Use of structure in Animal Farm

curriculum-key-fact
When analysing the structure of Animal Farm remember:
  • the novel is written in 10 chapters
  • it can be divided into three sections
  • the narrative is circular

Animal Farm follows a simple structure. It is written in 10 chapters that can be divided into three sections:

  • the Dream
  • the Rebellion
  • Napoleon’s regime

Each chapter tells a story in its own right and has an 'ending', which makes the story easy to follow. It also allows the reader a chance to reflect about the lessons taught in each chapter.

We can see this my looking at the ends of some of the chapters:

Chapter one

quote
He seized the gun which always stood in a corner of his bedroom, and let fly a charge of Number 6 shot into the darkness. The pellets buried themselves in the wall of the barn and the meeting broke up hurriedly. Everyone fled to his own sleeping-place. The birds jumped onto their perches, the animals settled down in the straw, and the whole farm was asleep in a moment.End of chapter one

After the excitement of Old Major's speech, the ending of chapter one reminds the reader that Mr Jones is a tyrant. The reader wants to know if the rebellion Old Major spoke of will ever happen.

Chapter three

quote
The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.End of chapter three

At the end of chapter three, the reader begins to see the cracks in the newly founded 'Animal Farm'. There's a chance to think about the lesson on equality that Orwell is trying to teach. The reader wants to read on to see if the pigs make any more unfair changes to the farm.

Have a look at the end of each chapter. How does Orwell end each one? What do you think he's trying to say at the end of each chapter? How does the reader respond?

The narrative could be described as circular - this means that it ends as it began, with the animals being oppressed by a cruel leader.

How to analyse structure

quote
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.End of chapter 10
Question

Why did Orwell choose to write Animal Farm as a circular narrative?

  • The ending highlights that oppression is impossible to escape - the pigs were always going to become tyrants.
  • It shows that there will always be groups in society that abuse their power - Orwell tries to show this to the reader so that they will stop this sort of behaviour.
  • It also shows that equality is difficult to achieve - Orwell shows that equality must be fought for.