I am still recovering from vacation, a bit of a cold, allergies, and car-shopping from last week. Next week will bring a flurry of posts from me on a variety of things, but today, I wanted to brag about my tenth-grade daughter.
For school, she had a required reading of Animal Farm. This was easy-peasy for my girl, not only because it’s a pretty short book, but because I read it to her when she was about 9 or 10, and she’s read it more than a dozen times since then. We discussed the issues brought up in her written test (short paragraph and essay answers), and I let her go. With the exception of perhaps one question, she had no additional input from me; that input I gave was “You didn’t actually answer the question there. Add some information that explains the first part of your answer,” which is exactly the kind of thing you want to tell a student who is turning in a major test. (In case you’re not familiar with homeschooling, this is something allowable when getting ready to turn in a test to the graders with Seton.)
Her answers were so good, I really wanted to share them – or at least some of them – here.
On a question regarding Old Major and why he’s important to the story:
Old Major, a character who represents Karl Marx, is important in the book Animal Farm because he first imagined and developed the idea of the Rebellion, and because he was a source of great inspiration for the animals. Without Old Major’s dream in the first chapter, the animals never would have thought of rebelling against Jones, or of running the farm themselves. He was also the influence for the pigs’ ideas for the farm, and they drew upon the idolization of Old Major by the animals to convince the animals that everything they did was in honor of Old Major and his Rebellion.
On whether the animals or humans won the struggle:
The humans win the struggle, despite the animals’ physical victory, because the pigs turn out to be just as bad, if not worse than, the humans. This shows that, even though the animals believed they were free since mans’ rule had been abolished, they were enslaved by the pigs. For example, when Napoleon began enforcing work on Sunday afternoons, the animals didn’t seem to remember being promised a work-free Sunday. Then, Napoleon started using the dogs as his Secret Police, brutally punishing any animal supposedly caught doing wrong, which strengthened the animals’ fear of disagreeing with any of their leader’s decisions. Finally, when all the pigs began carrying whips, the animals realized that they were no longer equal, but that the pigs had enslaved the rest of the animals.
I loved that she realized that the animals (in general) did not win the battle for Animal Farm. In the end, the only human who didn’t have the same basic relationship with the farm was Jones himself, who lost possession of it. All the surrounding farms eventually had normal relationships; the only thing that changed was ownership of the farm – the pigs were in charge, and they were just like Jones.