In Animal Farm, what do the green tail ribbons of the pigs represent?
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Early in the book, one of the tenants of Animalism is that no animal should wear clothing, since that is a human trait and humans are bad. This includes decorative ribbons, which the horses sometimes wear on Market Day, and Boxer's straw hat which keeps the flies out of his ears. However, it becomes clear that the pigs are becoming more rulers and less equal citizens.
About this time, too, it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays.
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)
The pigs, in slowly creating their superiority over the other animals, have already begun to adopt human characteristics, such as living in the farmhouse and sleeping in beds. The green ribbons, the color of the Animal Farm flag, serve as a reminder to the other animals that the pigs are superior and more worthy of respect, and that they should be obeyed without question. They act as a mark of "otherness," separating the working-class animals from the elite-class pigs.
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