Animal Farm by George Orwell

BACKGROUND

Even though the characters in this book are animals that can talk, don’t go thinking this is like the movie "Babe," with cute piglets and stuff. This is one of those books where the characters in the story "represent" some big political thing. Orwell was into political stuff. The novel has a lot in common with the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia when the poor people were fed up with the rich people and decided to kick their ass. The first leader of the poor people was Lenin. He wanted to make everyone equal, so that there would be no poor people and no rich people. Then Lenin died, and two guys battled to take his spot: Stalin and Trotsky. Eventually Stalin won and controlled the Communist Party: poor people. The rich people lost in the end. More than that particular historical event, Animal Farm is a warning about politics and society and greed.

MAIN CHARACTERS

Old Major: A wise pig whose ideas start the animal rebellion. He dies before it starts though.

Napoleon: A pig who fights to be the leader after Old Major dies.

Big Brother: He is not a person, and he’s not someone’s brother. He’s a mysterious person who is supposedly the leader of the party. His picture is all over the place on posters that say BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. Nobody has seen him in person, but everyone is scared of him and obeys him.

Snowball: A pig who fights to be the leader after Old Major dies.

Squealer: A pig who spreads propaganda; ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

Boxer and Clover: Two horses that are pretty dumb. All they do is work.

Mollie: A horse who leaves when the animals revolt.

Benjamin: A donkey who doesn’t believe in the animal revolution, but does his work anyway because he is devoted to his friend Boxer. He survives in the end.

Dogs: The animal police.

Sheep: They follow everyone.

Moses: A raven that tells stories.

The Pigeons: Messengers who travel beyond the farm to spread the word of the rebellion.

Farmer Jones: The guy who owns the farm.

Pilkington: A polite human.

Frederick: A jerky human.

Whymper: A human go-between for the animals and the humans.

PLOT

Manor Farm is owned by this drunken guy named Farmer Jones. He has many animals on this farm. One night, the farmer goes to bed drunk, and the animals have a meeting. This old pig named Old Major tells the other animals that he had this dream about men making animals their slaves. They then talk about how men use animals then kill them, and how all men are evil. They form a revolutionary group and agree that animals rock and that man is the enemy. The animals also learn a song called "Beasts of England" which is like their rebel anthem. Old Major dies after this, but the animals want to continue with his plan.

One night, Farmer Jones goes to bed and forgets to feed the animals. So the animals go into the barn to feed themselves. Farmer Jones finds them and whips them but the animals fight back. The men lose and they are chased off the farm. The animals then change the name of the farm to "Animal Farm," and write up some rules to live by.

The animals run the farm and do all the chores. Every Sunday they celebrate their rebellion. Then Farmer Jones and his men try to take the farm back from the animals, but the men get their asses kicked again. There’s a lot of tension between Napoleon and Snowball. Snowball wants to build a windmill but Napoleon doesn’t. So Napoleon tells his dogs to attack Snowball. Snowball survives and escapes the mean dogs. After Napoleon takes over the farm, he changes his mind and wants to build a windmill. There is a problem with the pigs, because they start to sleep in beds which violates the 4th commandment. But the pigs keep adding on stuff to the rules, so the new version reads "No animal shall sleep in a bed WITH SHEETS". A storm destroys the windmill. Napoleon blames it on Snowball. He then feels that snowball is a dirty traitor, and has been destroying lots of stuff on Animal Farm. So Napoleon gathers all the animals in the yard, then brings out some animals who he believes are traitors with Snowball. After they admit their crime, Napoleon’s dogs rip out their throats. The farmer next door, Mr. Frederick, tries to kill the animals and take over the farm. He blows up the windmill (after it was repaired) and kills many animals. But, once again, the animals win the fight.

Then begins the decline of Animal Farm. They break all of the animal rules, or change the rules so they can do certain things like drink. As years go by, many new animals come on the farm, and they slowly run out of food. To survive, the animals start to act more like humans: they walk on two legs, and wear clothes.

By the end of the book, the animals have no rules anymore, and the pigs start to have business dealings with human farmers.

