In chapter one, Old Major, Mr. Jones's prize-winning boar and the most respected animal on the farm, called a meeting with all the animals in the big barn so he could share a strange dream he had with them.
Once all the animals were gathered, the old boar addressed them and told them that before communicating the dream to them, he had something more pertinent to share. He told them he did not expect to be with them much longer but that he had had occasion to reflect and wanted to share his thoughts with them.
Major informed his attentive audience that their lives were difficult and short. They were essentially slaves, exploited by Man for his own benefit. Old Major claimed that animals could not enjoy the fruits of their own labor and were abused and miserable. He categorically stated,
Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.
He then mentioned a few other examples of Man's abuse and exploitation, stating how ruthless Mr. Jones was in dealing with them. No animal lived the full span of his or her life, and was instead murdered by Man before retirement. Once an animal's use was over, Man got rid of him.
As a solution, Major proposed Rebellion. The animals had to stand up against Man and drive him off. Nothing must stop them from their resolve, and they should not give up. He advised that once Man is removed, the animals should not adopt mankind's vices. The animals should be unified and should never discriminate against one another.
In conclusion, Major shared the dream with them: he dreamed about a song animals had sung when he was still young. He then proceeded to teach the animals the lyrics and tune of the song "Beasts of England." The animals were so taken in by the song that each one of them, without exception, loudly sang it five times in succession.
Mr. Jones woke to the uproar and fired a shot into the darkness, causing the animals to disperse immediately, each fleeing to his or her own sleeping place.
Old Major calls the meeting to share with the animals his dream of a utopian society without man. He believes that man is the cause of all the problems animals face, and without him, animals would be able to live freely and in comfort to the ends of their natural lives. Old Major teaches the animals a revolutionary anthem entitled Beasts of England, and urges them to rise up against their oppressors and chase them away. Once the animals have released themselves of the dominion of man, Old Major outlines the principles by which they should live. He warns the animals passionately that, in their struggle against man's tyranny, they should be careful never to become like him - they should "never live in a house, or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade...no animal must ever kill any other animal...all animals are equal" (Chapter 1).