How is point-of-view important in Animal Farm?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point-of-view in Animal Farm is third-person omniscient, where an unseen narrator, who is not a character, describes the action and knows most of the inner thoughts of the characters. This allows a more objective view of the story, without subjective opinions given by the narrator, and also allows more coverage of all the action without juggling multiple perspectives. One interesting thing is that Napoleon's POV is almost never used; the narrator will describe the inner feelings of many animals, but Napoleon almost always acts without the narration having prior knowledge of his motives:

Only Napoleon held aloof. He had declared himself against the windmill from the start. One day, however, he arrived unexpectedly to examine the plans. He walked heavily round the shed...
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)

With this technique, Napoleon is seen as more self-absorbed than the other animals, only concerned with growing his own influence and power. Instead of being open and honest, he is secretive, and this is reflected in the narration. The only way the other animals know of his dishonesty is through experience; the reader can infer it from past knowledge, but usually cannot see Napoleon's next move until it has begun.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view is significant because the story is told from a third person perspective, by an omnipresent narrator who exists separately from the other characters. As a result, this creates a sense of detachment because the narrator is not directly involved in the action, he is merely offering a report of the events as they happen.

Despite using a third person, omnipresent narrator, the point of view of Animal Farm is not necessarily unbiased. In chapter five, for example, when describing Napoleon's guard dogs, the narrator notes:

It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones.

By including such a statement in the description, the narrator draws a clear comparison between Napoleon and Mr. Jones. This not only shows some bias in the narrator's style it also suggests that the animals are no better off under the pigs than they were under Mr. Jones.

Thus, it is important to note that the point of view of Animal Farm is not completely detached, nor is it completely free of bias. Over the course of the story, this helps to elicit sympathy in the reader for the plight of the animals.