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Animal Farm (book)

Last modified: 2016-03-19 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: animal farm | orwell (george) | manor farm |
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Animal Farm is a book by George Orwell, published in 1945. The story is largely a criticism of soviet-style communism.
Stuart A. Notholt, 23 December 1998, and Marc Pasquin, 14 June 2005

Farm timeline

A short (flag-centric) history to give context to the flags:

First year
21 June
Rebellion at "Manor Farm"
22 June
The farm is renamed "Animal Farm"
A green flag with a white hoof and horn is introduced (designed by Snowball)
12 October
The battle of the Cowshed
Third year
The Battle of the Windmill – Afterwards a decoration is created by Napoleon, called: The Order of the Green Banner.
Fourth year
Spontaneous Demonstrations (maybe earlier)
Animal Farm is declared a republic
Eight year (estimate)
Early Summer
  • The address "Comrade" is dropped;
  • The farm is renamed "Manor Farm";
  • A new plain green flag is flown.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 5 June 2002

Animal Farm

The first flag was the flag of Animal Farm, and was apparently used by the republic as well.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 5 June 2002

Origin and symbolism

Quoting from Animal Farm, 1945 (Snowball is one of the porcine leaders of the revolution):

Snowball had found in the harness-room an old green tablecloth of Mrs Jones's and had painted on it a hoof and a horn in white. This was run up the flagstaff in the farmhouse garden every Sunday morning. The flag was green, Snowball explained, to represent the green fields of England, while the horn and the hoof signified the future Republic of the Animals which would arise when the human race had finally been overthrown.

Stuart A. Notholt, 23 December 1998

Published design with separate symbols

The Penguin Books paperback edition of the book, shows the flag on the cover. Keep in mind, that just because this flag appeared on the cover of this particular edition of the book, that doesn't mean that this is the official interpretation of how the flag should look. Since it has been published and sold to the thousands, this design does have a fictional "existence" of its own, but it would be interesting to know the author's ideas.
António Martins 16 June 2005, and David Kendall, 14 & 16June 2005

The flag in that illustration seems to me to be of roughly 2:3 proportion, rather than the Soviet-style 1:2.
Eugene Ipavec, 16 June 2005

[Ratio above 3:4, symbols apart, crude]
Ole Andersen, added approximately 23 July 1997
[Ratio 1:2, symbols close, stylised, centred, as in flight]
David Kendall and Marc Pasquin, 14 June 2005
[Ratio 2:3, symbols close, centered, less stylised, straight]
Eugene Ipavec, David Kendall, and Marc Pasquin, 16 June 2005

Conjectural design with conjoined symbols

[Ratio 1:2, symbols as hammer and sickle in canton]
image by Marc Pasquin, 14 June 2005

Considering that the story is largely a criticism of soviet-style communism, it occured to me that a soviet-style design might be what George Orwell had in mind for the flag.
Marc Pasquin, 14 June 2005

Marc's drawing is probably more accurate than the cover version, as Orwell was indeed parodying the Soviet political system. It's probably closest to what the author intended, even if the "hoof and horn" is a bit too "fancy" for something a pig is supposed to have painted (as per the novel). But since a drawing was not provided in the original text, one can only guess.
David Kendall, 14 & 16 June 2005

Square version with large centred emblem

At Wikipedia is yet another version of the flag of the Animal Republic.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 5 October 2009

Banner for spontaneous demonstration

Apart from the green flag, there's also mention of another green banner, used in the weekly "Spontaneous Demonstrations":

Boxer and Clover always carried between them a green banner marked with the hoof and the horn and the caption, 'Long Live Comrade Napoleon!'

It's not mentioned whether in later years the green banner may have been used by other animals than the ones mentioned, but after the early summer of the eight year of the narrative it might no longer have been deemed politically correct, as it is based on the old flag, and uses the address "comrade".
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 5 June 2002

Manor Farm

image by António Martins, 21 February 2012

The hoof and horn eventually disappeared from the flag, as did much of the ceremonial surrounding its use.
Stuart A. Notholt, 23 December 1998

The flag change is described as (paraphrasing the words of the leader of the republic):

His visitors might have observed, too, the green flag which flew from the masthead. If so, they would perhaps have noted that the white hoof and horn with which it had previously been marked had now been removed. It would be a plain green flag from now onwards.

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 5 June 2002