Animal Farm Summary
Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegorical novel about the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism. It tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against the farm owner and build their own society.
- In the beginning, a boar named Old Major encourages the animals of Manor Farm to rebel against the humans.
- After Old Major dies, two other pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, lead the rebellion by driving the farmer Mr. Jones away and renaming the farm Animal Farm.
- Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm and assumes the role that Mr. Jones once held.
Animal Farm begins on Manor Farm in England. After Mr. Jones, the neglectful owner of the farm, has drunkenly shut the animals away and gone to sleep, the animals all assemble in the barn to hear a respected boar named Old Major speak. Old Major proceeds to share his dream of a world without men, one ruled by animals. He points out that all of the suffering endured by the animals is the result of man. Mr. Jones forces the animals to work too hard and then steals the products of their labor. Furthermore, the animals all know that Mr. Jones does not value their lives and will mercilessly slaughter each and every one of them once they have outlived their usefulness. Old Major tells the animals that their lives would be much better if they could overthrow man and find freedom. He cautions them, however, that if they should ever overthrow their human masters, they must take precautions against acting like humans themselves and should remember to treat all animals as equals.
Three days later, Old Major dies and the animals begin to prepare for the rebellion. The preparations are led by the pigs, who are the cleverest animals on the farm. Two pigs in particular—Snowball and Napoleon—take on leadership roles and are aided by Squealer, an extremely persuasive pig. The pigs turn Old Major’s speech into a philosophy, which they call “Animalism.” They then hold weekly meetings to teach the rest of the animals about Animalism, though they find the animals are easily distracted by Moses, a raven who likes to tell the animals about a place called Sugarcandy Mountain where animals go when they die. The rebellion comes sooner than expected when Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals and then attacks them when he sees them helping themselves. Incensed, the animals drive Mr. Jones and his men off the farm and take over, changing the name to Animal Farm. The pigs paint the principles of Animalism on the barn wall. There are seven commandments in total, and each one comes from Old Major’s speech to the animals.
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 animals are eager to prove themselves a success and complete the harvest more quickly and efficiently than their former human master could ever have done. Most of the animals believe strongly in Animalism and work very hard to do their part for the farm. However, there are troubling indicators that not all the animals are being treated equally. The pigs, being the cleverest of the animals, quickly become the permanent leaders of the farm. Despite the fact that they supervise the farm work instead of performing any labor themselves, the pigs begin claiming extra rations in the form of milk and apples. This seemingly unequal treatment is easily explained away by Squealer, who warns the animals that Mr. Jones might return if the pigs are not given what they need to run the farm successfully. Soon after, Mr. Jones really does return in an effort to recapture the farm. Snowball has been studying military tactics and successfully commands the animals to victory in what the animals later call the “Battle of Cowshed.”
As time goes by, the pigs remain in a leadership position, though the other animals still...
(The entire section is 1,632 words.)