From OpenContent Curriculum
Animal Farm Synopsis
Students were shown the PowerPoint on this page as an introduction to Animal Farm. Discussed here are the major events of the Russian Revolution, including the major characters. Also explained in this presentation are the important literary terms: symbolism, allegory, satire, and fable. I have found it a good resource for pre-reading, particularly when they also read the introduction to the book by C.M. Woodhouse.
- Who is Major, or what person involved in the Russian Revolution might he represent?
- Compare Major's speech and the excerpt from The Communist Manifesto (see the link under Resources). How are they similar? What flaws do you find in them?
- Major says this about humans and animals: "All men are enemies. All animals are comrades." Who do humans represent, and who do the animals represent?
- Major also says in his speech, "No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth." What truth is there in this statement as it relates to real life?
Chapters 2 and 3:
- How were the pigs able to convince the entire barn to turn to Animalism?
- What foreshadowing do you see in the behavior of the pigs? Use specific examples.
- The similarities between Communism and Animalism are quite obvious, and will be more specifically tracked in the Revolution chart. What similarities do you see between the government that is forming on Animal Farm and the government under which we live?
- One main goal behind Animalism is to rid the world of all humans and even the reflection of any kind of humanity. What might be the positive and negative effects of this on the animals?
- The pigs insist on calling each other "comrades." What kind of tone are they trying to create? Going back to your foreshadowing predictions, why is it necessary for them to create this tone?
- Has Orwell been accurate, in your opinion, in his creation of satirical characters for Stalin, Trotsky, the proletariats, and so forth? Explain your answer.
- What events did the animals choose to celebrate annually?
- Why do you suppose Napoleon isn’t mentioned very much in this chapter?
- What kinds of morals do we see displayed by the citizens of Animal Farm? What is right and what is wrong?
- Boxer was verbally upset over the death of the boy, but Snowball replied, "No sentimentality, comrade!" What does this tell us about Snowball, and what might it be foreshadowing?
- Who are the protagonist and antagonist in this story? Defend your answer using the text.
Chapters 5 and 6:
- Why do you suppose Napoleon so adamantly opposed the windmill from the beginning? And why did, in his new plans, the windmill take a full year longer to build?
- Napoleon has taken a drastic and dangerous step in his leadership position. What do you think might the future of the farm look like now that he has assumed the role of a dictator of sorts?
- Why are the animals so happy in the beginning with Napoleon in charge of everything?
- In Chapter 6, Napoleon has done a complete 180 about the windmill; he is demanding sacrifice after sacrifice in order to see to its completion. Why do you suppose he does this?
- In what ways are the pigs beginning to resemble the humans and break the original 7 commandments? Why are they doing this?
- The truth about how the windmill was destroyed is obvious: the winds tore it down because it was not strong enough. Napoleon demands that it be rebuilt immediately, despite the circumstances which will make it even more difficult. What are some noble and ignoble reason's for Napoleon's decision, in terms of the good of the animals?
Chapters 8 and 9:
- What might be some reasons that Napoleon makes only few and far between appearances outside of the farmhouse? And why do the animals enjoy the celebrations that he gives himself?
- Why does Napoleon keep changing his mind about Frederick and Pilkington? What consequences does Animal Farm face because of Napoleon's lack of alliance with anyone?
- Benjamin always turns out to be the voice of reason, even if no one listens to him. Who do you think he represents in this story? Why?
- Respond to Boxer's death. How will this change the attitude on the farm?
- If you were in a situation like this one, where it would cost you your life to disagree or to speak out, what would you do?
Link to excerpt from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels:
Vocabulary Words in The Communist Manifesto:
Unit Guide, .pdf File: