Animal Farm Book Report
In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to all of his wonderful animals. Obviously, most of the chapter is intended to spark pity and a sense of sympathy for the poor, suffering farm animals, but the old Major’s words are very telling. The wise old pig addresses the central conflict of the book, and of Orwell’s intended meaning– tyranny. The first (and seemingly only) dictatorship the animals must overcome is the rule of Mr. Jones and the other humans.
The boar asserts Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever. Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plow, and he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. The speech, as intended, is very inspiring and encouraging to the tired, troubled farm animals.
They even sing the words to old Major’s dream five times in succession before Mr. Jones blasts the side of the barn with a shotgun. Unfortunately for the animals, the old Major’s naivety is not revealed. The ideal society he proposes is of course only an ideal– but the animals don’t know this. Perhaps even the old sow himself is too caught up in emotion to understand the complexities of the solution he submits.
Old Major does know a few things though. He boldly warns all of them, Your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and animals have a common interest….we must not come to resemble him…No animals must ever live in a house or sleep in a bed, wear clothes, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, touch money, or engage in trade. Ironically, Napoleon isn’t present to hear the words of this prophet.
The future only seems optimistic; even old Major seems content. Little does he know, the foreshadowing of his comments seems almost too obvious to the mindful reader. Toward the end of the section, the animals vote on whether wild animals, like rats and rabbits, are going to be considered their friends or foes. They overwhelmingly agree that the rats and rabbits are to be friends, although Orwell doesn’t say why. Chapter 2 (pgs.25-34) The second chapter is drenched with metaphors— most of which will not come to light until later in the novel. The first is old Major’s death.
This represents the end of the older regime, the initial revolution. Now someone else will have to step into authority. Secondly, Orwell strangely describes a pig named Squealer. The name sounds fairly pig-like but his actions don’t. Supposedly Squealer has a special ability to persuade others. Orwell boasts, …he could turn black into white. Obviously, a pig like this could be used by the right people (animals).
Next, the author tells us about a peculiar raven named Moses, who is the special pet of Mr. Jones. All the animals consider him a spy and hate him; they say he tells lies about Sugarcandy Mountain and does no work. Boxer and Clover, two cart horses, are described as the most faithful disciples of Snowball and Napoleon. Although they lack the intelligence of the pigs they serve, the horses can convince other animals to follow the cause using simple arguments.
Orwell uses chapter 2 to really make Mr. Jones into a bad guy, although he admits that he was at one time a good master. Mr. Jones’ main problem is that he drinks too much and neglects the farm. Even his men are idle and dishonest. Soon the animals are fed up with Jones (pardon the pun) after not being fed for over a day, so they organize and successfully carry out the long-awaited revolt.
The animals rename Manor Farm Animal Farm yet agree not to live in the house. Yet some of the elite pigs have already adopted some of Man’s ways; Snowball and Napoleon have suddenly taught themselves to read and write, and soon a list of 7 Commandments is written on the tarred wall. Unfortunately, only a few of the animals can actually read the rules. This will come back to haunt them later.
Orwell again closes with an eerie foreshadowing. After Snowball and Napoleon order the animals to work in the hay field, the milk which many of the lower animals asked to drink mysteriously disappears. Napoleon, however, dismisses the milk plea by proclaiming, The harvest is more important.
Chapter 3 (pgs.35-43) Chapter 3 is uneventful for the most part although it does have a few more important metaphors. For one thing, the pigs are starting to emerge as the elite class of animals although all animals are supposed to be equal. Orwell narrates, The pigs did not actually work but directed and supervised the others. Of course, the rationale is classic and easy to see through. Orwell continues, With their superior knowledge, it was natural that they should assume the leadership. The not-so-hidden metaphor here is evidence of a decline in standards. In other words, though you might think to yourself, Gee, who cares if the pigs supervise? It’s only natural, like Squealer said, really that is exactly what Orwell wants you to think. One of his major messages is the idea that a few little white lies here and there do add up to a serious wrong.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Most of the rest of this chapter is optimistic. The animals do for the most part live in Orwell’s ideal society of socialism. Nobody stole, nobody grumbled over his rations, and the quarreling and biting and jealousy which had been normal features of life in the old days had almost disappeared. Two more characters were described in detail. Boxer, the loyal horse is said to be the hardest worker.
His answer to every problem, every setback, is ‘I will work harder!’ Old Benjamin, the donkey, is said to have changed his lifestyle little since the revolt. He seems indifferent to the whole thing. He says, Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey. Mollie is the only animal who doesn’t seem to fit in. She’s always thinking about how she looks, etc. She only learns the letters in her name, unlike the others, who energetically learn the whole alphabet. Of course, some learn better than others.
