals, it is used for milling corn to make money for the pigs. Napoleon tells the animals that the truest happiness "lay in working hard and living frugally." And they do that.)
(2) How does Orwell make fun of bureaucracy? (The pigs now spend hours typing up reports, minutes, and memos, which are then burned in the furnace. The pigs and dogs accomplish nothing productive by all this paperwork, but their appetites are always good.)
(3) How do the animals now feel about their social order, their farm? (The animals, even the new ones, are proud to be a part of the only farm in England run by animals. They still believe there will be a time when man will be defeated and only animals will tread English soil. They are very pleased that at least on this farm no beings walk upon two legs.)
(4) What drastic actions do the pigs use to shatter the animals' complacency? (The pigs begin to walk upright on two legs, Napoleon carries a whip, the pigs begin to wear the Jones's clothing, a telephone is installed, and they subscribe to newspapers. The sheep have been taught a new motto, "Four legs good, two legs better.")
(5) All seven commandments are erased. What is the new commandment and how has it been true from the beginning? (The new commandment reads: "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS." This commandment has been true from the beginning when Napoleon drank the milk, when the pigs had already taught themselves to read and write, and when the pigs merely supervised while the other animals worked. Now the pigs have openly stated what has always been true.)
(6) At the conference with neighboring farmers, what new changes does Napoleon point out? (The farm is cooperatively owned by all the pigs. The animals will no longer call each other "Comrade." There will be no more marches by Major's skull. The flag is now a field of green with the horn and hoof removed. And the name of the farm has been changed back to The Manor Farm. All traces of the Rebellion have been erased.)
(7) What happens to the pigs' appearance? (As the animals watch, the pigs begin to resemble the humans. There are no longer any differences between them. The animals can finally see their true situation, but it is too late to do anything about it.)AFTER READING THE NOVEL
The richest exploration of the novel comes after it has been read. While some of the following activities may be required of all students, individual involvement with the novel will be enhanced if students are allowed to choose from among the suggested activities or ones that they propose themselves. Also, students should be encouraged to pursue activities that invite more personal involvement, such as the dramatic and arts/crafts options.
Discussion and/or Written Questions
(1) Compare/contrast students' written expectation of what would happen after Chapter II with what actually happened. These comparison/contrasts can be made either orally or in a written assignment.
(2) After doing research on the Russian Revolution, point out similarities between real events and people and those in the novel. As a variation, do the same with any subsequent rebellion around the world since 1917.
(3) Explain how Animal Farm can been seen as a fable even though it does not have a moral stated at the end. Provide a moral of your own and explain it in terms of the novel.
(4) Remember Orwell's subtitle is "A Fairy Story." Explain how the novel fits this subtitle, citing supporting details.
(5) Give examples of peer pressure as used in the novel, paying close attention to Boxer and the sheep.
(6) Speculate on why Orwell made the reader sympathize with all of the animals except the pigs, who are the most intelligent beasts and the closest to humans of any of the animals.
(7) Look at the list of good leadership qualities made at the beginning of the novel. How do the pigs fit this list? Were there any attributes that the pigs lacked? Did they have some that were not on the list? Write a paper explaining how the pigs do and/or do not qualify as good leaders. Use specific examples.
(8) Discuss the importance of education as it evolves during the course of the novel. At the same time, address the distinctions that may be made between education and indoctrination.
(9) Clover saw many changes on the farm after the first mention of the Rebellion at the meeting with Major. How does her character change? What/who is she meant to represent? What is she thinking as she sees her husband carted off to his death? Put yourself in her mind and write an explanation of major events from her point of view.
(10) Write a continuation of the novel beginning at the point where the novel ends. Could a new revolutionary leader appear? Might Benjamin decide to take a more active role? When and how might the society fail?
(11) Explore Mr. Whymper's possible motives for helping the pigs. Consider how he benefits, what problems he faces with both the pigs and the humans, and whether he will continue to benefit from working with the pigs.
(12) Trace the defamation of Snowball's character from the planning of the windmill to the end of the book. Give specific examples.
(13) Explain why an "enemy" or scapegoat is necessary for the animals. Why does the "enemy" have to change? If there were no "enemy," what would that mean for any society, including that of Animal Farm?
(14) Why did Woodhouse in his introduction to Animal Farm compare the writing of this novel to the development of the atomic bomb?
(15) Watch the movie version of Animal Farm. How effective are the cartoon characters? How does the movie version differ from the book? What would account for the differences?
(16) Read Lord of the Flies and compare/contrast the characters, situations, governments that evolve, and the endings of both novels.
(17) Look at the names of the characters. Why did Orwell use the names he did? How do the names fit the characters?
Examples: Mr. Jones could represent any man. Jones is a common a name as Smith. If he were named Mr. Edgewater, it would individualize him too much. All we know about Jones is that he drinks too much and sometimes is cruel to his animals.
(1) Select major events from the book and present each as part of a series
of televised news reports, possibly on videotape.
(2) Present dramatizations of selected scenes for the class. The meeting scenes provide opportunities for dramatic conflict as well as involving many characters. A set based on the novel could be developed.
