Who Knew A Pig Could Be So Eloquent?
Few things get me more excited about a novel than a strong opening that presents some type of tension and conflict right away.
With that in mind, one of my favorite parts of Animal Farm is Old Major’s speech in the first chapter. Old Major was obviously the Vince Lombardi, the MLK Jr., the JFK of the pig kingdom. Never has a swine had such a way with words.
Look at the beauty of this. Who knew pigs were so articulate and insightful?
Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty….
There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever….
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself….
Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!…
Who wouldn’t jump through a wall for a pig with that kind of leadership and wisdom? Reading Old Major’s speech reminded me of another great orator.
You might think this kid is just a kid who learned to ride a bike, but there’s something about this kid’s optimism, and that profound step up on the curb to talk to his minions below, that made me think of good ole Old Major.
No matter what difficulties you face, remember Old Major! And this kid.