My rules for literature consumption:
1. No reading The Shinning before vacation.
2. The Hunger Games should be read every year before school starts just to remind us how shaky the house of cards really is.
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is read every Christmas. No exceptions.
After following these rules faithfully for the last couple years, in the wake of last nights Jackson Co. Fair visit, I have added a fourth literary rule:
4. Never read Animal Farm before going to a fair.
The basic plot of the Orwell classic is this: Farm animals feel exploited. A rebellion, began by the old pig Major, is executed by Napoleon and Snowball, two pigs and his juniors. The animals take over the farm, throwing off their human masters with the sheep chanting the mantra, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Snowball is the thoughtful and calculated leader, but Napoleon is the brash and charismatic leader. He also has two advantages over Snowball as he grabs sole control over the Farm: 1) he has Squealer, a pig who is gifted at controlling, spinning, and disseminating information to the other animals; 2) he has the dogs. When a litter of puppies is born, Napoleon puts them in the loft, cut off from the other animals, and put himself in charge of their education, turning them into his own henchmen posse. Napoleon expelled snowball (labeling him a Traitor), works the animals to death, and controls all the decisions on Animal Farm. He is a paranoid dictator, exploiting the labor of even the most loyal of animals, Buck the draft horse. The novel ends with the animals realizing their new animal overlords, the pigs, are not an improvement over the humans. Things are worse than ever.
Walking into the beige barn that rises up in the middle of the Jackson Co Fair grounds, I was ready to watch the steer weigh in. Then I saw it. Some pigs were being driven in the show pen. Every other animal gets a halter and a lead rope…but not the pigs. The are untethered. Their handler, if you can really call them that since they are not attached, has a little stick to direct their pigs with taps on the side. Some pigs are pretty tame…some are fairly insane. Then I looked to the pens where they are being fed fine grain, lounging under fans, and getting baths. Wilbur from Charlottes Web never hadn’t it so good. That’s when I began to look at every pig in the barn with a healthy suspicion.
On the west end of the barn were the sheep. The dim witted animals of the novel that represented the masses. They blindly followed orders, never thinking for themselves. I had no fear in the west end of the barn. But the east end left me with an uneasy feeling, as though we were in.ching ever closer by the second to an uprising. There was a plot a-ungulate-foot. No wonder the Hebrews were forbidden pigs.
I felt like they knew that I had had bacon that morning.
Read the classics, but don’t do it during fair season.