Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

Animal Farm book cover
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Why does the author introduce the term "comrade" in the first chapter? What two purposes does the introduction of this term serve?

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In chapter one, the introduction of the word comrade serves the following two purposes:

First, it is Old Major's way of uniting all the animals into one family. The word comrade was commonly used by communists to denote brotherhood, equality, and a classless society. Old Major uses it to draw all the animals together under one umbrella, in a common cause where no one set of animals is better than another. They are united in the common cause of overthrowing the rule of humans over their farm. They are all for one and one for all.

Second, however, Old Major uses comrade to denote a sharp them-and-us division. You are either a comrade or an enemy. This comes clear as the animals have to decide whether rats are comrades. There is no middle ground in Old Major's wayof thinking: either you are in or you are out. Humans are the enemy, and there can be no compromise with enemies.

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Orwell wrote Animal Farm during World War II, although he was unable to get it published until after the war. Through his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell came to despise the communist party, which he saw as petty and corrupt. His novel is an allegory of the rise of communism in Russia after the fall of the Tsars.

The term "comrade" is laden with many connotations. When applied to everyone, even those in positions of great power, it is meant to imply equality. When Old Major uses the term in chapter 1, this is how he intends it because his character represents Karl Marx, the German philosopher and economist whose theories spurred the development of workers' parties around the world.

Later in the story, the hypocrisy of using the term "comrade" to refer to Napoleon and the other pigs is, of course, very clear. The reader can see the corruption of the system of Animalism in parallel with the ridiculous nature of the term "comrade" as the pigs destroy all semblance of equality on the farm.

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