In Animal Farm, how are the animals motivated by basic necessities such as food and rest?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Animal Farm, Old Major has inspired the animals to strive for a better life because he claims that "the life of an animal is misery and slavery." The animals work hard but are only fed enough to stop them from starving and they are worked extremely hard. An important quote from chapter one which supports the argument that the animals are motivated by basic necessities such as food and rest can be found during Old Major's speech when he suggests that the rebellion is the only way to ensure better conditions and a brighter future. He says, "Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever." The "riches" that Old Major sings about in Beasts of England are not material wealth but "wheat and barley, oats and hay..."

The animals have so much trust in the anticipated well-meaning of the pigs and the foundations of Animalism that they do not suspect anything when things begin to change and the pigs appear to adopt those very habits that Old Major warned the animals about. In chapter five, many of the animals favor Snowball's proposed three-day week but some like Napoleon's idea of the "full manger" which means the animals are divided but still their motivations are food and rest, whether sooner or later.

By chapter six, Napoleon's bullying is evident and the animals are completely overworked and have their rations halved if they refuse to work on Sundays. However, because the animals know it is for their own benefit in the long run, they do not complain. For the time being, it is enough for the animals that they at least do not have less food than they had when Jones was in charge and they dream of how life will be with the windmill completed. When it is destroyed, apparently by Snowball, Napoleon offers a half-bushel or even a bushel of apples for his capture.

By chapter 7, the farm is in trouble and the animals are near starvation. Napoleon uses scare tactics to motivate the animals. Boxer feels responsible for some of the difficulties and proposes to work even harder. However, the work on the windmill (chapter 8) is a huge success to date and the thought of how it will allow for an abundance of food and more relaxation once it is completely finished motivates the animals despite their exhaustion.  

Life does not improve for the animals but they no longer recall life under Jones. They only know that it is better because Squealer tells them so. They do not give up hope of a life where they will have an abundance of food and enough rest but when the pigs emerge walking on two legs and "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others" it is apparent that the concept of Animalism has been abandoned. The animals had never wanted human luxuries but the pigs had had other ideas.