Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

Animal Farm

George Orwell
Main Ideas

Allusions

Main Ideas Allusions

Chapter I

Historical/Political

[“]Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word—Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.[”]

This is an allusion to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, which was a pamphlet published in 1848 that calls upon the workers of the world to unite to overthrow the capitalists and seize the means of production.

Historical/Political

[“]Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free.[”]

The character of Old Major, who is the speaker, is an allusion to both Karl Marx (1818–1883), the German political economist and philosopher who believed the history of the world was class struggle, and Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924), who was a leader of the Russian Revolution and a proponent of the economic system of socialism.

Historical/Political

[“]What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion![”]

The Rebellion is an allusion to the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the Russian people overthrew the royal ruling family.

Historical/Literary

Bright will shine the fields of England, Purer shall its waters be, Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes On the day that sets us free.

The song “Beasts of England,” from which this stanza comes, is an allusion to both “The Internationale,” a socialist anthem written in the late 1800s, and “Men of England,” a poem written in the 1800s by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the exploitation of workers.

Chapter II

Historical/Political

The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.

The character of Squealer is an allusion to Vyacheslav Molotov (1890–1986), a government leader and a protégé of Joseph Stalin (1878–1953). Squealer may also be an allusion to Pravda, the Soviet newspaper that Stalin used to disseminate propaganda.

Historical

“And shall I still be allowed to wear ribbons in my mane?” asked Mollie. “Comrade,” said Snowball, “those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?”

The character of Mollie is an allusion to the bourgeoisie, or upper-middle class in Russia at the time of the Revolution.

Religious

The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones’s especial pet, was a spy and a talebearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died.

The character of Moses is an allusion to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Historical

In past years Mr. Jones, although a hard master, had been a capable farmer, but of late he had fallen on evil days. He had become much disheartened after losing money in a lawsuit, and had taken to drinking more than was good for him. . . . His men were idle and dishonest, the fields were full of weeds, the buildings wanted roofing, the hedges were neglected, and the animals were underfed.

The character of Mr. Jones is an allusion to Czar Nicolas II (1868–1918), the royal ruler of Russia who oversaw famines and shortages of supplies and who was overthrown by the forces of the Russian Revolution. Mr. Jones could also be an allusion to capitalists in general.

Chapter III

Historical

Boxer with his tremendous muscles always pulled them through. . . . From morning to night he was pushing and pulling, always at the spot where the work was hardest. He . . . would put in some volunteer labour at whatever seemed to be most needed, before the regular day’s work began. His answer to every problem, every setback, was “I will work harder!”—which he had adopted as his personal motto.

The character of Boxer is an allusion to the Russian proletariat, or the working class.

Historical/Political

The flag was green, Snowball explained, to represent the green fields of England, while the hoof and horn signified the future Republic of the Animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown.

This an allusion to the hammer and sickle flag adopted by the Communists after the Russian Revolution, which became the flag of the Soviet Union.

Chapter IV

Historical/Political

Every day Snowball and Napoleon sent out flights of pigeons whose instructions were to mingle with the animals on neighbouring farms, tell them the story of the Rebellion, and teach them the tune of Beasts of England.

This is an allusion to the practice of the Communist International (known as the Comintern) to attempt to export communism after the Russian Revolution.

Historical/Political

[T]he owners of the two farms which adjoined Animal Farm were on permanently bad terms. One of them . . . Foxwood, was a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm . . . [i]ts owner, Mr. Pilkington, was an easy-going gentleman farmer . . . The other farm . . . Pinchfield, was smaller and better kept. Its owner was a Mr. Frederick, a tough, shrewd man . . . These two disliked each other so much that it was difficult for them to come to any agreement[.]

Foxwood is an allusion to England, and the character of Mr. Pilkington is an allusion to Winston Churchill (1874–1965), the prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Foxwood and Mr. Pilkington also represent the western Allies, including the United States, in World War II. Pinchfield is an allusion to Germany, and the character of Mr. Frederick is an allusion to Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), the leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.

