What is the significance of the gun in George Orwell's Animal Farm? 

What is the significance of the gun in George Orwell's Animal Farm?


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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The significance of the gun changes throughout Animal Farm. In the first chapter of the novel, for example, the gun is a symbol of human oppression and the subjugation of the animals. We see this when Mr. Jones uses the gun to break up Old Major's meeting. Similarly, when Mr. Jones tries to retake his farm after the Rebellion, the gun symbolizes this idea of human authority, especially when it is used to murder a sheep.

After this battle, the gun's significance changes. It becomes an object used by the animals in a celebratory and proud manner. It is decided, for instance, that the gun will be displayed next to the head of Old Major and will be fired twice every year as a reminder of the animals' victory. It is also fired in Chapter Eight to celebrate the expulsion of Frederick and his men from the farm.

By Chapter Ten, the gun's significance has been turned on its head: it is now a symbol of the animals' subjugation of the humans. It also serves as a potent reminder of the struggles they have overcome:

And when they heard the gun booming and saw the green flag fluttering at the masthead, their hearts swelled with imperishable pride.