In Animal Farm, what does Old Major urge the animals to do?

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Old Major's instruction is given in chapter one during the meeting in the old barn. All the animals have assembled to hear what he has to stay. The key point of his directive is that the animals should rise up against Man and be rid of him forever. He provides a number of reasons why this is important:

  • The animals' lives are miserable, laborious and short.
  • Animals are incessantly abused and exploited.
  • Once they have become useless, the animals are ruthlessly killed.
  • Animals are trapped and live in misery and slavery.
  • Their terrible circumstances are unnatural.
  • Man is responsible for their torment and is their greatest enemy.
  • Man's tyrannical rule should be brought to an end.
  • Once the animals control their own destiny, their lives would improve.

Old Major makes it clear that the animals should not allow anything or anyone to sway them from their resolve. They must be single-minded in their purpose and know that they are all comrades who share a common enemy -- Man. He states, furthermore, that animals must not adopt Man's evil habits and come to resemble him. In addition, they must know that all animals are equal.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During his speech in Chapter One of Animal Farm, Old Major urges the animals to rise up against their human master (Mr Jones) and take the farm for themselves:

"What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!"

This instruction is based on Old Major's belief that humans are responsible for the hard and short lives of animals. According to his observations, humans force the animals to work and give away their produce (like milk and eggs). Humans also prevent the animals from reaching their "natural span" through the cruel practice of slaughter.

Because of this exploitative relationship, Old Major is certain that rebellion is imminent, though he is not sure exactly when the animals will rise up against their human masters. His message, however, is one of hope and inspiration which leads directly to the overthrow of Mr Jones in Chapter Two.