The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
A prize-winning boar named Major has a dream that he shares with the other animals of Manor Farm one night after the drunken farmer who owns the farm, Mr. Jones, has fallen asleep. Major advises the animals to reject misery and slavery and to rebel against Man, “the only real enemy we have.” The rebellion, on Midsummer’s Eve, drives Mr. Jones and his men off the farm.
Major draws up Seven Commandments of Animalism to govern the newly named Animal Farm, stipulating that “whoever goes on two legs is our enemy,” that “all animals are equal,” and that they shall not wear clothes, sleep in beds, drink alcohol, or kill any other animal. The pigs quickly assume a supervisory position to run the farm, and two of them, Snowball and Napoleon, become leaders after the death of old Major. Factions develop, and Napoleon conspires against Snowball after the animals defeat an attempt by Mr. Jones and the neighboring farmers to recover the farm at the Battle of the Cowshed.
Snowball is a brilliant debater and a visionary who wants to modernize the farm by building a windmill that will provide electrification. Two parties are formed, supporting “Snowball and the three-day week” and “Napoleon and the full manger.” Meanwhile, the pigs reserve special privileges for themselves, such as consuming milk and apples that are not shared with the others.
Napoleon raises nine pups to become his guard dogs. After they have grown, his...
(The entire section is 527 words.)
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Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Manor Farm. English farm at which the entire novel is set. When the novel opens, it is called Manor Farm and is run by a farmer named Jones. These names indicate that this farm stands for any farm, or any place, and that the entire novel should be read as an allegory. However, since Orwell wrote in the introduction to the Ukrainian edition that he wanted to expose the Soviet myth, Animal Farm also stands for the Soviet Union in particular. When the animals take over the farm, they rename it Animal Farm; when the pigs revert to the name Manor Farm in the final pages of the book, the complete failure of the animals’ revolution is indicated. No animal leaves the farm unless it is a traitor (Molly), declared an enemy of the state (Snowball), or sold to the enemy to be killed (Boxer). When they do leave, the animals rewrite history. Animal Farm is like the Soviet Union in having its own official history that serves the purposes of its rulers.
Orwell’s love of animals and his practice of raising his own vegetables and animals are clear in his loving description of the farm; his socialist politics come through in his sympathies with the animals as real workers and in his descriptions of the barn.
Farmhouse. House in which Jones originally lived. Like the farm, the farmhouse is perfectly ordinary, until the animals drive the humans from what the humans see as their rightful place. The farmhouse symbolizes the seat of government; no real work is done there. When the pigs move into the farmhouse, it...
(The entire section is 647 words.)
Chapter I Questions and Answers
1. What is the setting for the story?
2. What four characteristics are noted about Boxer the horse?
3. What comment does Benjamin the donkey make that shows his cynicism and bad temper?
4. How does Clover help the other animals at the meeting?
5. What does Old Major say is the reason the animals have such miserable lives?
6. What is Major’s prediction about Boxer.
7. What decision is made concerning the status of wild creatures such as rats and rabbits?
8. What is the name of the song Old Major teaches the animals?
9. What are the main ideas expressed in Major’s speech?
10. What indications...
(The entire section is 391 words.)
Chapter II Questions and Answers
1. What happens to Old Major?
2. Who are Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer?
3. What qualities do they each possess?
4. What are some of the problems the pigs have to face in organizing the other farm animals?
5. Who is Moses and what role does he play on the farm?
6. What is Sugarcandy Mountain?
7. What is the immediate cause of the Rebellion?
8. What are the immediate results of the Rebellion?
9. What are the Seven Commandments?
10. What early indication does Orwell give to show that not all of the animals are treated equally?
1. Old Major dies peacefully in his...
(The entire section is 396 words.)
Chapter III Questions and Answers
1. What is the result of the harvest after the Rebellion and why?
2. What part do the pigs play in the harvest?
3. What is Boxer’s personal motto?
4. What is the attitude of Mollie and the cat toward work on the farm?
5. What is Benjamin’s attitude after the rebellion?
6. What is Benjamin fond of saying and what does it mean?
7. What committees does Snowball organize on the farm?
8. What is the maxim that Snowball teaches the sheep?
9. How does Napoleon deal with “the education of the young”?
10. What happened to the milk taken from the cows, and how does Squealer explain this to the other...
(The entire section is 372 words.)
