What degrees of success do the different animals have in learning to read and write?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The different animals experience different variances of literacy.  Clover and Boxer have some basic grasp of some letters.  Boxer knows the first four of the alphabet.  Muriel is literate and Benjamin possesses literacy.  However, both of these animals are relegated to the periphery of discourse, and this becomes the critical element.  While the animals might possess some level of literacy, none of them are able to read and write like the pigs.  It is in this control of language that the pigs are able to consolidate power.  The pigs are able to use their ability to read and write to exercise power over the farm, but also use it to control the other animals.  Squealer "spins" this most persuasively.  He argues that there has to be a consolidation of the "brain trust" that is able to read and write and in the process, this makes the rest of the animals' life easier.  Squealer and the pigs essentially depict the ability to read and write as something of a struggle that they are "willing to endure" for the benefit of the animals' welfare.  In this, the rest of the animals are persuaded to not bother with grasping functional literacy for this is seen as the domain of the pigs.

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