Study Guide

Animal Farm Tough-o-Meter

By George Orwell


Base Camp (3)

A warning about political tyranny isn't particularly effective if no one can understand it—that's the whole point of using a fable about farm animals rather than writing a complex essay about political theory. So, relax. Animal Farm is about as easy as it gets without actually being a picture book. Check out the first sentence:

Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. (1.1)

We're barely even in two-syllable range here, Shmoopers. And notice how almost all the words are nice, simple, concrete words with Anglo-Saxon roots—"hen," "night," "shut," and so on? We know immediately that we're not going to be encountering abstract meditations on Latinate words like "justice," "politics," or even "tyranny." The hard part isn't reading Animal Farm. The hard part is coming to terms with its uncomfortable truths.