(3) Convert the novel into a puppet show. Make simple puppets, such as stick puppets, finger puppets, or paperbag puppets, and present the novel or selected scenes.
(4) Give a reader's theater presentation of selected scenes.
(5) Write a dialogue between Snowball and Napoleon as it might have happened over the need for a windmill. Try to be consistent with the characters as they are presented in the book. Then perform this exchange for the class.
(1) Draw a series of pictures of characters presenting situations and ideas
from the book.
(2) Make a scale model of Animal Farm, paying close attention to details given in the book in order to create a realistic model.
(3) Convert the events of the novel into a ballad or song. Write the lyrics and music or adapt words to a melody by someone else. It might even be a song the muppet Miss Piggy would sing.
(4) Design and make your own T-shirt with an illustration about the novel. Create a design using colorfast marking pens.
(5) Design a wardrobe for the cast of characters in the novel.
(6) Make a diorama or shadow box depicting the setting, characters, or the theme from the novel. Shoe boxes are ideal for this project.
(7) Develop time-line charts comparing the history of various totalitarian societies to Animal Farm.
Animal Farm, A Critical Commentary. New York: American R.D.M.
Baker, Isadore L. George Orwell. Animal Farm. London: Brodie, 1961.
Brown, Spencer. "Strange Doings on Animal Farm," in Commentary. XIX (February, 1955), pp. 155-161
Carter, Thomas. "Group Psychology Phenomena of a Political System as Satirized in Animal Farm: An Application of the Theories of W.R. Bion," in Human Relations. XXVII (June 1974), pp. 525-546.
Colquitt, Betsey F. "Orwell: Traditionalist in Wonderland," in Discourse. VIII (Autumn 1965), pp. 370-383.
Cook, Richard. "Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell," in Modern Fiction Studies. VII (Summer 1961), pp. 125-135.
Harward, Timothy B. European Patterns: Contemporary Patterns in European Writing. Chester Springs, PA: DuFour, 1967, pp. 44-48.
Hoggart, Richard. Speaking to Each Other: Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970, vol. 2, pp. 106-110.
Hopkinson, Tom. "Animal Farm," in World Review. XVI (June 1950), pp. 54-57.
Kubal, David L. Outside the Whale: George Orwell's Art and Politics. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1972, pp. 37-40, 122-130.
Lee, Robert. Orwell's Fiction. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1969, pp. 105-127. "The Uses of Form: A Reading of Animal Farm," in Studies in Short Fiction. VI (1969), pp. 557-573.
Meyers, Jeffrey. "Orwell's Bestiary: The Political Allegory of Animal Farm," in Studies in the Twentieth Century. VIII (1971), pp. 65-84. A Reader's Guide to George Orwell. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975, pp. 130-143.
Oxley, B.T. George Orwell. New York: Arco, 1969, pp. 75-82.
Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr. "Mr. Orwell and the Communists," in New York Times Book Review. (August 25, 1946), pp. 1, 28.
Zwerdling, Ales. Orwell and the New Left. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974, pp. 88-96, 198-199, 203-207.
Teaching the Novel
Cooper, Nancy. "Animal Farm: An Explication for Teachers
of Orwell's Novel," in California English Journal. IV (1968), pp. 59-69.
Gulbin, Suzanne. "Parallels and Contrasts in Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm," in English Journal. LV (1966), pp. 86-90.
Halas, John and Joy Batchelor, Directors. Animal Farm. Louis de Rochemont, Producer, 1955.
Adams, Richard. Watership Down. New York: Macmillan, 1972.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Putnam, 1954.
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. New York: Signet Classic, 1963.
Sleator, William. House of Stairs. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1974.
Hazel K. Davis, teacher of English and reading at Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, has been president of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN) and the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts. She is a reviewer for The ALAN Review and often speaks and writes on literature for young adults. She is co-editor of the 1988 edition of Your Reading, the junior high/middle school booklist for NCTE.ABOUT THE GUIDE EDITORS
Serving for nearly 20 years as Chair of the Secondary English Committee, Department of Language Education at the University of Georgia, W. Geiger (Guy) Ellis received his A.B. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of North Carolina and his Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. For over 25 years, Guy has been active in teaching adolescent literature in the classroom and in training future teachers in its use, lecturing and writing extensively on the subject. He developed and edited The ALAN Review (NCTE) from 1978 to 1984, changing its focus from a newsletter to a fully refereed journal with an emphasis on articles with research and instructional significance. His research has had heavy emphasis on the content of literature instruction.
Currently Associate Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Arthea (Charlie) J.S. Reed has taught for 20 years on both the high school and college level. She received her A.B. (Bethany College) and her M.S. (Southern Connecticut State University) in English and her Ph.D. (Florida State University) in Teacher Education. In addition to teaching, Charlie has edited The ALAN Review (NCTE) from 1984 to 1990 and served as Co-Director of the Mountain Area Writing Project (a part of the National Writing Project) from 1982 to 1988. She is also the author of Reaching Adolescents: Young Adult Books and the School (Holt, 1985) and Comics to Classics: A Parents' Guide to Books for Teens and Preteens (IRA, 1988).
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