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Animal Farm
George Orwell




_____ 1. In Animal Farm George Orwell makes the point that -
    A. to the victor belongs the spoils
    B. power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely
    C. Communism is the most evil form of government
_____ 2. Animal Farm illustrates -
    A. the deterioration into tyranny of a political system that began full of promise
    B. the wisdom of not forming alliances
    C. the basic animalistic nature of humanity
_____ 3. The novel is -
    A. devoid of humor
    B. a mixture of humor and seriousness
    C. best understood as a comedy in which animals assume human traits
_____ 4. The Battle of the Windmill represents -
    A. the Animals' attempt to mechanize the Farm
    B. the Russian Civil War
    C. Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II
_____ 5. Which are correctly paired? -
    A. Farmer Jones- the Czar of Russia
    B. Major- Stalin
    C. Napoleon- Hitler
_____ 6. In the final scene the pigs are -
    A. each other
    B. the humans
    C. the other animals
_____ 7. Napoleon made the mistake of -
    A. accepting counterfeit notes
    B. trusting Squealer
    C. siding with Frederick against Pilkington
_____ 8. The animals who confess their crimes are -
    A. pardoned
    B. jailed
    C. executed
_____ 9. Napoleon says he is abolishing the singing of "Beasts of England" because -
    A. the song had limited appeal to the newer generation
    B. the hope expressed in the song had already been realized
    C. it distracted the animals from their work
_____ 10. In the end, the sheep are bleating -
    A. "Four legs good, two legs bad"
    B. "Four legs good, two legs better"
    C. "Animals are equal to humans"

11. Why does Orwell use animals for characters? -

12. Compare Animal Farm and 1984. -

13. There is an animated cartoon film of Animal Farm with a happy ending: animals on other farms realize Napoleon has set up a dictatorship; they rise up and overthrow him. Is this ending a good idea? -

14. Is Animal Farm an attack on socialism? -

15. Discuss the significance of Animal Farm as an allegory. -


_____ 1. Squealer -
    A. acts as the middleman when Napoleon has to deal with humans
    B. offers explanations for every move taken by the leadership
    C. is the only individualist on the farm
_____ 2. Which is not true of Benjamin the donkey? -
    A. He offers no opinion on the Revolution
    B. He says life will go on as always- badly
    C. He has no friends on the farm
_____ 3. Before Snowball was expelled, Napoleon gave the highest priority to -
    A. the education of the young
    B. building a windmill
    C. following the Seven Commandments of Animalism
_____ 4. Boxer's slogan was -
    A. "The fruits of our labors belong to us!"
    B. "The Revolution will succeed!"
    C. "I will work harder!"
_____ 5. Boxer is ultimately -
    A. retired and rewarded for his faithful service
    B. blamed for the loss of the windmill
    C. sold to the knacker
_____ 6. Almost caught red-handed in the act of changing the Commandments is -
    A. Muriel the goat
    B. the cat
    C. Squealer
_____ 7. The scapegoat for the shortcomings of Napoleon's regime is -
    A. Snowball
    B. Boxer
    C. the neighboring humans
_____ 8. The raven, with his promise of Sugarcandy Mountain for the animals after they die, -
    A. is forever banished from Animal Farm
    B. sides first with Snowball, then with Napoleon
    C. is banished but is allowed to return and given daily rations though he does no work
_____ 9. The Seven Commandments are later reduced to one: -
    A. All animals are equal
    B. Four legs good, two legs bad
    C. Contact with humans corrupts
_____ 10. Mollie, the white mare, -
    A. saves Boxer in the Battle of the Cowshed
    B. has a weakness for ribbons and sugar
    C. learned the alphabet more easily than the other horses

11. Judging from Animal Farm, what does Orwell's own political philosophy seem to be? -

12. The "Commandment" All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others has become famous. Why? What significance does this "Commandment" have in the context of the story? -

13. Discuss the image of the Leader in Animal Farm. -

14. Discuss the satiric techniques used in Animal Farm. -

15. Does Animal Farm have a hero? -


  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. A
  6. B
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. B

11. Orwell's main concerns in this book are political (how people act together, how societies function) and satiric (to attack-with-a-smile). For both of these purposes, types rather than complex characters are most useful; individual psychology would just get in Orwell's way. Then, too, he wanted a story with humor and charm that he could tell simply, a story that could be widely translated; the animal fable is perfect for these reasons. You'll want to give some specific examples of Orwell's humorous and satiric use of combinations of human-and-animal traits. -

12. The last two books Orwell wrote have much in common. Their main concerns are political and their themes are similar. 1984 can be seen as the sequel to Animal Farm: Animal Farm concerns the rise of a totalitarian dictatorship; in 1984, totalitarianism has utterly triumphed. "Newspeak" in 1984 is a logical development from the corruption of language we've noted in Animal Farm. The rewriting of history has developed tremendously in 1984; that's Winston Smith's job! Cruelty is enormously developed in 1984, as is, obviously, repression. As for inequality, the proles in 1984 bear a curious and disturbing resemblance to the animals in Animal Farm.