Historical

Jones and all his men, with half a dozen others from Foxwood and Pinchfield, had entered the five-barred gate and were coming up the cart-track that led to the farm. They were all carrying sticks, except Jones, who was marching ahead with a gun in his hands. Obviously they were going to attempt the recapture of the farm.

This attack, which the animals called the Battle of the Cowshed, is an allusion to the Russian Civil War (1917–1922), when forces supporting the monarchy, backed by several western capitalist nations, attempted to recapture Russia and remove the revolutionaries, who were then led by Vladimir Lenin, from power.

Chapter V

Historical

At the Meetings Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times. He was especially successful with the sheep. Of late the sheep had taken to bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad” both in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this.

The characters of the sheep, who are easily led and not terribly bright, are an allusion to the Russian citizens who too readily believed the propaganda spread by Joseph Stalin and his supporters.

Historical

After surveying the ground, Snowball declared that this was just the place for a windmill, which could be made to operate a dynamo and supply the farm with electrical power. This would light the stalls and warm them in winter . . . [The animals] listened in astonishment while Snowball conjured up pictures of fantastic machines which would do their work for them while they grazed at their ease in the fields or improved their minds with reading and conversation.

The windmill is an allusion to the Five-Year Plans, which Stalin first launched in 1928. The Five-Year Plans improved the Soviet Union’s economy through industrialization, but peasants on the farm saw little benefit and even experienced famines.

Historical

In glowing sentences [Snowball] painted a picture of Animal Farm as it might be when sordid labour was lifted from the animals’ backs . . . Electricity, he said, could operate threshing machines, ploughs, harrows, rollers, and reapers and binders, besides supplying every stall with its own electric light, hot and cold water, and an electric heater. By the time he had finished speaking, there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go.

The character of Snowball is an allusion to Leon Trotsky (1879–1940), who emerged as a leader of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War as well as Joseph Stalin’s rival for power in the new government that formed afterward.

Historical/Political

Napoleon . . . uttered a high-pitched whimper . . . and nine enormous dogs . . . dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. In a moment he was out of the door and they were after him . . . One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball’s tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more.

This is an allusion to Joseph Stalin’s expulsion of Leon Trotsky from the Soviet Union in 1929, following power struggles between the political rivals. Trotsky fled to Mexico, where he was later assassinated by an agent of Stalin.

Historical/Political

In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon.

The dogs are an allusion to the Soviet secret police (NKVD), which played a key role in suppressing and even executing Joseph Stalin’s political opponents.

Historical/Political

[Napoleon] announced that from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in private and afterwards communicate their decisions to the others.

The character of Napoleon is an allusion to Joseph Stalin, who assumed leadership of the Soviet Union in 1924 and became a powerful dictator who ruled until 1953. The name is also an allusion to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), a military officer who rose to power during the French Revolution and then named himself emperor of France in 1804 and oversaw a new constitution that made him a dictator for life.

Historical

The skull of old Major, now clean of flesh, had been disinterred from the orchard and set up on a stump at the foot of the flagstaff, beside the gun. After the hoisting of the flag, the animals were required to file past the skull in a reverent manner before entering the barn.

This is an allusion to the public display of Vladimir Lenin’s body, following his death in 1924, in Moscow’s Red Square.

Historical

Napoleon, with Squealer and another pig named Minimus, who had a remarkable gift for composing songs and poems, sat on the front of the raised platform, with the nine young dogs forming a semicircle round them, and the other pigs sitting behind.

The character of Minimus is an allusion to the Russian writer Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), whose work was used to promote the Soviet agenda.

Chapter VI

Historical

[Boxer’s] two slogans, “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right,” seemed to him a sufficient answer to all problems.

