A Report on Human Flaws

James’ first oral book report was due this week. The assignment was to be done over the Christmas break and it was a book of his choosing.  James chose Animal Farm by George Orwell which he listened to on tape this summer.  He had to listen to a lot of it again in order to write his report but it was worth it.  His teacher Shannon gave the oral report on his behalf.  Since it was to be presented to the class the main teacher said it needed to be interesting!  It was a big success so I thought I would share it.

Human Flaws Transcend Time

I had a dream! We were free to rule ourselves. Can you imagine a life without oppression? Then a battle for that exact freedom ensues and when the dust settles the oppressed stand as the victors. Free. Eventually a leader must arise and here sits Napoleon.

This sounds similar to many revolutions in history, yet it belongs to a novel, Animal Farm written by George Orwell. Even more intriguing, the victors are animals that just took control of their farm. The pigs quickly rise as the educated class, while the other animals find their place in the new society. Two pigs strive for leadership, Snowball and Napoleon. Snowball aims to be a great leader, yet Napoleon uses force to run him from the farm and assume full control.

The philosophy of animalism, all animals are equal, that started in the beginning began to crumble. The animals continue to follow Napoleon despite his obvious changes to the original agreements by all the animals. The pig named Squealer served as a propagandist to help sway the opinions of the common animals when they disagreed with Napoleon’s actions. His main statement being that Napoleon was acting on behalf of the whole farm and it was better than the old farm. Another key animal, the cart-horse named Boxer, helped the farm progress. He exemplifies dedication and loyalty throughout the novel.

Many themes run through this novel, but two dominate. The main theme, corruption, creates the backbone to the story. Napoleon trades the socialist ideals for the dictatorship he desires. When a reform group usurps a leader a new leader must arise, but often the new leader simply takes over the old reins. This occurs on the farm and the animals allow it because it is an improvement at first. The second theme, social stratification, displays itself from the revolution. This is the only fault shown in Snowball, the belief that pigs are smarter and leaders. People tend to group themselves and this is apparent on the farm.

George Orwell created this novel as a commentary on the politics of the Soviet Union, but it still applies today. More leaders, more countries, more decades. He describes basic human nature through animals on a farm. I highly recommend this book to all high school students. Whether history interests the reader, everyone can enjoy this novel.


Pandora’s Box

James had a fun and creative lesson with Elizabeth today.  He spends so much of his RPM time doing school assignments or expressing himself for matters of daily life that it is easy to forget how wonderful (and important) creative exercises like this one are for him. In this lesson he listened to paragraphs of the story and then summarized what he heard after each one. Then he was asked to write his own modern version of Pandora’s Box.

Here is some of his summary and his own version of the story.

The gods sent Epimetheu another gift. It was a box they said not to open. One day Pandora’s curiosity got the best of her and she peeked in the box. When Pandora lifted the lid she released the Troubles. The Troubles flew out and stung her and Epimetheus. The Troubles brought illness, poverty and scarcity into the world. Hope was left in the box and convinced Pandora to release it. Hope flew around the world restoring the work the Troubles had made.

Basically I am living the actual story of Pandora’s box. My life has been filled with troubles. I have not been able to speak. I was trapped in an uncooperative body. No one thought that I was smart or capable of learning. I felt hopeless. I found hope or rather hope found me in the form of RPM. Now I have been released from silence!   The end!