Animal Farm - Extract 2

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for Animal Farm by George Orwell. In it the animals find themselves taking comfort from one another on the knoll where they have a good view of the entire farm, which looks beautiful in the sunlight. The animals are agitated, as can be seen in Boxer’s swishing tail and fidgeting. This passage occurs not far from the end of the novella, after everything on the farm has taken a very sharp turn for the worse.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Always aim to read the passage through carefully more than once before you begin to answer an extract question for an exam. Each read-through will allow you to notice different aspects and particular details from the passage, so re-reading is never a waste of time.

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On the first read-through, aim for a general understanding of the extract, considering how it relates to the question you have chosen to answer. During a second reading, make detailed notes and annotations as you carefully plan how you will answer the question.

Think about any reason why the specific passage might have been chosen. What is its relationship to the rest of the text? Which significant characters or themes does it include? What happens after the extract comes to a close? Are any later events foreshadowed, or earlier events referenced? Does the passage present a turning point? Consider the ending of the extract: why does it ends where it does instead of somewhere else? What significance does the final line hold?

Note the wording of the question you have chosen to answer. Does it require you to write about mood and atmosphere? A particular character? A theme? The question might ask for your personal response to the passage or to a character. Perhaps instead the question focusses on dialogue, behaviour or feelings. Each of these will require a different sort of answer. You should always explain the passage’s immediate context: mention the events which precede the extract, considering their relevance. Detail, setting and characterisation should be mentioned insofar as they relate to the question. You should also analyse and discuss the relationship between the passage and the wider themes of the text. Structure your writing by grouping related ideas together. Ensure that you leave enough time to discuss the entire passage. It would be disappointing to treat one section so thoroughly that you run out of time to do justice to the rest of the extract!

Read the extract below carefully before answering the questions.

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Only Boxer remained on his feet. He fidgeted to and fro, swishing his long black tail against his sides and occasionally uttering a little whinny of surprise. Finally he said:

“I do not understand it. I would not have believed that such things could happen on our farm. It must be due to some fault in ourselves. The solution, as I see it, is to work harder. From now onwards I shall get up a full hour earlier in the mornings.”

And he moved off at his lumbering trot and made for the quarry. Having got there he collected two successive loads of stone and dragged them down to the windmill before retiring for the night.

The animals huddled around Clover, not speaking. The knoll where they were lying gave them a wide prospect across the countryside. Most of Animal Farm was within their view — the long pasture stretching down to the main road, the hayfield, the spinney, the drinking pool, the ploughed fields where the young wheat was thick and green, and the red roofs of the farm buildings with the smoke curling from the chimneys. It was a clear spring evening. The grass and the bursting hedges were gilded by the level rays of the sun. Never had the farm — and with a kind of surprise they remembered that it was their own farm, every inch of it their own property — appeared to the animals so desirable a place. As Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak, as she had protected the lost brood of ducklings with her foreleg on the night of Major’s speech. Instead — she did not know why — they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that even as things were they were far better off than they had been in the days of Jones, and that before all else it was needful to prevent the return of the human beings. Whatever happened she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. But still, it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped and toiled.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (Penguin Books, 1989)
  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Hysteria has prevailed on the farm, with several animals confessing to being in league with Snowball. Those seen by Napoleon as enemies, such as the hens who had led the rebellion over the eggs, are some of the first to die
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    "Beasts of England" seems to be the appropriate response to the animals' grief and they sing it until Squealer informs them that the song has been abolished
  3. The animals' terrible grief is directly contrasted with which of the following?
    The hard work, hunger, and terrible events have blinded the animals to their original achievements in the rebellion
  4. Boxer searches for the reason behind the shocking series of confessions and executions. In which one of the following lines does he find what he believes to be the cause?
    Boxer would rather indulge in self-blame than to contemplate the thought that the pigs do not have the best interest of the group at heart. His personal response to this perceived fault is, as always, to work ever harder
  5. The ideals of the revolution are set against which of the following?
    The ideals of the revolution are the equality of all animals, each animal working as much as it is able, and the protection of the weak by the strong. These words are a paraphrase of Karl Marx, who described the ideal society thus: "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs"
  6. Which of the following best describes the mood of this passage?
    Shocked and full of grief for the loss of their hopes and dreams, the animals proceed to sing "mournfully"
  7. Which of the following is true?
    Clover seems to be wilfully blind to the fact that the pigs do not rule for the good of all, supporting and strengthening their own positions at all costs
  8. What motivates Clover to keep working?
    Fear keeps the animals motivated. Even those who can no longer remember the harsh reality of the farm as run by Mr Jones will make any sacrifice necessary to keep the farm out of human hands
  9. The image of the animals huddled around Clover is juxtaposed with a memory of a similar image in which she protected the orphaned ducklings. What is the effect of the juxtaposition?
    Clover is a motherly figure, which is one reason the other animals gather around her. In a later chapter, she can do nothing to protect Boxer
  10. What is the significance of the final line in this passage?
    This is a very big moment for Clover, who has hitherto accepted that she is mistaken or has misremembered an earlier event or agreement. Unlike Boxer, she is not prepared to take blame for the way the farm has developed

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