Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

Animal Farm book cover
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I have to read Animal Farm by George Orwell and I don't really understand the book. Can someone give me a brief summary of the whole book please? I hear that the book is really about the Soviet Union and I am not sure about it because there are animals.

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You have to keep in mind that this story is an example of a type of literature called the “allegory.” An allegory is a type of story in which the characters, events, and ideas stand for something else. In the case of Animal Farm, the characters, events, and ideas stand for the Russian Revolution. For example, the character Napoleon represents the real-life person of Joseph Stalin. The concept of Animalism (the philosophy the animals adopt once they gain their freedom) stands for socialism/communism.

The writer, George Orwell, was a socialist (a type of government that is similar to communism). He believed that socialism was a good idea, but that Russia was doing a bad job of implementing it. He wrote the book to show how Russia was abusing its citizens and not carrying out the ideals of socialism/communism.

One of the central themes to the book is that oppressed people who throw off the oppressors eventually abuse their power and become oppressors themselves.

The story uses animals because Orwell wanted to establish emotional distance between the subject and the reader.
That way the reader can look at the events without getting too caught up in the tragic fate of the characters themselves. It has the feel of an instructive fairytale.

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veniesha | Student

In the book animal farm,the main aspect of the storyline is the animals' revenge against the humans.Humans treated them,according to the animals,slaughtered them with hideous cruelty.This shows the contrast between the animals' perspective and the humans' perspective.In the humans' perspective,killing animals for food and selling animals for income are seen as innocence in a normal everyday lifestyle.They kill chickens for food and for sale ,sell their eggs which were supposed to hatch into chicks,kill cows for beef and pigs for pork.In animals' perspective it is seen as cruelty and saw it as 'two legs bad,four legs good',that was one of their commandments after the rebellion so they sought revenge against humans which was the successful rebellion.A theme noticed in the book was 'Human lifestyle vs Animals' point of view.'

gooner123 | Student

The book revolves around the concept of Communism. The animals lead a revolt and then conquer Animal Farm. The pigs act as leaders and the idea of equality is promoted (A main characteristic of Communism). As the book goes on George Orwell shows the downside to Communism when Napoleon, with his bodyguards, the dogs chase Snowball out for him to claim jurisdiction over the animals. The book shows the corruption portrayed by Napoleon and how he uses his power to abuse the prospect of equality and working-class methods. I'll not spoil the ending for you so you can gather the pieces together for yourself.