Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A fable of ''communistic pigs"

I have heard of this novel, perhaps a couple of years ago, after knowing about the other George Orwell's classic "1984", through the hit show Big Brother. During that time, I would always try to find a way for the book 1984 to get into my hands. Books are luxury and it would be unwise to buy and just read it for one time. So I scouted the library, in the hopes of saving my pocket from unnecessary damage and adding one more bestsellers into my 'reading list'. However, I could not remember how or when did I give up my pursuance on 1984.

One day, I got to chance upon a second-hand, old copy of the book 'Animal Farm', another George Orwell. My father planned to sell it for only ten pesos. I could not allow that to happen. A classic story from a world-famous author, for only 10 pesos??? I sneakily hid it from my father's view, who usually judges his pricing based on the thickness and appearance of the book, not on how much it contributed to world literature.

At that moment, I know that I am holding one of the greatest satirical pieces of the last century, though I still did not know to whom it was referring to. Thus, I read it from cover to cover, including the preface and introduction.

When I started the novel itself, I found it very funny and somewhat so impossible. Animal farm tells the struggle of the barnyard animals to overthrow their farmer, Mr. Jones. The animals succeded and went on to run the whole Manor Farm. They were in euphoria and relished their freedom from the harsh treatment of the human beings. Firstly, they changed its name to Animal Farm, to emphasize that it is being run by animals and the animals themselves will benefit from their produce. To establish a better organization within the farm, they chose the pigs to be their leaders since they were the brightest among the barnyard animals in Animal Farm. In the end, the pigs became more powerful and the fundamental ideals of establishing the Animal Farm became more blurry, along with the freedom of the naive barnyard animals.

I can say that Animal Farm is very entertaining, both for adults and children alike. Though children may not be aware of the satirical-allegorical theme of the story, they might be delighted with the thought of talking animals and that they can communicate with human beings through words. Adults who are familiar with the story of the Soviet Union could identify that Orwell might be referring to Stalin's overthrowing of Leon Trotsky when he created the characters of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball. The depiction of Communism is done through the principle of 'Animalism', wherein their main ideal is that animals are all equal.

One remarkable part of the story is when the Animal Farm had a food shortage and their leader, Napoleon tried to hide it from the onlookers by filling the food bins with hays and topping it with 'real food'. I remember the documentary we watched in Econ 31 whehrein it mentioned the efforts of the Soviet Union to cover its poor situation.

Overall, in Animal Farm, Orwell attacked the weaknesses in us all. Some can identify with the donkey Benjamin who has been in the barnyard for a very long time. He could be imagined saying 'been there, done that'. However, he remained apathetic despite seeing the pigs' rise to power and the subsequent curtailment of their freedom.

'Animal Farm' is one of the best stories I've read so far. I recommend it to political science or social sciences students, likewise to history majors, who would like to see how people react during the Stalin era in Russia.

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