Animal Farm, a Book to Make You Think | Teen Ink

Animal Farm, a Book to Make You Think

January 11, 2019
By Anonymous

Surprisingly enough, one of the best books that I have read in the last year was a story about critical thinking that we read in English class, Animal Farm by George Orwell. After successfully usurping their oppressive farmer, several farm animals attempt to create a new society under the name, Animal Farm. Inspired by the Russian revolution, George Orwell’s Animal Farm comments on many political themes -- however, if politics bore you don’t sly away quite yet. I would recommend the book Animal Farm to any audience as Orwell makes a very simply written, engaging read with thorough character development used to deliver intense themes in such a way that anyone can understand them.

I like that the book has a compelling writing style which allows for a broader audience to understand the messages other than just the intellectuals. Orwell was known to support the common man and disapprove of intellectuals because he thought that they did not write in such a way that anyone, educated or not, could understand. In order to change this convention, he wrote the book in a very manageable but still rather thoughtful way. An example of how Orwell employed such writing is the use of passive voice in order to show obedience of animals in the farm. One good line describes the animal’s opinions of the dogs: “It was noticed that they wagged their tails at him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do with [the farmer]” (page 40) What this writing choice does is subtly give the reader a chance to think critically about the book as each new scene unfolds. Most often, the reader will realize that the animals are being too submissive. This creates a story wide dramatic irony as the reader thinks about how the animals could have acted differently to better their future. As the plot unfolded, I could not help but wonder how the animals could be so ignorant of their unfortunate situation. Each time a terrible event happened I could only ask myself, “How could the creatures possibly not see that coming!” And it is in this forced questioning that I soon realized that perhaps our society is not too different from the hypothetical Animal Farm. The book’s commentary of this fact, coupled with critical thought makes this book stand out from many others, not only because it inspires and in some cases, compels, the reader to think, but also because it involves the reader in the characters and plot, making a very enjoyable read.

Another strong positive for the book is its rich character development which creates identifiable and relatable personalities expected the delivery of the author's message and further involves the reader. One character, Boxer, a strong cart horse, is used as a role model for hard work. He is so dedicated that his slogan becomes I will work harder. Boxer is used to represent those in societies who blindly conform. I think everyone has, at one point or another, met a Boxer. Another character, Clover, a horse, has the ability to read and very much cares for the other animals in a mother-like fashion. Unfortunately, she does not have the raw intelligence or motivation to think critically and question the pig’s actions. Her mental weakness becomes evident when she checks laws written by the animals and thinks they may have changed: “Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so.” She is sadly unable to have either the will or mental capacity to question the obvious changes. I certainly know that I have had moments where I know something is wrong but do not question it because I feel that I am not correct in my assumption. Characters like these help to convey themes that would otherwise be much harder to understand. The example I provided shows the reader that acceptance without questioning only can only give governments the ability to bolster their powers. This is a rather heavy theme to unpack because of its reliance on critical thought. It can be argued that the book’s brutally honest themes, like this one, can sometimes be confusing for a casual reader, defeating the purpose of Orwell’s simple style. Still, however, these themes encourage critical thinking, which I think is a good thing, as it is ultimately the purpose of Orwell’s writing. He wants the reader to gain knowledge without the story directly telling them because it allows for a more personal, and less biased interpretation of his message (especially if the reader is able to think thoroughly about it). Orwell stated in an essay “Why I Write” that “I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” This statement is saying that Orwell writes in order to give uneducated people the ability to critically think about unconventional or controversial ideas. I think through the expert character growth, Orwell achieves his goal and tells a great story in the process.

Animal Farm is a great book for anyone. Even if you do not enjoy analyzing the author's message as you read (and trust me, I don’t either), Animal Farm provides a perfect foundation to build your thoughts on. For me, it truly stimulated my awareness of the idea that all societies are flawed. The book got me thinking, “Where do I fit in my society? Am I one of those animals who lack critical thinking? Am I questioning my world enough?” Truly the biggest marvel of Orwell’s writing is how he inspires free thought while still entertaining the reader. In today’s day and age, free thought is talked about more than ever, and I think this is the biggest reason anyone should read the book.


The author's comments:

I wrote this piece in English class. Thought it was pretty good so, yeah...

Also, everything in here is my honest opinion and I truly believe that Animal Farm is an amazing book.


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