The dogs and pigs know the most. Some of them are even learning blacksmithing and other human trades. Snowball and Napoleon start to fight and argue over everything. Both pigs enjoy the apples and milk only given to them. Of course, this is just in the farm’s best interest. Really pigs don’t like the taste of milk and apples but force it down in order to stay healthy and help supervise (haha).
Chapter 4 (pgs.44-50) The fourth chapter is a look into the outside world. This is really more or less a reality check after so much narrative about the utopian lifestyle of Animal Farm. The passage does clear up a few questions any inquisitive reader would have about the outside world. I mean, wouldn’t you think that the other neighboring farmers might think something’s up if one day they see a bunch of pigs supervising horses plow a field? Anyway, Orwell explains, It was lucky that the owners of the two farms which adjoined Animal Farm were on permanently bad terms.
Anyone considering the allegorical significance of Foxwood and Pinchfield might guess that they are really just deep metaphors for the nations bordering Russia. (More on this in the metaphor profile section–click on side links.) Anyway, these farmers just shrug off the animal rule as a gimmick and don’t think much of it until they realized that the animals are actually being more productive than Jones had been.
They also get a little nervous when they realize that the Animal Farm pigeons have gone to neighboring farms, teaching other animals the Beasts of England song and encouraging them to revolt. So the farmer’s next strategy is to criticize the farm, saying that the animals practiced cannibalism, tortured one another with red-hot horseshoes, and had their females in common.
This symbolizes the outcry of America and other Western nations during the beginning stages of the cold war. Ridicule was really the only tactic they had left after being scared to death by the Soviet powers after World War II. The real action in the chapter is when Jones and his men try to recapture the farm. Napoleon and his pig allies had long expected this to happen, so they plan a very extensive defense strategy. When the Jones crew attacked, they were gored, kicked, bitten, and trampled on. So many of the men die, thus concluding the Battle of the Cowshed.
The final metaphor is the reference to the shotgun of Mr. Jones. Really this part of the allegory is pretty neat. The pigs decide to prop the gun up, pointing it toward the gate from which Mr. Jones and his men attacked. In Russian terms, the gun may represent the Soviet decision to begin making nuclear weapons to later use on the United States.
Chapter (pgs.51-62) Orwell’s fifth chapter is an action-packed tale of two animals who leave the farm. First Mollie, who never was too fond of the whole idea of revolution since it meant she wouldn’t have any more sugar lumps, is seen talking to a neighbor man and letting him stroke her nose. When confronted by Clover, she denies it, then runs away forever. None of the other animals ever mentioned Mollie again. Next, Orwell again addresses the enmity between Snowball and Napoleon. This time the two are arguing over Snowball’s plan to build a windmill. But during the debate, something terrible happens.
Instead of letting the animals decide whether or not to build the structure, Napoleon signals his private troop of attack dogs who chase Snowball off the stage and under the fence, never to be seen again. Soon Squealer is sent in to convince the animals that Napoleon really is a good leader, even though he tries to kill those who oppose him. Then he attempts to drum up more support for Napoleon with this propaganda: Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal.
He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? The classic hypocrisy seen here is too hard to miss. If all animals are really equal, then wouldn’t it be just as likely that Napoleon might make a mistake? Wouldn’t it be easier to make the right decision when all the animals are collaborating instead of placing their lives in the hands of a tyrant? Besides who did Mr. Jones turn into anyway? Chapter 6 (pgs.63-72)
Chapter 6 is a series of foreshadows. The first involves, of course, Napoleon. This time he is beginning to trade with the neighboring farmers, Foxwood and Stinchfield. The necessity comes from materials only humans can make. Nevertheless, the picture-perfect world the animals imagined had no conflicts like this. I mean, who could have imagined that Boxer might need new horseshoes? Well, ok maybe the animals were being naive.
Anyway, Napoleon decides that he will conduct trade with the outside world. But some of the animals think that maybe this was once forbidden. Orwell explains, Once again the animals were conscious of a vague uneasiness.
Never to have any dealings with human beings, never to engage in trade, never to make use of money— had not these been among the earliest resolutions passed at the first triumphant Meeting when Jones was expelled? All the animals remembered passing such a resolution, or at least they thought that they remembered it.
