What is the significance of Benjamin's cryptic remarks from not sharing the self-congratulatory atmosphere in Chapter 3 of Orwell's Animal Farm?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Benjamin is a steady as a rock. Benjamin's remarks are significant in that he understands that it is not wise to believe in a perfect world. While the other animals are thinking that life is better without Mr. Jones, Benjamin is the same old donkey. He does not change. He is steadfast. He does not work harder or less. He is dependable no matter the circumstances.

Truly, wisdom comes with age. Things are not always what they seem. Benjamin has insight from all his years of experience. He does not get overly excited about the changes and rightly so. He does not take on more than his work load as Boxer does. Benjamin will not get let down when the changes occur. He will not be disappointed or confused because he does not allow his expectations to be more than what they should be. He does not expect things to be better. It is what it is. That is Benjamin's attitude.

Benjamin lives a long time because he does not over work himself. He paces himself and gets the job done. He realizes that he will not be appreciated any more or less for his work ethic. In many ways, he is probably more content because he does not raise his expectations to an unrealistic level.

In his cynicism Benjamin survives:

He is a sad cynic who believes that whatever the animals do, conditions on the farm will remain equally as bad.

Benjamin is right. Things on the farm never change for the better. He rarely gets disappointed. Only when his friend Boxer is taken away to be slaughtered does Benjamin seem upset. If only Boxer had adopted Benjamin's attitude, he would possibly still be alive.

According to old Benjamin, things never would change on the farm:

Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse--hunger, hardship and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.

Perhaps, Benjamin knows best. None of the other animals had ever seen a dead donkey.