Fables: Animal Farm Discussion

Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill WillinghamFables, Volume 2: Animal Farm Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Bill Willingham (2003)

Fables Buddy Read & Blog Tour

Volume 2: Animal Farm
This volume takes Snow and Red to the Farm, where non-human Fables live out their lives safe from Mundy eyes. But the Farm is on the verge of revolution, and violence is inevitable.

Discussion Questions

  • How do the non-Human Fables compare to the human Fables? Is there a difference in how they are presented, or in your reactions?
  • After the mystery setup of volume 1, volume 2 turns to social satire and violent revolution. How does the difference in style and format between volumes add to (or subtract from) your enjoyment of the series so far?
  • Do you think that the plight of the non-human Fables is presented fairly? Are their punishments fair?

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9 thoughts on “Fables: Animal Farm Discussion

  1. These are some great questions! This has been so fun! For the first question, I felt like, in comparison with the first installment, that the animals are portrayed as much more cunning and vicious than their human counterparts. The animals are shifty eyed and power hungry. The fables can also be very cunning but it seems to be centered more on just a few fable characters, like Rose Red. The whole of the farm was represented as cunning and predatory. To the point where you couldn’t tell who was on what side. I also thought that there was a big difference between the farm and city animals. The city animals are a lot more domesticated for lack of a better word. They aren’t presented to be quite as intelligent as their farm counterparts. It was interesting too to see the non-human fables animalistic qualities come out. Especially with Shere Khan. He’s a predator through and through.

    I’m immensely enjoying the series so far, though I thought with this one that Willingham bit off a little more than he could chew. The revolutionary period is great, it’s brutal and reminded me both of the French and Russian Revolutions. But towards the end the story started to unravel a bit. It seemed a bit like Willingham didn’t quite know how to wrap things up quickly. He was telling a much larger story than he had room to tell. The end was not quite as satisfying as the first volume. Though I do think that the narratives are getting tighter as we learn more about each fable.

    The plight of the non-human fables was very much like the Russian Revolution. Instead of a Lenin, Goldy went straight to Stalin. She was willing to sacrifice everyone for a cause that she didn’t even truly believe in. She wanted power pure and simple. It wasn’t so much about the plight of the non-human fables. Like most evil overlords she wanted the world. I do think that the non-human fables have a legitimate point. They are relegated to such a specific place because of their appearance and have very little freedom. They feel downtrodden and forgotten by the other fables, and to a certain extent they are. I think that it was time things changed down there for the better, but perhaps with less of a dictatorial leader next time. I think that the punishments were harsh but I do realize that some of the crimes were threatening the existence of fabledom. Though, the revolution did put some new thoughts in Snow’s head for taking over their homelands, which will probably look a lot like the revolution at the farm.

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  2. To me, the non-human Fables seemed less developed than the human Fables. I didn’t get as good of a sense of their personalities, and they felt more one dimensional. I’m not certain if that’s a difference in how they are portrayed or a function of the story though. In looking at each character as a suspect, victim or witness through the eyes of a detective, a lot of attention was given to their motivations and emotions. By contrast, the social revolution structure of the second volume cast most characters into a role and didn’t require them to have any depth to their character beyond that role. I’ll be interested to see if they’re given more layers in future volumes.

    I like the more cunning animals too, like Shere Khan and Reynard the Fox. I also really liked that some of the predators and cunning critters ended up on both sides of the revolution – it bothers me when all of a species is either good or bad, as if their traits can only be used in service of one cause. I get that it’s a shortcut, but it bothers me every time I see it done.

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    • I totally agree about many of the animal characters being one dimensional, as well as some of the human characters. A lot of characters, particularly the three bears, just served as a plot device. They didn’t really add or subtract from building up character roles and personalities and only served to further the plot. Willingham only developed these characters to serve this revolution, as you say, and in that sense I didn’t feel much about their fate other than it was harsh. I just didn’t connect to them, other than to Colin who had been in the previous volume. The only new character who seemed at all a bit multi-dimensional was Goldy. I do wonder what the reverberations of this revolution will be later on and how it will affect future volumes, if at all.
      Did your favorite character from the last volume remain your favorite in this one? Not many characters got a lot of screen play in this volume that we became acquainted with in the last one.

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      • I liked Rose more in this one than what we got to see of her in the last one. Granted, she didn’t show up on screen till the last pages, but faking your own death in an elaborate scam does make you a bit unlikeable. In this one though, the troubled relationship between siblings made her more relatable, and I thought she joined up to protect Snow from the first night. (Though I can buy Snow not figuring it out since we do tend to develop blind spots towards the significant people in our lives.)

        I wasn’t sure what to make of Goldy. She was a bit over the top crazy, and I’m not sure if she’s got more layers to discover or not. It also bothered me that it was the pigs they beheaded as punishment, with no mention of the bears who actually carried out the murder. Not that the pigs should be without punishment, since preaching the politics of revolution isn’t exactly without consequence. But it does seem like Goldy & the Bears were the ones who took it to the violence against Fables extreme, and were in charge by the time they were hunting down Snow.

        P.S. Did you still want to continue with the readthrough? I haven’t seen your discussion post for #3 yet, so I wasn’t sure. Since no one else is joining in, we can call it quits if you want to. I’ll hold off on starting #4 until I hear from you. And of course we were going to evaluate after #4 anyway to decide, so either way we’re close to where we set originally. How are you feeling about it all?

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      • I liked Rose more in this installment as well. She seemed a lot more relatable and Snow less so in a way. She had her rose colored glasses on for so much of this one. Goldy is just something else. I agree with you about the pigs. I wonder if it’s just a plot hole that the Bears were left out of the dialogue completely or if they’ll return at a later date? I’m interested to see Goldy return and what happens there.

        And I’m so sorry about not posting sooner. Work has had me swamped but I will be posting on Monday for the third book. I’m enjoying the series so far. I had hoped more people would jump in but it does seem like there are a lot of Fables lovers out there. I think we should keep it going a bit. What are your thoughts?

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      • Hmmm, you could be right about the Bears. Maybe they got away too – it didn’t really say either way. Seems like it would’ve shown that by now, but that would bother me less than just having them left out altogether.

        Yeah, work is swamping me too. (Hence the extremely slow response time.) Since it does seem to be just us, we could just go at our own pace. I’m kind of so-so on the series itself, but I’m loving the discussion with you. So I’ll keep reading to be able to keep the buddy read going. I might still be slow for a bit though, and it sounds like you’re in the same boat. So let’s just keep it relaxed and not stress if we’re a bit late on things.

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      • That sounds amazing!! I’m really loving the discussions as well! I am definitely in the same boat. Back to school has increased work load like nobody’s business. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on issue 4!

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