The basic and obvious difference is that 1984 is a novel with human characters. The humor and charm of the beast fable was the last thing Orwell wanted in 1984. Still, Orwell's final novel can make us more aware of the grim warning implicit in Animal Farm. -

13. Definitely not! It misses the political point of Animal Farm: at the end of the book the old slaves are slaves again, despite their Rebellion, and will remain so indefinitely. That was the message Orwell intended to convey; he certainly didn't believe there was an easy answer to the problem. Animal Farm is a work of despair and very little hope.

A happy ending to Animal Farm would also make an artistic mess of the whole story: Animal Farm progresses logically, inexorably, toward the last scene (almost like tragedy), so much so that, like Clover, we have a hard time saying how we got there. To add an extra episode to Orwell's ending is to destroy his beautifully structured whole. -

14. This is debatable. It certainly is an attack on Soviet Communism: Napoleon equals Stalin, the pigs equal Communist bureaucrats, etc. Inequality and oppression are brought about through the use of propaganda (Squealer) and terror (the dogs). Then, too, a basic belief of Major (Marx) is ferociously disproved in the book: just get rid of Man (capitalists), he told the animals, and everything will be great. They do and they end up as badly off as they were before revolting.

But Orwell himself said that everything he wrote after 1937 was "against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism," so clearly he would want to make a distinction. If it seems to you that Major's speech is presented as a worthwhile ideal, if the animals' happiness in the early days of the Revolution is not presented ironically as an illusion (Chapter II), then you will see evidence of Orwell's positive attitude toward socialism in Animal Farm. Remember, though, that some readers have seen those episodes as satires of socialist ideals. The most convincing argument that the book is not an attack on socialism is what happens to the pigs: they turn into men- in other words, they become the capitalist enemy they originally set out to overthrow. In Orwell's view that appears to have been the worst thing that could have happened to them. And take a good look at Pilkington, who represents the capitalist democracies of Britain and France: does Orwell make him a particularly attractive character? Remember, too, that whatever your views about socialism may be, the question asks you about Orwell's. You might come to the conclusion that the fable satirizes both capitalism and socialism. That would make it a negative work indeed. Or you might want to return to Orwell's distinction between "socialism" and Soviet dictatorship. -

15. This is a difficult question that you need to break down into sections. Try distinguishing different types of allegory such as 1. political allegory, in which the dogs represent the Secret Police, and 2. historical allegory, in which the Battle of the Cowshed parallels the Civil War. To be an allegory, of course, an episode does not have to refer to a specific historical event. The death of Boxer, for instance, has political significance, but is not a statement about the death of any particular individual.


  1. B
  2. C
  3. A
  4. C
  5. C
  6. C
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. B

11. You may conclude that Orwell's philosophy in this book is purely negative: we know he detests Soviet Communism, and he doesn't seem to have any great affection for capitalism, either. Most of his sympathy is for the common people (the animals), which would put him in the camp of the Left (and of course this view is supported by the rest of his work). On the other hand, seeing the working class as "animals" doesn't exactly lead you to socialism.

Perhaps you can explain that Orwell does promote a set of definite political values, even if he doesn't outline a coherent political philosophy. These values include:

  1. love of honesty (hatred of lying)
  2. respect for common decency (Clover, Boxer)
  3. love of freedom (hatred of repression and dictators)
  4. desire for equality (hatred of inequality and oppression).

The last point is the most problematic: what if there is a natural hierarchy, what if some people really are more equal than others? This question is implied in Animal Farm in a way that perhaps Orwell himself did not see. But then, he was a man who struggled all his life with his own feelings about the social class system.

Finally, we may see in Animal Farm a lament for revolution rather than an attack on it. If only, Orwell seems to be saying, if only revolutionaries could be true to their own ideals! -

12. This formula is a paradox, of course: nothing can be "more equal" than anything (or anybody) else. Thus it neatly expresses the hypocrisy of those who preach equality and neither practice it nor really believe in it. Apparently there are many people like that, for the expression has become proverbial.

In the context of Animal Farm, the "Commandment" is

  1. the final, ironic redefinition of an important word.
  2. the final Commandment to be rewritten, and thus the ultimate example of the pigs' control over language, "history," and "truth."
  3. a double reverse twist. The expression tells the truth: the pigs are "more equal," that is, superior in status to all the other animals.

