Benjamin, the dour and unflinching Donkey, frequently assumes a sort of "middle ground" regarding events on Animal Farm. He repeatedly states that "Donkeys live a long time," and that regardless of political outcomes, "life would go on as it always had-badly (p 41)." Discuss the symbolism of Benjamin and his various pronouncements. What role does this character serve in Animal Farm?
Benjamin is the cynic on the farm and he makes no effort to hide it. He believes that the conditions on the farm are bad and that no change in power would ever really change the conditions on the farm for the animals so he opts not to participate. He is the intellectual, he can read, but he only does so when it suits him. He reads the side of the Knacker truck when Boxer is taken away to be slaughtered, but only after it is too late to save him.
Benjamin, like the other characters, was written by Orwell to represent some piece of World War II. Bejamin represents the intelligent old cynics who refused to get involved in the political drama of World War II because they had seen power change hands so many times and conditions never changed. The people never really had any power and life never really improved over time. They believed that "this too would pass" and if they simply waited it out something new would come along.