Chapter IV Questions and Answers
1. How does Mr. Jones spend most of his time after he is kicked off his farm?
2. Who is Mr. Pilkington and how does Orwell describe him?
3. Who is Mr. Frederick and how does Orwell describe him?
4. What is the typical relationship between these two men?
5. How do Foxwood Farm and Pinchfield Farm compare?
6. How do the farmers try to discredit what is happening on Animal Farm?
7. What is the cause of the Battle of the Cowshed?
8. What is Snowball’s role in the battle?
9. What part does Boxer play in the battle?
10. What are the results of the Battle of the Cowshed?
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapter V Questions and Answers
1. Why does Clover confront Mollie?
2. What happens to Mollie?
3. How does Napoleon use the sheep’s bleating of “Four legs good, two legs bad” to his advantage?
4. What does Snowball see for the animals as a result of building the windmill?
5. How does Napoleon show his disapproval of Snowball’s plans?
6. What is Benjamin’s opinion of the windmill?
7. What happens to Snowball?
8. What changes on Animal Farm does Napoleon announce to the animals?
9. How does Squealer explain these changes and Napoleon’s intent to build the windmill after all?
10. How does Squealer try to undermine...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Chapter VI Questions and Answers
1. How did the lives of the animals become more difficult in the beginning of Chapter VI?
2. How does Boxer deal with these new difficulties?
3. How do conditions on the farm under Napoleon’s leadership compare to when Jones was
4. Who is Mr. Whymper and why does he come to the farm?
5. How does Squealer address the animals’ concerns about engaging in trade with the humans?
6. What change occurs to the living conditions of the pigs?
7. What happens to the Fourth Commandment?
8. How does Squealer answer their questions concerning the Fourth Commandment?
9. What happens to the windmill?...
(The entire section is 460 words.)
Chapter VII Questions and Answers
1. How do the animals plan to prevent the second windmill from being destroyed?
2. Besides the work on the windmill, what other hardships do the animals have to face in Chapter VII?
3. How does Napoleon hope to prevent the outside world from finding out about the food shortages on Animal Farm?
4. What is the cause of concern among the chickens?
5. How do the hens react to Napoleon’s news about the eggs?
6. How does Napoleon deal with the Mutiny of the Hens and what are the results?
7. Besides the destruction of the windmill, for what other things is Snowball blamed?
8. What “news” does Squealer reveal about...
(The entire section is 637 words.)
Chapter VIII Questions and Answers
1. How does the Sixth Commandment change?
2. What are the titles invented for Napoleon?
3. What happens when Minimus composes the poem “Comrade Napoleon”?
4. What other confessions are made by animals in this chapter and what are the results?
5. What is the latest information Squealer reveals to the animals about Snowball?
6. What does Napoleon do with the woodpile?
7. How does Frederick cheat Napoleon?
8. What happens in the Battle of the Windmill?
9. Why does Squealer tell the animals that Napoleon is dying?
10. How is the Fifth Commandment changed?
(The entire section is 313 words.)
Chapter IX Questions and Answers
1. What is Boxer’s ambition after the Battle of the Windmill?
2. How do the animals’ lives become harder after the windmill is blown up?
3. How does Squealer convince them that their lives are
4. What is a “Spontaneous Demonstration”?
5. What new information does Squealer reveal about Snowball?
6. What purpose does Moses the raven’s return to the farm serve?
7. How do the pigs react to Moses’ return?
8. What happens to Boxer?
9. How does Squealer explain the events surrounding Boxer’s removal from the farm and his death?
10. Where do the pigs get the money to buy...
(The entire section is 458 words.)
Chapter X Questions and Answers
1. What happens to Mr. Jones?
2. How does the farm prosper in the years after Boxer’s death?
3. What kind of work do the pigs do on the now-prosperous farm?
4. What is the new slogan learned by the sheep and why?
5. What happens to the Seven Commandments?
6. What modern conveniences do the pigs enjoy after they learn to walk on two legs?
7. What observations has Mr. Pilkington made on his tour of Animal Farm?
8. What changes does Napoleon announce at his meeting with the humans?
9. What causes the fight between Napoleon and Pilkington?
10. What happens as the animals look into the farmhouse...
(The entire section is 408 words.)
Ideas for Group Discussions
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Discussion
Ideas for Reports and Papers
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
For Further Reference
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Gardner, Averil. George Orwell. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Gives information on Orwell at the time of writing Animal Farm and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of meaning and symbols as they apply to Russian history. Includes some criticism that Animal Farm received at its publication.
Hammond, J. R. A George Orwell Companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982. Features pictures of Orwell spanning his career and gives an extended reference to characters and events of Animal Farm as they compare to historical Russia. Considers the evolution of Orwellian philosophy through his novels and essays....
(The entire section is 229 words.)