George Orwell’s Animal Farm is another one of those books that is only very briefly mentioned in Lost. But like Julius Caesar, I already read this one, so I figured I would do a short review of it.*
* As an aside, Animal Farm is fairly unique in that it was a book almost universally liked by every high schooler that read it. By my count, it joins To Kill a Mockingbird and The Count of Monte Christo on a very short list. Making kids read classics of literature that they actually ENJOY?!? Strange concept!
Animal Farm is referenced in the season three episode Exposé. This infamous episode was a sort of flashback to various happenings on the Island, just so the viewer knew that Nikki and Paulo actually were there the whole time. Arzt and Shannon are in a heated discussion with Kate after they found out that her and Jack found the guns and hid them. Upset that Jack had the only key, Arzt walks away shouting “The pigs are walking! The pigs are walking!” in reference to one of the last scenes in Animal Farm.
This story is another one of the books that is familiar to most people, even if they haven’t read it yet (although the actual reference itself might not be, hence this review). I actually don’t remember much of the intricate details, but a short recap will suffice to understand the reference.
Animal Farm is an allegory about the overthrow of the feudal regime led by czars in Russia and the early years of Soviet communism. In the beginning, animals take over a farm from their human oppressors (the czars). Led by pigs Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin), the animals create a well-run regime grounded in seven rules of animalism.
It doesn’t last. Napoleon becomes power-hungry and frames Snowball for things that go wrong in the community. Eventually, Napoleon uses dogs to chase Snowball out of the farm and consolidates power for himself. He becomes a ruthless, violent totalitarian leader who ignores virtually every single rule that the animals originally laid down.
Napoleon surrounds himself with thugs and rules through fear. In one of the final scenes, Napoleon and his top pigs join the humans, walking on two legs. Throughout the book, one of the animals main tenets is that four legs are good, two legs are bad. This last scene that Arzt refers to represents that the pigs have become no better than their human oppressors.
Mostly this quote was just a fun little reference from a paranoid Arzt, who felt left out of the major character’s leadership. And it’s hard to blame him: the lesser passengers sure fell behind their more beautiful counterparts in the Island’s leadership structure.
When Arzt first uttered this quote, many speculated that some of the more anonymous background characters would start to show their displeasure with Jack and Locke’s leadership. That never really came to pass, but we did start to see some characters withdraw from the camp and openly question decisions.
Bernard and Rose (and Vincent) withdrew from the camp in one of the time flashes in season five. Fed up with all the games that the leaders played with each other, they simply opted out. Also in season give, Frogurt expresses disgust with Sawyer and Juliet during one of the time flashes (and he promptly receives a flaming arrow for his troubles).
The book did foreshadow the camp split that happened at the end of season three between Jack’s followers and Locke’s followers. Neither one really compares well with Napoleon and Snowball. That seems to make sense, because we saw a different fracture of camps than in Animal Farm. Although Jack and Locke argued – and Jack even tried to shoot Locke – they largely went their separate ways. The difference, I think, lays in the outside factors. Jack and Locke were more concerned with the Others and how to get off the Island. Left on their own at the farm, the animals did not have to worry about any of that.
Most importantly, this book is just another example of every thing I love about Lost. One random line from a minor character that had all of 50 or so total lines in the show results in this breakdown from me. Perhaps I’m just crazy.
For more of my book reviews, return to my Literature of Lost series.