Monday, November 16, 2009

Let him struggle...

In Animal Farm, the characters have meaning beyond the text. Orwell meant for Napoleon to represent Stalin and Snowball to represent Trotsky. He also meant for Squealer to represent the propaganda machine of the state controlled media.
I explaine all of this to my students before we began the novel, though I didn't spend a great deal of time with the history. I would prefer them to see some of the many viable connections between the novel and modern US governing. At any rate, one of my brighter students is having trouble with the seeing the propaganda for what it is.
Today, when asked his reaction to Napoleon restarting the Windmill project and taking credit for the idea as his own while rewriting Snowball's history as that of a traitor, the young man felt was convinced that it was Napoleon's idea all along, that Snowball had, in fact, been run off the farm for trying to steal Napoleon's idea.
My impulse was to correct him, to tell him he was wrong. Instead, I asked a few questions, pointed to a few passages, but to no avail. His peers even tried to help him out, and yet, he was able to persuade at least one other fence rider to join his position. It was a fascinating class session.
I gave him the following advice, "Continue reading. Remember that Napoleon's committee bettered the plans according to Napoleon. So, pay attention to what happens with the Windmill." We'll wait an see.


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