What is the significance of Sugarcandy Mountain in Animal Farm?

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George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an allegorical tale inspired by the rise of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the subjugation of the public through manipulation, deceit, and murder. Each of the main characters in Animal Farm represents a figure or concept from that period in Russian history. Arguably the most complicated figure in Orwell’s story is Moses, a raven who espouses fantastical prophesies intended to reflect theological precepts of that deeply Christian country. The socialist/communist revolutionaries who replaced the czarist regimes that had dominated Russia for centuries were deeply anti-religion, in line with the ideological godfather of their movement, Karl Marx. For these figures, mainly Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and others (i.e., the very figures upon which Orwell’s animals were modeled), religion was not only a false ideology, but one that could pose a serious threat to the communist system they set about to impose. Religion, the Bolshevik leaders understood, had to be repressed or, when possible, manipulated to their advantage.

Such is the case with Moses. The raven is initially viewed skeptically and with considerable animosity by the new rulers of the farm, the pigs. As the latter attempt to indoctrinate the other animals with their theology of a socialist utopia, Moses continues to propagate visions of a hereafter antithetical to the communist ideal. As Orwell’s omniscient narrator notes early in Animal Farm:

“The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died.”

Just as the Bible promised eternal life in a utopian heaven, so does Moses (the name chosen, obviously, for its Biblical connotations) promise a vision of immortality, in this case, Sugarcandy Mountain:

“[Moses] claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work, but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place.”

The significance of Sugarcandy Mountain, then, is its representation of the eternal utopia prophesied in the Bible. Unable to completely eradicate the last vestiges of Christianity, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union sometimes had to console itself with its ability to undermine the Russian Orthodox Church through subversion and co-option of its leading practitioners. That is the role to which the pigs hope to put Moses when the raven reappears after a period of absence.

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Sugarcandy Mountain is what the animals call heaven in Animal Farm. The raven Moses tells the other animals stories about it. It floats up in the sky, and is where animals go when they die. It is a paradise: "In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges," Moses explains. He flees with Mrs. Jones when the animals take over the farm.

The pigs at first work hard to convince the animals that Sugarcandy Mountain isn't real. But a few years later, Moses reappears and now the animals, hungry and overworked, are more willing than ever to hear his talk of Sugarcandy Mountain. 

Oddly enough, the pigs don't chase Moses away. They scoff at his words but also give him a beer allowance every day.

Moses is clearly supposed to be a Christian priest, telling, from a communist point of view, false stories about heaven so that the animals will bear their miserable lot in the hope of an afterlife. It is significant that the pigs encourage Moses to stay: it shows how the farm is becoming more corrupt and the pigs more like their former human masters.

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