Book Review One: Animal Farm by George Orwell 1945

During 2024 we are going to do a series of English lessons related to famous authors and their books. One of the regular peices of advice I give to all of my students is that one of the best ways to advance your vocabulary and understand another culture is to read.  Reading expands your knowledge, increases your knowledge of the English language and how we use it and opens your world. When I ask my students the question: “Do you read?” invariably, they say no. Unfortunately, the internet seems to have killed books.  DOWNLOAD the BOOK HERE

Book Study One:

Animal Farm by George Orwell. 

Animal farm is not about animals. It’s about people and how they behave when given too much power.  Something we can all relate to. Animal farm presents some amazing vocabulary through the eyes and voices of farm animals.  George Orwell wrote this book with the Russian Revolution in mind.  Below are a few paragraphs we are going to study.

Chapter One:

Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (SCULLERY):  Pantry, larder, buttery, kitchenette, storeroom

Synonyms (DREW):    pour, serve, dispense, fill, draft

Grammar Question:

1. Convert the following direct speech to indirect speech: “Old Major proclaimed, ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'”

Video Listening Section:  Watch the 5 minute video and answer the questions below:


            1. When did The Russian Revolution start?
            2. How many Russian soliers died in World War One?
            3. When did Starlin die?
            4. How did Leon Trotski die?
            5. Who does  the old pig (Old Major)  represent in the book?  And who does the pig (Snowball) represent in the book?

As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone round during the day that old Major, the prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals. It had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soon as Mr. Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called, though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty) was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (STIRRING): wake-up, rousing, inspiring, electrifying, galvanizing, invigorating

Synonyms (EXHIBIT):  Display, Showcase, Presentation, Demonstration, Expo

Grammar Question:

2. Identify whether the following statement is an example of direct or indirect speech: “Napoleon informed them that the windmill had been destroyed.”

At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut. Before long the other animals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their different fashions. First came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher, and then the pigs, who settled down in the straw immediately in front of the platform. The hens perched themselves on the window-sills, the pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep and cows lay down behind the pigs and began to chew the cud.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (STOUT):  robust, sturdy, strong, hefty, thickset

Synonyms (ENSCONCED):  nestled, entrenched, settled, embedded, cocooned, lay

Grammar Question:

3. Change this indirect speech to direct speech: Snowball told the animals that they must defend the farm.

The two cart-horses, Boxer and Clover, came in together, walking very slowly and setting down their vast hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small animal concealed in the straw. Clover was a stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal. Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work. After the horses came Muriel, the white goat, and Benjamin, the donkey.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (STRAW): hay, stalk, chaff, reed, wisp

Synonyms (FIRST-RATE):  top-notch, excellent, superior, prime, exceptional

Grammar Question:

4. In this sentence, identify if it’s direct or indirect speech: “The hens were told by Napoleon to increase egg production.”

Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did, it was usually to make some cynical remarkfor instance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals on the farm he never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing to laugh at. Nevertheless, without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the two of them usually spent their Sundays together in the small paddock beyond the orchard, grazing side by side and never speaking.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (SELDOM):  infrequently, rarely, scarcely, sporadically, occasionally

Synonyms (DEVOTED):  Dedicated, committed, loyal, steadfast, faithful

Grammar Question:

5. Rewrite the following sentence in indirect speech: “‘I will work harder,’ vowed Boxer.”

The two horses had just lain down when a brood of ducklings, which had lost their mother, filed into the barn, cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find some place where they would not be trodden on. Clover made a sort of wall round them with her great foreleg, and the ducklings nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep. At the last moment Mollie, the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr. Jones’s trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar. She took a place near the front and began flirting her white mane, hoping to draw attention to the red ribbons it was plaited with. Last of all came the cat, who looked round, as usual, for the warmest place, and finally squeezed herself in between Boxer and Clover; there she purred contentedly throughout Major’s speech without listening to a word of what he was saying.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

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