I first read this book when I was too young to understand the satire or the political motivations that motivated George Orwell to write it. I then read it in high school, and had a vague understanding that is was an incredibly important book. I also had the vague notion that great authors wrote fiction for political commentary and awareness of social injustice. I read it as a child and enjoyed reading about animals. It’s no more violent than stories we already read to our children. Now, as an adult I can appreciate Orwell’s criticisms, having developed my own political viewpoints. As a child or even as a teenager, I could not have articulated those.
I remember that it didn’t really appeal to me, even though we thoroughly discussed the symbolism and dissected each character’s motives. I am not going to do that in this review. Simply, it is a beautifully written short novel that someone can finish in a day. The language is simple, the characters intriguing. Even without understanding that this was a representation of the Russian Revolution in 1917, one can appreciate it as a well written story.
From the beginning, I really wanted the animals on the farm to work together and succeed. Of course, that’s not going to happen. As things progressed, the leaders of the revolution became too powerful and created the same conditions the animals rebelled from. Orwell was clearly not a fan of Stalin or the corruption of the Soviet government. While most people see this as an indictment of Orwell’s dislike of communism or socialism, I also see it representing corruption in any form of government. Government is a man-made institution and can be as flawed as the people who create it. Without an educated populous, the leaders cannot be kept in check and can create a regime just as corrupt as the previous one.
Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, it’s important to continue to reevaluate your viewpoints and how they stand up to an ever-changing social context. It is still a relevant book that is definitely worth a reread every now and then.