70 pages 2 hours read

Animal Farm

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1945

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Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

1. Create definitions or descriptions for the terms Marxism, socialism, and communism. How do they relate to each other, and how are they different?

Teaching Suggestion: Animal Farm is an allegorical fable based on the history of Soviet Communism. However, Orwell, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, does not intend to criticize Marx’s theory and ideology as a whole, only the ways in which it fails when corrupted in practice as communism. Thus, an introduction to the basic tenets of Marxism and its differentiation as a theory from the practices of socialism and communism may help students appreciate the nuances of the text when they read it.

  • This video gives a clear and succinct explanation of the basic ideas put forth by Karl Marx.
  • This video, which explains the differences between socialism and communism, also discusses how they relate to Marx’s ideology.

2. What were some of the precipitating factors that brought about the Russian Revolution? Who were the key figures involved? If your history studies have not yet covered this topic, you may want to investigate the conditions surrounding this period of upheaval and discuss factors that might be common to many revolutions.

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