Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on December 9, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 982

Summary

Three days after his speech, Old Major dies in his sleep. For the next few months, the pigs make preparations for the rebellion. These efforts are led by the two most eminent pigs: Snowball and Napoleon. Snowball is considered vivacious and inventive, while Napoleon is quieter but has a reputation for getting his way. A third pig named Squealer assists Snowball and Napoleon. Squealer is very persuasive, and the other animals like to say that he can “turn black into white.”

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The pigs distill Old Major’s teachings into a theory that they call “Animalism.” Every week, the pigs hold several meetings in which they try to teach Animalism to the rest of the farm. At first, many of the animals are apathetic or struggle against an ingrained sense of loyalty to Mr. Jones. The pigs’ task is made even harder by Moses, a raven who tells the animals about a paradise called Sugarcandy Mountain, where they will go when they die. Though the animals dislike Moses because he does no labor, the pigs still have to work hard to persuade several of them that Sugarcandy Mountain is not real. The two cart horses, Boxer and Clover, have difficulty thinking for themselves but easily absorb the teachings of the pigs and help relate them simplistically to the other animals. Meanwhile, Mollie, a white mare, shows some resistance to Animalism, asking whether she will get to wear ribbons and eat sugar cubes when Mr. Jones is gone.

The rebellion comes sooner than any of the animals expected as Mr. Jones begins drinking even more and neglecting his duties on the farm. One day, the animals break into the store shed to help themselves because Mr. Jones has forgotten to feed them for a whole day. When Mr. Jones realizes what they have done, he assembles his men and they close in on the animals with whips. Enraged by this injustice, the animals all at once begin to attack, forcing Mr. Jones and the men to flee the farm. Mrs. Jones spies the commotion from the farmhouse and slips away quietly. Locking the gate after the men, the animals run excitedly through the farm. They immediately begin to dismantle man’s tools of oppression, making a burn pile of whips, bridles, reins, halters, and decorative ribbons.

When the animals wake the next morning, they decide to enter the farmhouse. After touring it, they unanimously vote that it should be preserved as a museum and that no animal should be allowed to live there. The pigs, revealing that they have taught themselves to read and write, repaint the “MANOR FARM” sign to read “ANIMAL FARM.” The pigs then explain that they have reduced Animalism to seven basic commandments:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

The pigs paint these commandments in large letters upon the barn wall, and the cleverest animals quickly learn them by heart. The pigs milk the cows, and the animals ask what will be done with the milk, hopefully remarking that Mr. Jones used to occasionally mix the milk into their mash. Napoleon tells them not to worry about the milk and instructs them to follow Snowball into the field to finish the harvest, saying that he will join them soon. When the animals return from the fields, the milk is gone.

Analysis

Orwell’s allegory for the Russian Revolution is expanded in this chapter. Manor Farm represents Russia under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II (Mr. Jones), and the animals’ rebellion parallels the revolution that finally overthrew the monarchy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union (Animal Farm). Boxer and Clover exemplify the Russian peasantry who believed in the ideals of the revolution and its leaders unconditionally. Mollie, the spoiled mare, represents the members of the Russian bourgeoisie (the materialistic middle and upper classes) whose only allegiance was to those who would ensure their comfortable lifestyle.

Moses, a raven, represents the Russian Orthodox Church, and the bread that Mr. Jones gives Moses reflects the bribes that were often given to the church by the royal family. At the time of the revolution, Communist leaders felt that the Church’s promises of heaven undermined the revolutionary energy of the peasantry, which explains why the pigs work so hard to dispel Moses’s talk of Sugarcandy Mountain. Animalism represents the theory of communism, which emphasizes equality, especially in economic terms. Two revolutionary leaders, Napoleon and Snowball, have emerged from among the pigs, paralleling two real-life leaders of the Communist Party, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. As the novel progresses, we will see that Squealer, the extremely persuasive pig, comes to represent the propaganda arm of Stalin’s government.

Just as in the Russian Revolution, the power on Animal Farm is quickly consolidated among a small, intelligent ruling class. Despite the commandment that “all animals are equal,” it is already clear that the pigs, being the cleverest animals on the farm, are acting as the leaders, rather than the equals, of the other animals. The pigs further their advantages over the others by learning to read and write in secret and then deciding upon the “commandments” of Animalism without consulting with the rest of the farm. Though the pigs appear to be acting in the best interest of the animals, the disappearance of the milk while the rest of the animals are out working in the field demonstrates the pigs’ susceptibility to corruption and greed. Notably, Napoleon makes Snowball lead the animals to the field before (presumably) drinking the milk himself. This manipulation foreshadows future conflict and power struggles between the idealistic and trusting Snowball and the scheming, manipulative Napoleon.

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Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

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Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis