Animal Farm is an analogy for communism as it was practiced in the Soviet Union, and so there are many parallels between real events and the events of the novel. The animals were initially united in their opposition to the farmer and mankind in general (just as communism was united in its opposition to capitalism), but the inequities of communism quickly make themselves apparent. As the pigs (communist leadership) begin to enjoy advantages over the other animals, the animals begin to resent and resist their leadership; the once-glorious rebellion was little more than an exchange of masters. However, much of this rebelliousness is in thought and word only; the animals have long since learned that open rebellion results in immediate punishment, or are so crippled by doubt that they no longer trust their own memories.
Thus "rebellion" tends to be tepid and cautious, and almost immediately countered by Squealer's propaganda.
Instances of rebellion against the pigs include;
- Rebellion of the hens. When Napoleon decides to sell their eggs, which had been specifically cited as a human evil that Animal Farm would not engage in, the hens rebel. They have their food rations cut entirely, and several die before they agree to Napoleon's demands.
- Clover, not realizing the incompatibility of her thoughts, considers that the farm is not the place she and the other animals fought for, yet she will remain loyal to it. If she had spoken this, or the pigs learned of her feelings, they would surely have treated this as a traitorous thought, such as when Napoleon attempted to kill Boxer for remembering the laws of Animal Farm as they were originally written.
- Benjamin calls the animals away from their work to see that Boxer is being taken away, and decries the other animals as "fools!" for not seeing that the van actually belongs to a glue-maker.