Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Ever since revelations about PRISM came out in 2013, I saw references to George Orwell's writing. Two works of fiction: Animal Farm and 1984 have been mentioned several times in media and on Reddit.

I personally liked Animal Farm very much. It gave a new meaning to words like satire, politics, manipulation, memory and most of all perception. No amount of description on my part can substitute a reading of the book. You can read the whole book on Project Gutenberg here.

In short, a group of animals living on a farm rebel against the owner. Manor Farm is now Animal Farm, out of respect to the new philosophy called Animalism. Out of the animals, the pigs take a leadership role. Slowly but surely, the pigs start to gain privileges over others, playing power games amongst themselves. One of the pigs wins the power games and starts a dynasty of his own. Slowly the commandments are altered to suit the rulers, animals are being killed in the spirit of the farm, and the situation of most of the animals remains more or less the same. Only the oppression by humans is now replaced by the discipline and development undertaken by the animals. In the end, the farm is renamed to Manor Farm and the head of the pigs is seen partying with a human farmer.

If I had the power to do it, I would make it compulsory reading in schools. That this goes against the spirit of the book is another matter :-)

Here are some excerpts:

Now that we are in power, no more rebellions are required. Oh yeah!

Executions of animals by animals, when one of
the commandments was to reduce killing by humans.

Serves you right.

To paraphrase a Punjabi saying, this is eating a fly with one's eyes wide open!

Weber would be proud of this bureaucracy!

And now pigs walk on two legs!

And the more equal than others meme was born.

Here it became apparent that Mr. Pilkington was about to spring some carefully prepared witticism on the company, but for a moment he was too overcome by amusement to be able to utter it. After much choking, during which his various chins turned purple, he managed to get it out: "If you have your lower animals to contend with," he said, "we have our lower classes!" This bon mot set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.

Inspirational to say the least

Rats are comrades now!

Only the pigs would end up wearing ribbons later on.

In summary,
Humans: Bad!
Animals: Good?

The cat is the most entertaining cameo character.

Of course the leaders need privileges.

To use the words of a song, this is Killing In The Name

Elections as an integral part of the political process :-)

Tactics, comrades, tactics!

Just playing with the commandment against beds.

If comrade Napolean says it, it must be right.

Most of all, I think I now understand the concept of symbolism.


  1. Animal Farm sure is a good one indeed. Been a while since I read it. I think we need to be older, unlike how it was forced on us in school, to fully appreciate the symbolism.

    1. I think the reason it was forced on you in school was that this book is against Communism the way it went on in USSR. Having said that, I feel it applies to any and all sorts of social situations. A hierarchy will come up everywhere and the 'leaders' will always try to sabotage everything for their benefit.

  2. I do agree with Pat above. Animal Farm made a huge impression on me as an older teenager. Only now, and with life experience, do I appreciate the strong messages it conveyed.

    By the way KK, take a read of this to answer your question.

    1. You are right. The messages conveyed are greater than the immediate context.

      Also, thank you for alerting me to Mist Nets. Even though I am not a bird watching person, I have learnt a lot from you and one of my senior colleagues, who does photography and participates in tiger census exercises here.

  3. KK Bhai, visited your blog after so many years. In fact,logged in to my blogger after so many years. Nice to see that you are still active and writing here.

    1. Welcome back! Hope to see a lot of writing from you!

  4. While there are several facets to Mr. Orwell’s allegorical description, I think the main point of the story is Boxer and Benjamin. Boxer is not intelligent but a hard worker. Benjamin is lazy and wants to maintain status quo.

    1. You are right. Most of us are either Boxer or Benjamin in our lives.

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog. My kids must have read The Animal Farm.

    1. I liked your blog very much. Hoping to visit it in future as well.