How does this quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm show the major concerns of the text as a whole? From chapter 8: At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were...

How does this quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm show the major concerns of the text as a whole?

From chapter 8: At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. The dogs immediately made a ring round Squealer, and escorted him back to the farmhouse as soon as he was able to walk. None of the animals could
form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is an allegory about Russian politics and human nature. The quote you mention from chapter eight of the novella highlights four of the primary issues of the novel.

About this time there occurred a strange incident which hardly anyone was able to understand. One night at about twelve o'clock there was a loud crash in the yard, and the animals rushed out of their stalls. It was a moonlit night. At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. The dogs immediately made a ring round Squealer, and escorted him back to the farmhouse as soon as he was able to walk. None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.

First is the issue of the Seven Commandments. They are slowly changing, and as they do the animals' lives (except for the pigs', of course) are changing too--for the worse. This deterioration is clear in the next paragraph:

But a few days later Muriel, reading over the Seven Commandments to herself, noticed that there was yet another of them which the animals had remembered wrong. They had thought the Fifth Commandment was ‘No animal shall drink alcohol,’ but there were two words that they had forgotten. Actually the Commandment read: ‘No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.’

Squealer (and the other pigs) had been celebrating a little too much, so Snowball was unsteady as he rewrote yet another commandment.

Second is the fact that the pigs are constantly becoming more like man, adopting his vices and living as he does. Squealer's drunkenness is symbolic of all of the pigs and their behavior. Of course, at the end of the novel, the pigs become men.

Third is the presence of the dogs. When Squealer went out to the the barn, all the animals were asleep, He could have changed anything and no one would have known it; only when he started crashing around did the animals appear in a kind of sleepy confusion. So why were the dogs with him? They were there to protect Snowball from the other animals. This is a simple reminder that there is a constant enforcement presence on the farm. The dogs are symbolic of an undercurrent of threat and violence for the animals on the farm.

Finally, the animals do not even notice the change for a few days. Your quote shows Benjamin understanding everything on the night it happens; he knows (thus his nodding head) but he does not speak. Muriel notices the changed commandment later but is not sure about what she is seeing, and the other animals do not even know how to read. It is no wonder Napoleon and the pigs rule them.

These four things are all indicative of the major issues in the story which allow the pigs to rule the farm with impunity. 

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