In Animal Farm, what are the qualities associated with pigs that made them the author's choice for the leaders of the farm?In Animal Farm, what are the qualities associated with pigs that made them...

In Animal Farm, what are the qualities associated with pigs that made them the author's choice for the leaders of the farm?

In Animal Farm, what are the qualities associated with pigs that made them the author's choice for the leaders of the farm?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very interesting question.  It might prove quite illuminating to go through the list of animals that Orwell uses and match their biological tendencies to how they are presented in the book.  For the pigs, Orwell made a very conscious decision to place them in such a position in the text.  On one hand, pigs are considered to be "highly social and intelligent animals."  This is something that Orwell banks on from the start of the novel in describing how these characters make them well suited for power.  At the start of Old Major's speech in the first chapter, the pigs are situated in the front, listening and hanging on to every word of Old Major, almost as if they are applying what he is saying as he is saying it.  Certainly, Squealer and Snowball also display their intelligence for different ends once they are in the position of power.  They are also social in that they are the ones who spread Old Major's word after he dies.  For example, Snowball is committed to the cause and goes to different animals and talks to them about Animalism and how it needs to be adopted, stressing the need for transformation.  His discussions with Mollie are most noteworthy in this sense.  The pigs do not remain unto themselves, using their social nature to instigate change.  They are also omnivores, enabling them to eat almost anything that helps to sustain them.  This is something we see specifically with Napoleon in how he is able to broker deals with neighboring farms in order to strengthen his own position and how he and the other pigs in power conveniently use Old Major's ideas when it suits them and then revert back to Jones' way when it suits them.  Finally, when examining a pig's sense of smell, one notices how their snout allows them to discern different olfactory experiences.  Napoleon's sense of smell in terms of being able to "sniff" out rebellion is what allows him to consolidate his power, as seen in Chapter 7 with his forced confessions and the brutality that follows.  Squealer also uses his sense of smell to "sniff" out when he is needed to spin what is being done to the animals as being done for their benefit.

rugbykats eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some qualities associated with pigs that make them the author's choice could be that they are smart, greedy and selfish.

Pigs have been shown to be fairly intelligent animals, and Orwell certainly uses them as such in "Animal Farm." They outsmart the other animals continually.

Pigs are often thought of as greedy and fat animals. We, of course, use that comparison in our language today when we call someone a "pig." The pigs of "Animal Farm" certainly demonstrate greed in keeping the best of everything for themselves.

Pigs also are considered selfish and will fight fiercely to protect what they consider their own. The pigs of "Animal Farm" had no qualms about setting the dogs on anyone they deemed to be enemies of the farm.

You could also draw a comparison between pigs' enjoyment of wallowing in the mud and their willingness to do the "dirty work" of running the farm, such as bending the rules to suit their needs, making deals with humans from other farms, or sending Boxer to the knacker in exchange for whiskey.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I used this as a question on a web quest last year, and learned a lot of things about pigs that I had not known. I had no idea that pigs were so intelligent, for one thing. Pigs are also kept as pets by many people, and they are very human-like in many ways. We even use their organs as transplants!
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The pigs are simply the most intelligent animals on the farm in the book and it seems this is mostly true in real life. Pigs have been given a bad reputation, associated with wallowing in filth, etc. Yet, pigs are among the most intelligent of common farm animals if not the most intelligent. 

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Animal Farm

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