Explain the satire behind Snowball's committees in Animal Farm.
In Chapter Three of Animal Farm, Snowball sets up numerous committees in the wake of the revolution to overthrow Mr Jones. What immediately strikes the reader is the satirical nature of these committees, for two reasons.
First of all, the names of the committees are humorous in themselves. There is the "Whiter Wool Movement" for the sheep, the "Clean Tails League" for the cows and even a committee for the rats, called "Wild Comrades Re-education." The very idea that farm animals can be organised and tamed, to remove the characteristics which define them as animals, further adds to this sense of satire and humour.
Secondly, the abject failure of these committees is another source of satire. As Orwell comments: "They continued to behave very much as before, and when treated with generosity, simply took advantage of it." In the reader's mind, this description conjures humorous images of the "indefatigable" Snowball battling with hens and rats to make them cleaner and less animalistic. Similarly, the description of the cat talking to the birds and calling them her 'comrades' provides further humour because the reader knows that it is a ruse to lure the birds into a false sense of security.
It is interesting to note that the only committee which meets with any success is the class to teach reading and writing. Through Snowball's efforts, Animal Farm and its inhabitants become semi-literate, an effort which is to be commended. It does, however, foreshadow the inequalities which will later surface and become a source of conflict. As the most intelligent, the pigs will occupy the top of the farm's social structure, with the other animals situated firmly below.
In this respect, then, the committees may be satirical, but they hint at the inequalities which soon follow.
Some scholars claim Orwell was purely going after the Soviet regime in Animal Farm. Others, like myself, believe that while Orwell was alluding to the communists, he saw a bigger picture as well.
Snowball's committees and studies that showed that pigs needed milk and apples for their superior brains are examples of the pseudo-sciences that many governments and religious groups create to bolster their preposterous claims. Also the frequent assignment of committees themselves shows the way that many orgainzations deal with problems they do not want to deal with--send it to a committee for study.