13. The only leader who is not treated with ferocious satire is Major, and he is a. an intellectual leader only, and b. quickly dead and out of the way. The arch-leader is Napoleon, and he doesn't lead, he takes all power unto himself. Once in battle he actually "leads" from behind (Chapter VIII), although he is no coward. He drinks, is flattered outrageously, and appears "in triumph" like a king or god. All of this is seen from the outside, as actions or functions in the mechanism of dictatorship: we don't know what Napoleon himself thinks or feels, and Orwell clearly doesn't care. -

14. You'll want to break your answer down into categories. Here are some examples:

  1. CARICATURES: Mr. Jones (negligence and stupidity), Squealer (hypocrisy)
      Major's speech (in Chapter I)
      Napoleon's speeches
      Minimus' poem and anthem
  3. IRONY: The basic ironic technique of Animal Farm is that of feigned ignorance (see, for example, the pigs' drinking party). But this technique has a wide range of effects, from farce (the drinking party) to the deep, basic contradiction between the animals' beliefs- presented with no comment by the narrator- and the realities the reader is able to see or deduce.

Finally, the satire in Animal Farm is not always meant to be funny. Pick some satiric episodes that do seem funny to you and some that don't. The ones that aren't funny will probably concern the basic target of satire in Animal Farm: a system that maintains inequality and oppression in the name of freedom and equality. -

15. Some readers have seen Boxer as the hero: he saves the Farm again and again, in war and in work; in fact, he gives his life for the Farm- a kind of tragic hero, he has the flaw of blind faith. He is "too good"; his decency (or is it his stupidity?) blinds him to the real motives of those whom he serves with his great strength.

On the other hand, you might argue that Boxer simply isn't around that much in the fable. Because we never know Boxer's thoughts- except for his two repeated maxims- and because he is not at all the driving force behind any of the action, it's rather hard to see him as the hero of the book. You might want to argue that Animal Farm has a collective hero: the animals. Or that, after all, why look for a hero at all? Orwell is concerned with politics in this book, not with individuals.

[Animal Farm Contents]


  1. Write an allegorical animal fable of your own, using political events in the United States over the past few years for your "other story." -
  2. Compare Animal Farm with any other fable you know. -
  3. Discuss Benjamin's character and philosophy in the context of the story. -
  4. Discuss the friendship of Boxer and Benjamin. -
  5. How does each one of the animals, through action or neglect, contribute to the pigs' takeover? -
  6. Analyze the significance of the last scene in Animal Farm. -
  7. One critic said Major's speech was "obviously ridiculous." Do you agree? -
  8. Discuss the treatment of war in Animal Farm. -
  9. Orwell thought the idea of substituting another animal for the pigs was idiotic. Why? -
  10. Discuss the role of the human beings in Animal Farm. -
  11. Discuss the role of the sheep in the story. -
  12. In what senses is the society depicted in Animal Farm "totalitarian," by the end of the book? -
  13. Are there any differences, for the animals, between life at the end of the book and life under Jones? -
  14. Find the places in the story where Orwell mentions food. What is the function of food in the story? -
  15. Discuss the role of reading in Animal Farm: who reads, how well, how much, why, and when. -
  16. Why do you think Orwell subtitled his book "A Fairy Story"? -
  17. Animal Farm has sold well over I million copies in English, and has been translated into 14 languages. Why do you think it is so popular? -
  18. Why does the windmill keep reappearing in the story? -
  19. Why does the Rebellion break out? -
  20. Suppose you wanted to write a one-sentence moral for Animal Farm and put it in italics at the end of the story. What would that moral be, and why? -
  21. A critic who didn't like Animal Farm has said that the real source of the work is The Tale of Pigling Bland and other children's stories by Beatrix Potter; others have spoken of Swift's Gulliver's Travels as Orwell's inspiration. If you know either work- or better still, both- comment on these claims. -
  22. Discuss the use of slogans, maxims, and commandments in Animal Farm. -
  23. Discuss the concept of happiness, as it is presented in Animal Farm. -
  24. One critic has said that Orwell was happy while he was writing Animal Farm, partly because he was writing about animals, which he loved. Are there signs of this in the book? -
  25. Discuss the names Orwell chose for his characters. -
  26. Mr. Jones equals Czar Nicholas II. Do some research on this czar and discuss how closely you think Orwell used him as a model. -
  27. Describe the scene of Major's speech in purely human terms: what human types does Orwell describe during the speech? Do they represent a fair sampling of any given society? Why does the book begin with this audience. -
  28. What are the signs of inequality and oppression in the last two chapters? In the first chapter? What conclusion can you draw? -
  29. Make a list of lies that the pigs tell in the course of the book. Try to be representative rather than complete: what kinds of lies are told? Why?

THE STORY, continued

ECC [Animal Farm Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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