Animal Farm Additional Summary

George Orwell

Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

George Orwell says of Animal Farm, a novel subtitled A Fairy Story, that it was the first book in which he tried, with “full consciousness” of what he was doing, “to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.” Set at Manor Farm, run by Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Animal Farm begins with a sketch of farm life from the perspective of the animals. Jones, who drinks excessively, and his nondescript wife do little to care for the animals while living off the animals’ labor. It is old Major, the prize Middle White boar, who speaks in his old age of better times when the animals will set their own laws and enjoy the products of their labor. He tells the farm animals, “All the habits of Man are evil,” and he warns them to avoid human vices, such as living in houses, sleeping in beds, wearing clothes, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, touching money, and engaging in trade. It is old Major who leads the farm animals in their first song of solidarity, which they sing so loudly that they wake the Joneses. Jones, hearing the ruckus and assuming that a fox is responsible for it, fires shots into the darkness and disperses the animals. Three nights later, old Major dies peacefully in his sleep. With him dies the selfless belief system needed to enact his vision.

As old Major has predicted, the overthrow of the Joneses and Manor Farm occurs. Jones, increasingly incapacitated by alcohol, neglects the animals and the fields and finally leaves the animals to starve. In their desperation, the starving animals attack Jones and drive him off Manor Farm. Mrs. Jones flees by another way. Though the humans have been overthrown, it is not harmony but a lengthy power struggle that follows.

In this power struggle, essentially between the two young boars Snowball and Napoleon, one sees at first a sort of idealism, especially in Snowball, who speaks of a system that sounds much like Orwell’s particular vision of “democratic Socialism.” The animals begin by renaming Manor Farm as Animal Farm and by putting into print their seven commandments, designed primarily to identify their tenets and to discourage human vices among themselves. At first, the new order almost appears to work: “Nobody stole, nobody grumbled. . . . Nobody shirked—or almost nobody.”...

(The entire section is 941 words.)

Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Old Major calls a meeting as soon as Mr. Jones goes to sleep. Jones, who is cruel to his animals, is drinking excessively of late. When all the animals are gathered, Major begins to speak. He had a dream in which he remembers the song Beasts of England from his distant past. He teaches it to the others and tells them they should rise up to defeat Jones and do their work for themselves, for their own benefit. He says that all men are evil and that all animals are good and equal.

Three days after telling his dream, Major dies. Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer develop Major’s teachings into a system called Animalism. The rebellion comes quickly and suddenly after Jones was drinking in town. When he returns home, the animals run him and the other humans off the farm. The animals can hardly believe their good fortune. Napoleon leads them back to the barn, where everyone is served extra food to celebrate.

In preparation for the rebellion, the pigs learned to read and write. One day, the pigs write the seven commandments of Animalism on the wall of the barn. It is realized that, since the rebellion, the cows have not been milked. The pigs manage to do it, but the five buckets of milk vanish while the other animals are out working.

The animals set forth to harvest the hay crop. They do this faster than it was ever done, but the pigs do not do any actual work, they hold a supervisory position. Boxer, the cart horse, is the hardest worker and the quickest to follow the rules set up by the pigs. “I will work harder” is his maxim and his motto; under any difficult circumstance, he always repeats it. Benjamin, the donkey, is the only animal that is unchanged since the rebellion. He works in the same obstinate way that he always has, doing his share and no more. Napoleon and Snowball oppose each other at every juncture at which decisions are made. Snowball begins committees for the adults while Napoleon takes puppies away from their parents, to educate them and to keep them in a special loft of the barn where no one else is allowed to go.

Jones and other humans attempt to take back Animal Farm but they are unsuccessful. In the battle, Snowball leads the forces and is wounded by a shotgun. Snowball manages to rid Jones of his gun, and Boxer kicks a boy. This is named the “Battle of the Cowshed” and is a success for the...

(The entire section is 972 words.)

Summary

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Because Animal Farm is a thoroughgoing allegory, either specifically of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath or, more generally, of the dangers of any political revolution, it is two stories at once: the surface plot story of the events leading up to and following the revolt of a group of farm animals against their human oppressor, and the underlying conceptual story of political revolution for which the surface story stands.

The surface story begins almost immediately with the beast fable convention that animals can think, talk, and feel, as the animals gather together to hear the dream of revolution by the old pig, Major. After Major reminds the animals of their oppressed life, he incites them to revolution by telling them that all the evils they experience spring from man, the only creature that consumes without producing. Shortly after laying down the rules of what he proposes to be a new order, old Major dies peacefully in his sleep.

The pigs, the cleverest of the animals on the farm, develop Major’s teachings into a coherent system which they call Animalism and which they secretly teach to the rest of the animals in preparation for the revolution which the Major has foretold. Rather than as the result of a conscious and prearranged effort, the rebellion, when it comes a few months later, develops as a result of hunger and neglect caused by Mr. Jones. The animals break into the food shed and drive the farmer and his wife off the land. Immediately thereafter, in a series of acts of comradeship, the animals change the name of the farm from Manor Farm to Animal Farm and list Seven Commandments on the barn wall, which the pigs have developed from the teachings of old Major. Basically, the Commandments suggest that whatever is human is an enemy, that whatever is animal is a friend, and that all animals are equal. The first indication that all are not equal, however, occurs when the pigs set themselves up as the leaders and take for themselves the milk usually mixed with the...

(The entire section is 826 words.)

Summary

(Novels for Students)

Chapter I
As Animal Farm opens, Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is drunkenly heading to bed. The animals gather in...

(The entire section is 1236 words.)