Why teach Animal Farm?

Animal Farm might be thought of as more relevant to the history of the 20th century than today, but reading Animal Farm can help students to understand how oppressive governments have come to power and continue to rule those who live under them today.

Speaking at the One Young World conference in 2014, Park Yeon-mi (Westernized: Yeon-mi Park), a defector from North Korea, spoke about the effect that reading Animal Farm had on her:

“Reading Animal Farm set me free from the dictatorship in my head,” said Park. “I could see all the tactics used by the regime to control us–they were all in that book. Until then I thought everything that wasn’t part of the regime was evil.”

(Source: http://www.vice.com/read/parkyeonmi-is-a-north-korean-celebrity)

Ms. Park is referring to the fact that in North Korea, the way that control over the population is
maintained is through a belief in the ability of the regime to catch perpetrators of thought crimes.

(A video of Ms. Park speaking can be found under ‘cumulative exercises’, but teachers may choose to share it before reading the book.)

This mirrors the stories of those who, reading 1984 in or after escaping the Soviet Union, believed that George Orwell must have lived under a totalitarian regime. It speaks to Orwell’s power at conveying the reality for people living under brutal governments, as many people still do today.

Animal Farm offers students the chance to explore how good intentions can lead to dangerous results, the role of equal representation in a fair society, the importance of art and education in a free society, and a chance to build empathy with those who are fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy in Canada today.



Animal Farm Study Guide

Exercise Sheets


Chapter 1 – 3 Exercises

Chapter 4 – 5 Exercises

Chapter 6 – 7 Exercises

Chapter 8 – 10 Exercises


Supplementary Materials

Cultural Revolution Workbook

Park Yeon-mi – The woman who faces the wrath of North Korea

The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons

Yeonmi Park – 박연미 – North Korea’s Black Market Generation

Real-world propaganda: 1930s National Recovery Administration (New Deal) propaganda video