Animal Farm is one of those books that people complain about having had to read in high school. My high school didn’t require it so my discovery was later on, in college. I picked it out of curiosity, and it became one of my favorite books. I’ve read it probably ten times.
I tend to like books with happy endings. This isn’t one of those. It’s a simple story about a not-so-simple problem: the increasing influence of government and the loss of freedom by degrees. When I was growing up I often heard people say, “I can do what I want. It’s a free country”. I don’t hear them saying that anymore. What is the extent of our freedom? Is it the same as it was ten years ago? Have we noticed when changes were made? In the context of Animal Farm it is likely that we feel, as the animals did, a vague uneasiness when something that used to be free now costs money, or something we used to do without thought now requires a permit. We must now be more watchful of the words we use.
As Comrade Napoleon directs the resources of the farm into the building of the Windmill, what will be the final cost? Will it be worth the effort and expense? Who benefits? The pigs always had compelling reasons for doing what they did, but the results always turned out in their favor. Strange how that happens. The message of Animal Farm is short, if not sweet… and very powerful.