WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell (Eric Blair)
Basic Plot: The animals of Manor Farm are tired of being abused by their farmer and decide to overthrow him, creating a new government of animals. Will the animals be able to run their new government or will the pressure be too much for them?
Plot: 5/5 Excellent: The story is an original tale that has the perfect combination of childlike simplicity and adult reality. The story itself is hard, harsh one that, with all of its silliness of independent, talking animals, will move the hardest mind to think and the hardest heart to feel. In a strange way, it is realistic despite its sometimes fantastic events, as it follows the hearts of human nature when it is too ignorant. Overall, it is a complete story with nothing lacking.
Writing Style and Setup: 5/5 Excellent: Outside of its simple story telling which greatly resembles a plainly told fairy tale, as the title suggests, the story is one of great parallels. The story beautifully portrays the events of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in its events, characters, and spirit.
The story is also well paced. It is a quick read than anyone could find time to enjoy and has enough detail to paint a clear picture of the events occurring.
Moral: 4½/5 Amazing: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story’s morals are both innumerable and core cutting. Rather than just a simple story that explains what to do, it is a story of why thinks happen. It tells the story of hopeful, yet painfully ignorant creatures that merely want to better themselves, but instead make their lives worse than ever before. The emphasis on knowing what happens around you is good, but as stated earlier, this is a story that explains the why not the what. It shows why a society of even the best hearted citizens, when holding a land in common, can fall to such disgustingly pitiful drops. It shows why the tyrant often wins in real life and how he accomplishes it. Though in no way trying to support tyranny, George Orwell shows why the “good guy” of life so often loses. He is too trusting, too ignorant, and too weak, though not because of his goodness. He is not aware of his own surroundings and does not stand up for what is right until it is far too late. The book shows consequences of being a weak good guy rather than a strong one. Sadly, the author was a strong proponent of socialism, and from the writing, could even show to have a small faith in pure Communism, as he shows almost all the animals to be unselfish, willing to share everything equally, and overall inwardly good. One could easily use this to show why socialism and Communism so horribly fail, but at the same time, a proponent of it could justify that it is not the system’s fault, merely the people running it. By the end of the novel, readers should know how a tyranny comes into being and what must be done to protect themselves as well as what the world of Communism looks like, as that is what the book is, a portrayal of the Communist society.
Overall: 4½/5 Amazing: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story has its beauties and its morals but at the same time its shortcomings. It is a short, sad book that will make the reader think, but it is merely a stepping stone to bigger and brighter thoughts.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 It is mentioned that knives were once used to castrate animals. A lie is spread that the animals share “their females in common.” The animals firmly believe that all animals should be naked. Some dogs almost pull a man’s pants down.
Characters pee on other’s work and in water.
Violence: 2½/5 Moderate: Violence: Humans and animals fight battles with their horns, hoofs, and teeth, as well as guns and sticks. They also bite, kick, and peck each other. Dogs kill several animals and attack a horse, who hurts one in self defense. Animals are mentioned to have been whipped. Animals become increasingly edgy and even violent as time goes on. A man once arbitrarily shoots at some loud animals. Characters hold whips.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3/5 Frequent Death and Sorrow: Animals kill people, and a horse worries he has murdered a man. Animals are killed by dogs after confessing to crimes. Animals die naturally, from starvation, and one from suicide. A horse falls over from overwork and lung problems. Some animals think a sick pig was poisoned and briefly think he will die; he doesn’t. Some sheep claim to have a chased a sick ram to death. A horse is sold to a slaughterer. Funerals are held for animals that died, including some ham found in a kitchen. Animals bleed, hurt their hoofs or get stones in them, and have “pellets” from guns stuck in them. Animals break property. A man is known to torture his animals with cruel deaths and forcing them to fight each other. Some humans blow up a windmill. A character threatens with the death sentence and says he will have a man “boiled alive” if they catch him. Characters cry from watching their friends die, fear, and happiness. Death is frequently talked about in general, such as that animals will all face cruel deaths by slaughter and forced drowning, that animals “will die soon,” and just in general, such as that donkey’s don’t die for a long time. Lies are spread that the animals eat and torture as well as practice infanticide. They are falsely accused of having “disease and famine.” Some men blow up a windmill. Animals sing about there not being any more whips. Animals say “death to humanity” and “death to” certain humans by name. “Deadly” and “murder” are used for descriptive purposes. Guns are set off for ceremonial reasons. Animals are at times forbidden to kill each other. Some dogs chase rats maliciously. With no wish to spoil the ending, George Orwell is known for writing books that have very depressing endings, often with the protagonists’ hopes and dreams permanently crushed.
Religious Issues: 1/5 Mention: A bird claims to have been to a place called Sugarcandy Mountain after they die. The other animals claim that this is not true. The animals have faith in a system called Animalism (which is based off of socialism and Communism). It is the belief that all animals are equal and that all should be treated the same. The characters later in the book start to regard a pig with a fanatic and worshipful amount of devotion, as one would expect a Communist citizen their leader in a country, as they sing praise to him and talk about how everything good comes from him. The latter is not at all portrayed positively by the author, merely mentioned as neutral events. A character remarks that even though God gave him a tale to keep of flies, he wish God had given him neither.
Magic: ½/5 The book is called a “fairy story” in the title. No magic is done in the book.
Others: Characters get drunk on beer and whiskey and smoke. A man gives his bird beer dipped bread. A man hangs out sometimes at a tavern, though what he does there outside of complain and drink is not said. Laws forbid alcohol but are changed to allow it if not done “in excess.” Characters are once mentioned to be playing cards. The author did support socialism, and his views can be partially seen in the book.
Overall: 2½/5 Almost Child Appropriate: The book does have some dark themes in it, and is far from ending positively. I would say that I would recommend it for children twelve and older, as long as they can handle sad stories.