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A Letter to Orwell, author of Animal Farm

Corey Hancock
Houston High School
9th - 12th Grade

Dear Mr. George Orwell,

My name is Corey Hancock, and I'm writing you in order to share the impact that your novel Animal Farm had, and continues to have, on me. I was assigned your book to read as a freshman in high school, so, as with all schoolwork, I wasn't exactly thrilled about the prospect. When I was told that the book is a satirical work focusing on dysfunctional aspects of communism, I thought I knew what I was in for. I thought to myself, "Well of course communism is evil. Every true American knows that, so maybe I'll enjoy this one more than Lord of the Flies." Needless to say, I had different ideas after the read (minus my dislike for Mr. Golding's book). 

My first surprise was that I was not pushed towards hating communists. In fact, I was shocked by my sympathy for the farm animals and their oppression under the farmer. I could feel the drive behind their rebellion. I became easily caught up in rooting for the underdog. After all, what's more American than a revolution? And to top all of that off, I actually wanted their government to work! Finally, equality and unity for the masses. If it wasn't for my knowledge of history, I might've been caught off guard by the turns the story took.

That's one of my favorite aspects of your work. This isn't simply an attack on communism. There's nothing too noteworthy about that. It's your story's historical counterpart that makes it unlike any other book I have ever read. I have always enjoyed history, and I knew some information on the Russian Revolution and Vladimir Lenin's rise to power. However, your novel taught me more about this time in history than any textbook could. It caused me to research some "secondary characters" such as Leon Trotsky and Czar Nicholas II. Also the incarnation of these characters as farm animals aided in erasing the biases and stereotypes that come to mind when I hear such things as "The Soviet Union" or "Karl Marx".

The realization of these preconceived notions was the greatest effect that Animal Farm had on me. For the first time I was able to understand the logic behind and purpose of communism, and that, astonishingly, I admired its ideals. I was all for strength to the common man and elimination of classes. However, your book also taught me an important lesson. People aren't perfect. There is a quote from the novel that still fascinates and frightens me today. "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." I realized that no matter how strong one's desire for equality, they will more than likely reach for dominance at first chance. This is not merely a cynical world view. The endless examples of oppressive governments attests to this truth. Your book helped me to realize that a communist government will only succeed if it is run by perfect human beings.

It is my shattered expectations and surprising realizations that confirm the impact of your book. Although the book is based around a specific historical event, its implications are still relevant today. I am now more aware of my prejudices, and I seek more information before forming opinions. Animal Farm also amplified my appreciation for history and installed in me a desire to apply its lessons to my judgments. That is why your novel was more than a satirical commentary to me. It offered me valuable insight into the human nature and taught me what shapes we stand for.