What are the connotations of these words in Animal Farm?
Sugarcandy, Discipline, Whymper, Minimus, Cannibalism
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Successful writers pick their words very carefully. The connotation of a word is the general meaning that is usually ascribed to the word, which may or may not be the same as the denotation, which is the dictionary definition. Sometimes writers like to choose words that serve more than one function, or words that help deepen the reader's understanding of the story.
- The word “sugarcandy” comes from the term Sugarcandy Mountain, which the animals think of as heaven. Orwell uses the word sugarcandy to signify that it is an idea that sounds good but is not necessarily substantial or good for you.
- The word “discipline” is used by Napoleon to try to inspire the animals to work harder. Although it refers to the ideas of hard work and self-control, for Napoleon it really sacrifice on the part of the animals for his benefit.
- The word “Minimus” is the name of a pig who composes songs and poems in support of Napoleon and the revolution. Notice how similar it is to the word “minimum,” which means the least possible amount. Orwell is commenting on what the arts were like in Russia at that time—probably not worth a whole lot.
- The word “Whymper” is the name of a human who is doing business as an intermediary between Napoleon and the outside human world. Notice that is sounds the same as the word “whimper,” which is a negative term referring to whiny and possibly untrustworthy behavior.
- “Cannibalism,” of course, means to eat one’s own kind. At one point, Orwell tells us that the other farms are spreading rumors about Animal Farm to discredit them and the revolution. Specifically, they claim that the animals on Animal Farm are practicing cannibalism. If they can convince the animals on neighboring farms that the Animal Farm animals are behaving immorally, they can make the revolution look like a bad idea.
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