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

CHAPTER 1

  • Farmer Jones comes home drunk.
  • Old Major has a dream and gives a long speech about how Man abuses animals and treats them like crap.
  • The pigs vote on whether all animals are their friends. They decide they are all friends.
  • Old Major creates his rules for animals.

CHAPTER 2

  • Farmer Jones neglects Animals.
  • They have a battle in the barn with the humans.
  • Old Major dies before he can see the animal victory.
  • The pigs learn to read and write.
  • Then they change the sign on the farm, so it reads "Animal Farm."
  • They then paint Old Major’s 7 animal rules on the wall.
  • 7 commandments of animalism:
    1. Whatever goes up on 2 legs is the enemy.
    2. Whatever has 4 legs or wings is a friend.
    3. No animals 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.

CHAPTER 3

  • The animals are happy because they are free. And because they are happy, they work harder and when they work harder, they get a big crop harvest.
  • The pigs become the leaders, and control everyone on the farm.
  • The pigs abuse their power by taking all the apples and milk and eating it themselves.
  • They say they all that stuff for their "brains."

CHAPTER 4

  • Farmer Jones tries to get his farm back by attacking the animals.
  • Napoleon is prepared for battle and the animals kick the crap out of Farmer Jones.
  • Snowball and Boxer are awarded medals for their bravery.

CHAPTER 5

  • Mollie the horse runs away to a human master.
  • Napoleon and Snowball have a clash over power.
  • Snowball has a plan to build a windmill to supply the farm with free electricity.
  • At a meeting where Snowball tells the animals about the windmill, Napoleon instructs the dogs to seize Snowball. Snowball escapes.
  • Napoleon becomes a dictator, and uses his guard dogs to scare the animals.
  • When Napoleon takes over, he decides to build the windmill. We learn that the plans for the windmill were originally Napoleon’s, but were stolen by Snowball.
  • The only reason Napoleon opposed Snowball’s windmill was because of his need for power.

CHAPTER 6

  • The windmill collapses during a storm.
  • Napoleon blames Snowball for the accident.
  • We learn that humans outside the farm hate the animals but respect their successful farm.
  • The pigs start acting like humans. They sleep in a bed in the farmhouse.
  • Napoleon believes the leader should have the best of everything, so he sleeps in the comfortable farmhouse.

CHAPTER 7

  • Times get worse on the farm. It’s cold, and there’s no food.
  • Napoleon forbids the "Beasts of England" song because it is a rebellion song, and they have already achieved that rebellion.
  • They are low on grain, so Napoleon has to sell the hen’s eggs to humans to buy more grain.
  • It is decided that Snowball is a traitor.
  • Napoleon calls a meeting and four pigs are exposed for being traitors with snowball. The dogs rip their throats out.
  • The dogs also attack Boxer the horse, but Boxer is strong and holds his own with the mutts.

CHAPTER 8

  • Napoleon becomes an absolute dictator.
  • He names that second battle the "Battle of the Windmill."

CHAPTER 9

  • When they rebuild the windmill, Boxer collapses.
  • We think Boxer is being taken to a hospital, but instead a van comes to take him to get slaughtered.
  • Napoleon makes up a lie to cover this up.
  • The pigs order whiskey from the humans and drink it.

CHAPTER 10

  • Years pass by, and animals come and go.
  • Napoleon is carrying a whip these days.
  • Only one of the original 7 rules is left on the wall and it has been changed: "ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS."
  • Humans come to visit the farm.
  • The pigs feel they are superior to all other animals and are on the same level with humans.
  • The pigs drink with the humans.

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • This book is an allegory. That means this book is not about some talking pigs on a farm.
  • They represent or "symbolize" a historical event.
  • The story could symbolize the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. All the characters would represent different political figures.
  • Although the ideas starting the revolution are good, the rulers are soon corrupted by their power.
  • The big theme in this book is leadership and revolution. When people are not happy with their leadership, they revolt. When leaders have absolute power, they become corrupt and oppressive.
  • A good phrase to use is: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • This is a story uses animals to reflect human issues and behavior. This book compares "types" of people to certain animals. There are sheep (followers), dogs (bullies) etc. People's behavior is like an animal’s behavior.