How does Old Major describe men in Animal Farm?

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In chapter one of Animal Farm, we find Old Major getting all the animals together after Mr. Jones has gone to bed for the night. Old Major lets it be known that he had a dream and wants to tell the other animals about it. Old Major is a pig that is twelve years old and known for being full of wisdom. The other animals look up to him and respect what he has to say. At first Old Major describes their situation and how horrible it is for them.

"Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after the he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth."

Old Major is very upset about what he sees happening to the animals on the farm. He thinks all animals are treated this way and Old Major knows exactly who is to blame for their unhappiness—Man.

"Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin." 

Old Major then tells the animals that they have to get rid of the humans and run the farm themselves. Old Major has a very clear image of what he thinks man is. He is convinced that man is the reason for all of their problems and misery. Little does he know he is creating war between the animals.

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