The slogan “I will work harder” is an allusion to the same phrase uttered by laborer Jurgis Rudkus in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), a novel that highlights capitalism’s exploitation of workers. The slogan “Napoleon is always right” is an allusion to the slogan “Mussolini is always right” (“Il Duce ha sempre ragione”), which was propaganda that promoted cult-like obedience to Italian leader Benito Mussolini (1883–1945), who ruled from 1922 through 1945 as a fascist dictator.

Chapter VII

Historical/Political

The four pigs waited, trembling, with guilt written on every line of their countenances. Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as had protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. . . . [T]hey confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in destroying the windmill, and that they had entered into an agreement with him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick.

This is an allusion to the Moscow trials, public trials held between 1936 and 1938 that were part of the Great Purge when Joseph Stalin’s opponents were forced to confess, often falsely, to crimes against the state.

Historical/Political

When [the four pigs] had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess. . . . And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon's feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood[.]

This is an allusion to the Great Purge, which took place from 1936 to 1938, when the Soviet government ordered hundreds of thousands of Joseph Stalin’s political opponents executed or sent to labor camps, often after being forced to falsely confess to crimes against the state.

Historical/Political

So Beasts of England was heard no more. In its place Minimus, the poet, had composed another song which began: Animal Farm, Animal Farm, Never through me shalt thou come to harm! and this was sung every Sunday morning after the hoisting of the flag. But somehow neither the words nor the tune ever seemed to the animals to come up to Beasts of England.

This is an allusion to Joseph Stalin’s replacement of the Soviet national anthem, “The Internationale,” which glorified socialism, with the “The Hymn of the Soviet Union,” which emphasized loyalty to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union.

Chapter VIII

Historical/Political

They were struck dumb with surprise when Napoleon announced that he had sold the pile of timber to Frederick. Tomorrow Frederick’s wagons would arrive and begin carting it away. Throughout the whole period of his seeming friendship with Pilkington, Napoleon had really been in secret agreement with Frederick.

This is an allusion to the secret non-aggression pact (1939) between the Soviet Union and Germany; both countries promised not to attack one another and also divvied up the nations between them so each could gain more land and influence.

Historical

It was a savage, bitter battle. The men fired again and again, and, when the animals got to close quarters, lashed out with their sticks and their heavy boots. A cow, three sheep, and two geese were killed, and nearly everyone was wounded. . . . But the men did not go unscathed either. . . . They saw that they were in danger of being surrounded . . . and the next moment the cowardly enemy was running for dear life.

The Battle of the Windmill is an allusion to World War II and possibly the Battle of Stalingrad (1942–1943), from which the Soviets emerged victorious over the Germans and maintained control of the city of Stalingrad.

Chapter IX

Historical/Religious

In the middle of the summer Moses the raven suddenly reappeared on the farm, after an absence of several years. He was quite unchanged, still did no work, and talked in the same strain as ever about Sugarcandy Mountain. . . . A thing that was difficult to determine was the attitude of the pigs towards Moses. They all declared contemptuously that his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain were lies, and yet they allowed him to remain on the farm, not working, with an allowance of a gill of beer a day.

This is an allusion to Joseph Stalin’s encouragement of the Russian Orthodox Church to reemerge during World War II, following its ban in 1922.

Chapter X

Historical/Political

It was a source of great satisfaction to him, [Mr. Pilkington] said—and, he was sure, to all others present—to feel that a long period of mistrust and misunderstanding had now come to an end. There had been a time . . . when the respected proprietors of Animal Farm had been regarded, he would not say with hostility, but perhaps with a certain measure of misgiving, by their human neighbours. . . . But all such doubts were now dispelled.

The meeting between Mr. Pilkington, the neighboring farmers, and the pigs is an allusion to the Tehran Conference (1943), during which the leaders of the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union met in an effort to defeat Germany, end World War II, and map out a postwar world.

Historical

Napoleon, was only now for the first time announcing it—that the name “Animal Farm” had been abolished. Henceforward the farm was to be known as “The Manor Farm”—which, he believed, was its correct and original name.

This is an allusion to when Joseph Stalin changed the name of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army to the Soviet Army.