About the Author
George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903 in India, the son of a British colonial civil servant. He was raised and educated in England as an adult joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, then a British colony. He resigned in 1927 and decided to become a writer. He was not initially successful as a writer, leading him to work in a series of menial jobs.
Orwell was politically active, becoming an anarchist in the late 1920s, and by the 1930s he had begun to consider himself a socialist. In 1936, Orwell travelled to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War, joining the Spanish Republicans against Franco's Nationalists. Orwell was shot in the throat and arm during the conflict; for several weeks, he was unable to speak. Orwell and his wife, Eileen, were charged with treason in Spain, forcing them to flee in fear of their lives from Soviet-backed communists who were suppressing Spanish revolutionary socialist dissenters. The experience turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist.
Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC from 1941-1943. This experience gave him a deep distaste for his job and the BBC. In 1943, he quit the BBC to became literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly magazine.
In 1945, Orwell published Animal Farm, a political allegory set on a farm but based on Joseph Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution. Orwell became famous from the book and became financially comfortable for the first time in his life. Nineteen Eighty-Four was published four years later. Orwell died from tuberculosis one year later.
Animal Farm is an allegorical novel about a group of farm animals who rebel against their human master to form their own egalitarian society. The result of their actions differs from their intentions, however. Animal Farm contains many messages on idealism, conformity, class, power, and control.
Questions for reading:
Toward the beginning of the book, Old Major tells of his vision of a society free from human control. What actually happens once the humans have left Manor Farm?
Why do you think George Orwell chose a farm as the setting for the book and animals for the main characters?
How do the pigs achieve power so quickly and achieve control over the other animals? How do they maintain their higher place?
Which of the characters did you feel to be noble or worthy of admiration? Why?
The animals begin with rules that apply to all equally. How does this change?
How is Animal Farm like 1984? In what ways do they differ?
Animal Farm is a cautionary tale about misuse of power and blind conformity. Has the novel changed your thoughts about government or power in any way?
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