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We’re continuing with our Animal Farm character analysis and, today, we will be taking a closer look at Moses the Raven. Although Moses isn’t a major character in Animal Farm, Orwell uses him to highlight how religion was abused by Stalin.
As such, Moses represents the Russian Orthodox Church. You’ll notice that Orwell even gave Moses a Biblical name, thereby strengthening this religious connection.
Moses the Raven in Chapter One
At the beginning of the story, Moses is introduced to the reader as having a special place on the farm because he is Mr. Jones’ pet. Jones uses Moses to keep an eye on the other animals:
“He was a spy and a talebearer but he was also a clever talker.”
In return, Moses is rewarded with beer and bread. He is, therefore, the only animal on the farm who does no physical labour. Understandably, the other animals dislike Moses for this reason, as well as for his love of telling tales.
Moses and Sugarcandy Mountain
Moses spends a lot of time talking about a place called Sugarcandy Mountain. This place, claims Moses, is situated somewhere beyond the clouds and is the place where all animals will go when they die. Moses provides a very vivid description of Sugarcandy Moutain to those who will listen:
“In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.”
What we have here is a clear allusion to heaven. Just like the Christian version of heaven, Sugarcandy Mountain is a kind of utopia; a place where there is no work or suffering, only happiness and abundance.
Moses and the Rebellion
After the Rebellion, Moses leaves the farm with Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Remember that Moses is not a silly bird. He knows that nobody else would feed him for doing nothing. Moses’ exit from the farm is an allusion to what happened to the Russian Church when Stalin took over. Stalin tried to best to remove religion from daily life because he felt that it threatened his power. So Moses and his ideas about Sugarcandy Mountain disappear.
Moses and the Pigs
During World War Two, Stalin reinstated the Russian Orthodox Church. He realised that it could be useful having the Church around – and its idea of heaven – to placate the hungry and over-worked population. We see this event reflected in Chapter Nine when Moses suddenly returns to the farm, talking again about Sugarcandy Mountain. In return for coming back, the pigs reward Moses with a gill of beer a day.
What’s really interesting here is that although the pigs dislike Moses, they use him just as Mr. Jones did – proving that they are becoming the very masters that they once hated.
So, Moses might be hated on the farm but he is, perhaps, one of the smartest characters: he uses his ability to tell stories to make sure that his belly is never empty and that he stays on the right side of the pigs.