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Since George Orwell's 1945 novel "Animal Farm" is such a complex work, you can better understand its themes and plot devices by working your way through study questions. Use these "Animal Farm" discussion questions as a guide to better comprehending the book, but for context, first, make sure you understand the gist of the story and its related history.
'Animal Farm' in Context
In short, "Animal Farm" is an allegory that depicts the rise of Joseph Stalin and communism in the former Soviet Union. Orwell was dismayed by the favorable image of World War II-era and the post-war Soviet Union. He viewed the USSR as a brutal dictatorship whose people were suffering under Stalin's rule. In addition, Orwell was angered by what he viewed as acceptance of the Soviet Union by Western countries. Given this, Stalin, Hitler, and Karl Marx are all represented in the novel, which ends with the famous quote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Questions for Review
With the context of the book in mind, prepare to answer the "Animal Farm" discussion questions below. You can review them before you read the book, as you read it, or afterward. In any case, looking at these questions will improve your comprehension of the material.
Your answers may reveal why the book has endured for generations. Discuss with your classmates or a friend who's familiar with the book. You may have somewhat different takes on the novel, but analyzing what you've read is a great way to connect with the material.
- What is important about the title?
- Why do you think Orwell chose to represent political figures as animals? Why did he choose a farm as the novel's setting?
- What if Orwell had chosen jungle or marine animals to represent the political figures?
- Is it important to know the world history of the mid- and late-1940s to fully understand what Orwell is trying to portray?
- "Animal Farm" has been described as a dystopian novel. What are some other examples of fictional works with dystopian settings?
- Compare "Animal Farm" with Orwell's other famous cautionary tale, "1984." How similar are the messages of these two works? What's different about them?
- What are the symbols in "Animal Farm?" Are they easily recognized by readers who don't know the historical context of the novel?
- Can you discern an authorial voice (a character who speaks the author's point of view) in "Animal Farm?"
- How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place somewhere else and still made the same points?
- Does the story end the way you expected? What other outcomes could there have been for "Animal Farm?"
- What would a sequel to "Animal Farm" have looked like? Were Orwell's fears about Stalin realized?