I have just one question for you. Why do you read?
Is it to escape reality and momentarily enter a world of great white whales, witchcraft and wizardry, or hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail? Or is it to seek comfort in the loving words of a fictional friend?
Author Paul Auster most ably articulated his love for books, citing reading as his escape and comfort, his consolation and stimulant of choice; about reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.
The power of words
George Orwell’s Animal Farm was first introduced to me whilst at school. In the throws of my innocent teenage years, yet untainted by the world, Orwell’s carefully crafted allegorical tale was little more than one of cunning pigs, hardworking horses and a visionary old boar.
Some books are only meant to be consumed once. Ulysses, I’m looking at you. Others, however, yearn for multiple perusals. Animal Farm is one such book.
Each reading offers a different insight, a different perspective. As the world around us constantly evolves, so does our interpretation.
As news of Trump’s travel ban permeated the airwaves, I turned to the land of literature for a brief history lesson.
In the opening scenes of Animal Farm, I unfailingly cheer for the animals. Living under the cruel rule of The Manor Farm, Old Major, the astute old boar, offers hope with the promise of a revolution.
Animal Farm is a classic satire of the Russian Revolution, but a century on, it bares a startling resemblance to today’s world.
Eager to extricate themselves from the “enemy’s” control, the animals create a wholly democratic society built on the credo that “All Animals Are Created Equal.”
There is nothing but hope at Animal Farm. Hope, and the belief that better times lie ahead. Hmm sounds familiar…give me a minute, it’ll come to me…
Inevitably, the cleverness of the pigs sees them subtly assume the role as leaders of the new community and instigate a harsh new regime.
As I again tore through the pages of Orwell’s novella, I was struck by one overarching theme. The exploitation of the loyal, somewhat ignorant, followers.
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
Slowly but surely, the once democratic society descends into totalitarianism. Promises of a better life are nothing more than a faint memory. Yet, the animals are adamant they are better off under their new leader.
The climax of this tale ultimately lies in the brutal betrayal of one of their own.
So, in this world, are we all equal, or are some more equal than others? That, I believe, is up to us.
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