Today I had the opportunity to read Fergus goes quackers. It is a tale that is short in stature yet carries a strong and shocking message.
We start with Fergus who is on his way home and looking forward to sleeping in his new kennel. Already we see that Fergus is obsessed with capitalism. I'm sure the original kennel was perfectly fine but no, Fergus had to get a new kennel and we must imagine that its simply because he could.
On his way home he is approached and followed by five ducklings. Like any good self-obsessed capitalist at first he encourages them to go away. When this doesn't work he keeps walking and refuses to acknowledge its existance. As we all know if you can't see the problem then it doesn't exist.
These ducklings are innocent and naive. We don't know what they have been through or why they have chosen to approach Fergus. We can only assume that it is a cry for help.
Eventually they all go back to Fergus'luxury kennel. This is an obvious sign that Fergus is obsessed with wealth and material gains, why else would he be in ownership of a kennel that sleeps six? Fergus is single and there is no mention of a significant other.
The details of what took place that night are not mentioned in the book. Whatever it was, come the morning the ducklings have been so overwhelmed by Fergus' decadance that they have come to believe that the key to success in life is to emulate him. They show their regard by barking like Fergus instead of their usual quacking.
Here, Fergus'conservative nature comes straight to the fore. He disapproves of this expression of free speech. These are mere peasants who he has allowed to stay at his home. He shows them hospitality and they return the favour by acting above their station. This will simply not do.
Fergus displays his authority by loudly correcting the ducklings, but still reeling from the stupor of the previous night they continue to revel in the frenzy.
At this point the message of the author is starting to become clearer, but he feels the need to make it just that bit more obvious. Enter the pigs.
The pigs hear the cry of the ducklings and decide to use this for their own goals. The pigs use the ducklings as a figurehead for their own agenda. Social revolution ensues. This is an obvious link to the pigs of animal farm. Pigs have long been known as the troublemakers of the farmyard and are a prime example of the danger of having intelligence without the breeding to direct it in the correct manner. This also adds validity to the author by referencing animal farm, although the message he is purveying is completely at odds with that of the novel mentioned.
Back to the story and Fergus has literally gone quackers. The message of the pigs has spread across the farmyard and all the animals are in a state of fervor. For some its a bit of fun, for some a chance to be heard and for others a last desperate chance to free themselves from oppression. Sadly it's one that's doomed to fail.
A tension grips the story. Fergus is large and powerful, he's a dog of means and by his own values meaning. Why else would he have a new luxury kennel? He believes himself to be socially superior it's only a matter of time before he takes matters into his own hands. He bends the other animals into the roles his vision of society demands. This is not a farmyard that encourages personal aspirations. The fuse is burning down the farmyard powderkeg. If Fergus snaps its likely a duckling will be the first victim of his fury. Protest could descend into rioting and chaos..
In classic greek style the dues ex machina arrives to resolve the situation.
The farmer shows up in a honking of horns. The metaphorical riot police arrive, guns a'blazing with malice in their eyes. A silence overcomes the crowd as they back down. A they're overcome they see their one brief chance for freedom evaporating. Their attempy to fly to the sun has left them burnt with failure and they will never attempt to better themselves again.
Yet what of Fergus? He was after the all the instigator of this riot with his police state ways. It can't be denied that his heavy handed actions were the catalyst for these events? Surely he must face some kind of punishment?!
Of course not! Fergus is a powerful and monied landowner, a trusted ally of the govening farmer. It's unthinkable that he can take any kind of blame for what happened. Should we conclude the government simply believe's Fergus too big to fail?
It seems that the answer to that is yes, Fergus is too big to fail. The farmer already has the spin prepared. Fergus was responsible for locating five missing ducklings. Five young easily influenced individuals who were lucky enough to be given shelter by Fergus and taken to a place of safety, shielded from what could in this day and age have been a dark and dolorous night on the streets. Fergus is a hero so therefore his actions cannot be wrong. They wouldn't be endorsed by the farmer if they were, right?!
To conclude, Fergus carries on as he pleases and the lesser animals are beaten back down into their place. The farmyard is a place of voiceless despair and lost dreams. Only the wealthy or the well connected enjoy the benefits it has to offer.
Fergus may have gone quackers, but its not him who's suffering for his madness.