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Animal Farm - Extract 1
Muriel, the goat, could read somewhat better than the dogs.

Animal Farm - Extract 1

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This high school English Literature quiz is the first of two extract questions for George Orwell's Animal Farm. It takes place in Chapter III and describes the education program introduced on the farm. Snowball has created several committees, such as the Wild Comrades’ Re-education Committee and the Whiter Wool Movement, for the betterment of the animals. In this passage, the divergence in views between Snowball and Napoleon becomes apparent. Other issues which will later prove contentious on the farm also begin to arise at this early stage.

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The reading and writing classes, however, were a great success. By the autumn almost every animal on the farm was literate in some degree.

As for the pigs, they could already read and write perfectly. The dogs learned to read fairly well, but were not interested in reading anything except the Seven Commandments. Muriel, the goat, could read somewhat better than the dogs, and sometimes used to read to the others in the evenings from scraps of newspaper which she found on the rubbish heap. Benjamin could read as well as any pig, but never exercised his faculty. So far as he knew, he said, there was nothing worth reading. Clover learned the whole alphabet, but could not put words together. Boxer could not get beyond the letter D. He would trace out A, B, C, D in the dust with his great hoof, and then would stand staring at the letters with his ears back, sometimes shaking his forelock, trying with all his might to remember what came next and never succeeding. On several occasions, indeed, he did learn E, F, G, H, but by the time he knew them it was always discovered that he had forgotten A, B, C and D. Finally he decided to be content with the first four letters, and used to write them out once or twice every day to refresh his memory. Mollie refused to learn any but the five letters which spelled her own name. She would form these very neatly out of pieces of twig, and would then decorate them with a flower or two and walk round them admiring them.

None of the other animals on the farm could get further than the letter A. It was also found that the stupider animals such as the sheep, hens and ducks, were unable to learn the Seven Commandments by heart. After much thought Snowball declared that the Seven Commandments could in effect be reduced to a single maxim, namely: “Four legs good, two legs bad”. This, he said contained the essential principle of Animalism. Whoever had thoroughly grasped it would be safe from human influences. The birds at first objected, since it seemed to them that they also had two legs, but Snowball proved to them that this was not so.

“A bird’s wing, comrades,” he said, “is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing mark of Man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.”

The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters. When they had once got it by heart the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!” and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.

Napoleon took no interest in Snowball’s committees. He said that the education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up. It happened that Jessie and Bluebell had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.

The mystery of where the milk went to was soon cleared up. It was mixed every day into the pigs’ mash.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (Penguin Books, 1989)
What is the immediate context for this passage?
The pigs have just taken up residence in the farmhouse
The animals' rebellion has been successful and they have begun to organize life on the farm
The Battle of the Cowshed has been a victory for the animals
The animals have begun to use Mr Whymper as an intermediary
The period after successfully ousting Mr Jones is occupied with organization as the animals set up the systems which will allow them to work together productively and enjoy their leisure time
What immediately follows this passage?
The Battle of the Windmill
Confessions and executions
Mollie abandons the farm
Squealer explains why pigs need a better diet than the other animals
Squealer explains that the pigs need milk and apples because science has proven them necessary for their diet. His argument depends on the notion that pigs are more important to the running of the farm than any of the other animals and he also draws upon the animals' fear of the return of Mr Jones
Napoleon's idea of education can best be described as which of the following?
A collaboration between teacher and learner
A collaboration between learners
An enterprise in which the teacher passes on as much knowledge as the student is able to learn
Napoleon's belief in educating the young, rather than the older animals, is revealed as sinister in light of later events. The dogs are trained as his private security force or army in a process known as "brainwashing". The dogs are not educated in the traditional sense, or for their own benefit, but are intended instead to serve Napoleon's needs
Snowball is selflessly dedicated to the education of the other animals. Which of the following lines introduces some doubt about his character?
"The distinguishing mark of Man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief"
"The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation"
"The birds at first objected, since it seemed to them that they also had two legs, but Snowball proved to them that this was not so"
"Napoleon took no interest in Snowball’s committees"
The birds know that they have two legs, but Snowball is so persuasive that he can make them doubt even this most basic self knowledge
"The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart." What problem does this passage reveal?
The attempt to make the commandments as simple as possible has the potential to lead to a loss of meaning
The humbler animals do not really support the commandments
The birds have little faith in Snowball and can easily be misled about his intentions later
The humbler animals are too lazy to learn all of the commandments properly
Although the aim in developing a maxim derives from the wish to include all animals by simplifying the commandments, the oversimplified phrase eventually becomes almost meaningless and is later revised with ease. Snowball's explanation that the human ability to manipulate with the hand is at the heart of the matter is much too complex a meaning to be held by the simple maxim
Which animal acts on the belief that literacy is a skill to use to the benefit of others?
Although Muriel and Benjamin are similar in their level of literacy, Benjamin's cynicism means that he does not use his abilities for the sake of others, saying that "there was nothing worth reading". Muriel, on the other hand, reads whatever she can find to the other animals, even if it is only old news. With which animal do you agree?
Sheep are known for behaving as a group, rather than as individuals, making them ideal as Napoleon's unthinking followers in Animal Farm. Their portrayal here also shows signs of which of the following?
You can imagine: "Four legs good, two legs baaaaaaaad!" Animal Farm, while extraordinarily serious in its intentions, is also often very funny
Mollie's educational focus reveals which characteristic?
Mollie is frivolous and self-interested. She does not make an effort to become educated beyond the minimum required in order to increase her self-admiration
Why does Napoleon choose the loft for raising the puppies?
Because it is reached by a ladder and only pigs can climb ladders
Seclusion is necessary so that the puppies do not grow attached to any of the other animals
Secrecy is necessary because Napoleon does not wish the other animals to become aware of his plans
All of the above
It is much easier for Napoleon to train the animals to kill if they have no other loyalties than to him
Many of the animals' natural traits are shown to act against their ability to preserve their own welfare. Which of the following traits is NOT apparent in this passage?
Inability to learn to read well
Many of the animals prove incapable of grasping more than the alphabet, and the birds trust Snowball, even without understanding him. Forgetfulness is highlighted in this passage: Boxer forgets the letters he has learned and all of the animals forget the existence of the puppies. Their forgetfulness later makes them mistrust the discrepancy between their memory of the commandments and the evidence written on the wall
Author:  Sheri Smith

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