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Animal Farm is really an allegory to old Soviet politics. Although knowing this is not essential to enjoying the book, it is certainly helpful. The themes and symbolism of the book becomes clearer when one understands that:
Old Major's Dream and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto.
The Fall of Mister Jones = Russian Revolution of 1917
The Windmill = Trotsky-Stalin Conflict
Battle of the Cowshed = Russian Civil War
The list goes on but the motif of old Russia runs through the story.