Thursday, February 23, 2012

Animal Farm: Who is the Cat??

Due to its allegorical nature, the characters in Animal Farm are meant to represent certain persons or peoples. Most of the symbolism is obvious, such as Boxer, who represents the industrial workers, and Napoleon, who is Stalin, but some of the references are less clear (see previous post debating whether Old Major is Lenin or Marx). One such symbol is the cat. The cat does not appear throughout the novel, for she disappears just before the first purge, and never returns. Earlier in the novel, however, she is mentioned several times. She takes no apparent interest in animalism, in fact, the one time she votes on an issue,  she votes on both sides. She then joins the "re-education committee" and takes interest in the sparrows. She tries to convince them to come to her, preaching that under animalism she cannot hurt them, but they stay away, perhaps wisely, for the tone of the passage implies that her intentions may not be virtuous. To me, this action suggests that the group she represents is educated, but perhaps not in full support of animalism. This suggests that she could represent the educated of Russia, more specifically, the educated who did not believe that communism was the correct path. She also skips out on work, which could mean the educated because they did not do physical nature. One more clue is the nature of a cat on a farm: the cat performs a service (rodent control) and receives benefits (milk, shelter). This further implies that the cat was privileged under the Czars, which further implies the wealthy, educated class.

11 comments:

  1. This is a good question! Nobody really talks about the cat much because it is only there at the beginning and plays a small role. I'm not so sure who the cat represents either. I would agree with your logic that the cat represents Russia'a educated class, although I'm not so sure about wealthy because that was who Mollie (the horse who ran away because she loved ribbons and sugar too much) was. I think another possibility for the cat could be gypsy. They were nomadic people who didn't care much for government and the cat did wander as it pleased. Also, gypsies are known for their skills in language or "silver tongues" which would reflect in the cat trying to trick the sparrows that they were all comrades.

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  2. I am inclined to think that the cat represents the spies, although this is just a feeling and I have no evidence to prove it.

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  3. I also think the Cat represent the shadier type of Russian society.

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  4. I think the translation for the Russian criminal underworld means something like 'Society of Cats', and the cynical opportunism certainly suggests a criminal nature. This comparison might not be entirely intended, but I see the cat as more clever than educated.

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  5. I think the translation for the Russian criminal underworld means something like 'Society of Cats', and the cynical opportunism certainly suggests a criminal nature. This comparison might not be entirely intended, but I see the cat as more clever than educated.

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  6. Wow. I had forgotten that...was that in "Gulag Archipelago"? I've read it somewhere because I always thought of the Cat as the 'thieves' about which Solzhenistyn wrote. Of course they can also represent those who go along with the revolution, just not whole-heartedly like Boxer or blindly, like the sheep, but are out for what they can get--these are necessary for tyranny to work as well.

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  9. The cat represents the lazy bastards who claim other people's money in benefits, but do not actively seek to get a job, even though they could. This is demonstrated by the cat telling the birds they are friends, as a ploy to try and eat them.

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  10. or an anarchist or something like dat?

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