Blogging Animal Farm: Chapters 3 & 4
Previously, on Animal Farm: A bit of background on George "G-Eazy" Orwell and I, for one, welcome our new pig overlords.
Okay, where were we? Ah yes! Overthrowing humanity. My fave.
Here we are at Animal Farm, where the party never stops.
All the animals are working their tails off to bring in the year's hay harvest. Well, all the animals except the pigs. The pigs direct and supervise the other animals, because they are so very, very clever. The pigs are like your worst yoga teacher: they trot around, energetically yelling directions as you sweat buckets and fail to do a handstand, all while a faint pork smell hangs in the air.
Everybody works hard to bring in the hay. Boxer the Virtuous Horse works the hardest. Mollie the Ditzy Horse tends to clock out early. Benjamin the Donkey is acting the farm goth and doesn't really care that he has a different boss now.
ANIMALS: Aren't you happy now that Farmer Jones is gone?
BENJAMIN THE DONKEY:
Nobody complains or steals and it's the best harvest ever! Whee!
Also, every Sunday, the animals have a meeting where they hoist up their new flag and sing "Beasts of England" and debate stuff. Well, the pigs debate. Snowball and Napoleon (i.e., Trotsky Metaphor and Stalin Metaphor) always disagree during these debates. Trouble ahead?!
Snowball, a bit of an idealist, sets up a bunch of clubs, such as the "Clean Tails League" for the cows, which, I don't want to know how they clean one another's tails. Most of these clubs sputter out, but the animals are interested in learning how to read and write. There's this great bit where Orwell brutally judges the animals one by one. Like, the ducks are too stupid to learn anything. Ben the Goth Donkey can read but doesn't think there's anything worth reading. Boxer just writes A B C D over and over. Mollie only learns how to write her own name, and then prances around, decorating it with flowers. I found myself feeling proud that I am slightly smarter than a duck.
However, some animals can't even learn the Seven Commandments, so Snowball boils them down to: "FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD." Catchy! Almost too catchy. The sheep repeat this phrase over and over and over and over, like a herd of toddlers who've just learned "The Song That Never Ends."
Meanwhile, Napoleon is more interested in gettin' the youngin's some learnin'. He takes a few puppies up into the loft and keeps them so isolated that everyone just kind of forgets that they exist. What's he doing up there? I bet he's teaching them to balance biscuits on their nose and putting the vids on YouTube. Nice.
Then there is a TURNING POINT. I'm not just saying it this way because I LIKE TALKING IN ALL CAPS, though that is also true—Orwell himself said this moment was VERY IMPORTANT. Check it out:
Animals: What are you eating?
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television
The animals find the missing milk (hooray!) and realize that the pigs are mixing the milk in with their own food (boo)! What's more, the pigs send round orders that all the apples should be collected and given to the pigs alone. The animals are annoyed, but Squealer, the propaganda pig, says that they don't even like apples or milk. It's just that science proves the pigs need milk and apples to be healthy, and to think well. If they can't think well, then Farmer Jones will come back. Is that what they want? It is not. The animals therefore agree to give all the apples and milk to the pigs.
Here's G-Eazy himself, in a letter to a colleague: "The turning-point of the story was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves. If the other animals had had the sense to put their foot down then, it would have been all right." This is it, my friends: this is how dictators rise to power. Milky applesauce. Terrible. Terrible.
Word has spread around England of the happy-go-lucky farm where animals are in charge and the party never stops. The humans are terrified, so they basically do that thing you do when you're speaking in public and you're nervous and you giggle uncontrollably to keep from puking.
The humans say the "Beast of England" song is laughable. So silly, these utopia stories! They also say that Animal Farm is failing and all the animals are starving to death, and/or they're cannibals, and/or they torture one another with hot irons and stuff. They make the farm sound like Day 3 of Coachella, is what I'm saying.
Their tricks don't work, though. Animals all over are humming "Beasts of England" and getting sassy with their owners. Obviously, the humans (those rascals!) have to stop this before it goes too far. This is a good moment to remember that G-Eazy wasn't trying to argue that communism is bad and capitalism is better: rather, he thought both were systems in which a powerful elite subjugated and harmed the common people.
So, the farmers come to attack the farm with sticks and a gun, but the animals are ready! When the farmers charge in, the animals surround the humans and kick, head-butt, bite, and trample them. Farmer Jones shoots at Snowball, but he grazes the pig and kills a sheep instead. Snowball has some badass war wounds now. At last, the farmers all run away terrified.
In the battle, Boxer has kicked a farmboy in the head and apparently killed him. Boxer is a sweetheart, and being a murderer makes him very sad. He isn't prepared for the realities of sacrificing everything for a political-economic system. The animals realize Mollie is missing, and they find her hiding in a stable. When they come back outside, the farmboy has woken up and run off— Boxer isn't a murderer after all, hooray!
The animals are PUMPED UP. To commemorate the battle, they give Snowball the Stalin Pig, Boxer the Virtuous Horse, and the dead sheep some medals. They declare the day a holiday and feel real good about everything.
How wonderful! Let's all move to Animal Farm, where I'm sure nothing will go wrong!