In his novel titled Animal Farm, why did George Orwell choose to name the raven/crow "Moses"? Why did he chose that name from the Bible?Please provide specific examples of how the raven compares to...

In his novel titled Animal Farm, why did George Orwell choose to name the raven/crow "Moses"? Why did he chose that name from the Bible?

Please provide specific examples of how the raven compares to the Moses in the Bible. I know he symbolizes the Russian Orthodox Church, but I would like to know the meaning behind his name. Thanks!

Asked on by carechldrn

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In George Orwell’s novel titled Animal Farm, the raven named “Moses” is often interpreted as a symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church. Why, however, did Orwell choose the specific name “Moses” for this character?  Several possible answers suggest themselves, including the following:

  • At one point, the narrator calls Moses “the tame raven” (that is, the pet owned by the human farmer, Mr. Jones), and then describes him more fully:

Moses, who was Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker.

Moses in the Bible was famous for his articulate eloquence. He was not merely a leader but a writer who composed the opening portions of the Bible. Perhaps Orwell chose to call his raven “Moses” in order to associate this character with a Biblical figure who was especially known as a “clever talker.”

  • Later, the narrator says of Moses the raven that

He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.

The Biblical Moses was not merely a prophet but the very first prophet. It was Moses, after all, who supposedly had first-hand contact with God, just as it was Moses who delivered the Ten Commandments to the Hebrews. It was Moses who was chiefly responsible for proclaiming the truths of the Hebrew religion, just as it is Orwell’s Moses who proclaims the satisfactions and promises of “Sugarcandy Mountain,” which obviously resembles the Hebrew/Christian idea of heaven.

  • Just as Moses in the Bible claimed to have had personal contact with God and to have glimpsed the “promised land” of milk and honey, so Moses the raven in Orwell’s novel

claimed to have been there [that is, to Sugarcandy Mountain] on one of his higher flights, and to have seen the everlasting fields of clover and the linseed cake and lump sugar growing on the hedges.

Although the name “Moses” was probably chosen for the raven simply because that name had strong religious connotations, a few specific parallels between Moses the prophet and Moses the raven do seem to exist.