Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s story time again. I think most readers agree that when you have to read and analyze a book in high school, it can take something away from the magic of said book. At the time that this was assigned, I had already read 1984 just for funsies. My relationship with Orwell’s work was established as being positive. So I was excited! I wanted to read this. I was totally pumped about it.
I enjoyed the reading of it. I got through it pretty quickly. Then the analysis phase started, where we all sat around with the teacher giving us open-ended questions about what we thought the book was about. I think most high-schoolers are unprepared for this sort of thing. I read books, but I didn’t think about theme and symbolism and all that. I feel more suited to it now, but then it’s my choice to think of books that way now, not something imposed by an instructor.
Anyway, she would ask us aloud to answer questions about the book, and typically no one wanted to say anything, because no one knew what to say. So I would try to take wild stabs in the dark, because for a minute there, I thought I actually understood this story and its meaning. But everything I said was shot down, and I was told I was wrong again and again. It made me feel very stupid, even though I understand more clearly now that whatever you get out of a book is your own journey with that book, and no one can judge it as “right” or “wrong.”
I love this book. I do. It’s very deep. It’s an easy read if you want to get into classics. It sets a fire in your heart about injustice. But goddammit, my teacher made me feel stupid, and that haunted me for a long time, and fuck this book. As well.