How has the world changed since 1946, and how did George Orwell's Animal Farm prophecy these changes?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the 1980s the Russian Communist regime that began in 1922 fell, bringing the Iron Curtain crashing down as well. The creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was lead by Lenin in 1924, which is symbolized by Snowball in George Orwell's Animal Farm. However, by the 1980s, it had become very apparent that Communism was not working out in Russia. Russia was struggling economically, and the people were suffering far more than they ever did under the rule of the Tsar. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the USSR and instigated many reforms, including restructuring both the political and economic systems. In particular, by 1987, he established the Law of State Enterprises, which gave businesses more independence from the state, making businesses a bit more capitalistic. He even began the process of holding elections for some candidates for leadership roles within the Communist Party. He even replaced the Communist Party's parliament with the Congress of People's Deputies, members of which were to be elected by the people. However, while Gorbachev only meant to stabilize the Communist Party by modernizing it a bit, his reforms actually stirred up political unrest, bringing the downfall of Communism (Nedzarek).

Animal Farm does not specifically allude to anything that happened beyond the 1940s; however, it is very clear from the last chapter that the animals were not happy with their political reforms, nor were they happy with what the pigs, their political leaders, became. The pigs literally became exactly like humans, and the humans symbolized the rule of the Tsar. Since Orwell depicted the animal's unrest in the last chapter, we can say that Orwell prophesied the fall of the Communist Party that took place in the 1980s. Not only that, his final chapter alludes to the strained political relations the USSR established with the Allies, both during and after World War II. During Germany's invasion of the USSR in World War II, Stalin joined forces with the Allies, meaning Great Britain, France, and the United States, to combat the Nazi regime. Somewhat of a political friendship was established between the USSR and the Allies, as depicted in the final chapter; however, that relationship was unstable. It is Orwell's portrayal of the neighboring farmers dining with the pigs on the farm that depicts the Soviets joining the Allied forces. However, while the evening is at first filled with singing, toasts, and speeches, towards the end, a fight breaks out between Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington:

There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. (Ch. X)

This little ending remark most likely portrays the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States after World War II. We were supposed to be allies, but we both fought each other for power dominance, and the fight also contributed to the fall of Russian Communism, thereby making the final scene in the book prophetic as well.