The four young pigs who had protested when Napoleon abolished the Meetings raised their voices timidly, but they were promptly silenced by a tremendous growling from the dogs. Soon the animals have more reason to be uneasy. They notice that the pigs have recently begun to sleep in beds, which, of course, is one of the forbidden associations with humans. Muriel reads the commandments to the confused Clover from the barn wall and notices that one of them has been altered. Now it reads, No animals shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
Again, Orwell explains, Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so. Of course, Clover, the unsuspecting loyalist of Napoleon, simply thinks that everything is innocent. Toward the end of the reading, the windmill, which was Snowball’s idea stolen by Napoleon, mysteriously collapses in the middle of the night.
Of course, all the animals are upset that such a terrible event could make worthless the object for which they had labored so long. Napoleon and Squealer completely blame Snowball with no hesitation. Chapter 7 continues Orwell’s portrayal of the animals’ plight. Animal Farm has seemed to have fallen on hard times. The crops are not as bountiful as before and the pigs are increasingly forced to trade with the outside world in order to get many of the supplies they need. …Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store shed to be filled nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained of the grain and meal.
On some suitable pretext, Whymper was led through the store shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was deceived and continued to report to the outside world that there was no food shortage on Animal Farm. As Napoleon was deceiving the neighboring farmers he was also tricking his own animals. The scapegoat was again Snowball. Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. In fact, many of the claims begin to sound ridiculous to the objective mind. Of course, Squealer’s mission is to keep everything subjective in the minds of the animals.
The cornerstone of this chapter is the savage act of Napoleon. Bothered by their consciousness, many animals come forward saying they had been told in a dream by Snowball to murder Napoleon or a similar act. So Napoleon, with the help of his dogs, slaughters anyone who is said to be disloyal. …the tale of confessions and executions went on until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones. To top it off, Napoleon outlaws Beasts of England, which had served as one of the only remaining ties between Animal Farm and old Major.
Chapter 8 As with the sleeping beds, some of the animals think they remember something in the commandments against animals killing animals. But when Muriel reads the writing on the barn wall to Clover, interestingly, the words are, No animal shall kill any other animal without cause. To replace Beasts of England, Napoleon forces animals to sing his own little self-worship song, called Comrade Napoleon.
And to further distance the animals from their ties of respect and admiration for Snowball, Napoleon (with help from Squealer no doubt) tells them that really Snowball was no hero at the Battle of Cowshed, but in fact, a coward who ran away from the danger. Napoleon goes on to say that the award Snowball received was really just a myth too. Once again some of the animals heard this with a certain bewilderment, but Squealer was soon able to convince them that their memories had been at fault.
The inter-farm commerce continues with Napoleon’s attempted sale of the firewood from a large tree cut down years ago. After playing games with Frederick and Pinchfield, the wise Napoleon decides to sell the firewood to Frederick. And what made it an especially wise move was the fact that he wouldn’t accept a check, which of course could bounce; so father Napoleon makes Frederick pay with real five-pound notes. Unfortunately for the animals, these notes are forged. So in essence Mr. Frederick steals the wood.
To make it even worse, Mr. Frederick and his men decide to attack the farm, and this time they bring more guns than sticks. After blowing up the reconstructed windmill with dynamite, Frederick and his men shoot and kill several animals with their rifles. It was a savage, bitter battle. Many animals die and still, more are wounded. The men are, however, finally pushed back through the gates and Napoleon declares a victory. Somehow this battle doesn’t seem quite as magical as the last one, but nonetheless, the Battle of the Windmill is still called a victory. Orwell goes on to say, It was a few days later than this that the pigs came upon a case of whisky in the cellars of the farmhouse.
And surprise, surprise, Napoleon suddenly becomes sick and is said to be dying. Obviously, he has broken the commandment about drinking alcohol, and sure enough, after the hangover, the Leader is better and soon is perfectly fine. But to justify this little episode, arrangements to amend the rules are made. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess. Chapter 9 Orwell basically uses chapter 9 to continue the fall of Animal Farm and to foreshadow his dramatic conclusion in chapter 10. For example, the rations of the everyday lowly animals are again reduced by Napoleon and the elite.
A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. Of course, this comment is taken totally out of context since the principles of Animalism guarantee the equality of all animals. But the animals have been too well brainwashed by the pigs; the rules of the revolution have long since passed. Orwell writes, Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. Another not so startling however sad fact is the new rule about who has the right-of-way when a pig and another animal encounter each other on a path.
The other animals are forced to stand to one side while the pigs, who were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sunday can walk right by. (In regards to the ribbons, now Mollie doesn’t seem so bad after all.) The next bizarre event is Moses’ sudden and unexplained return. This raven and former friend of Mr. Jones now seems to feel right at home telling the animals about SugarCandy Mountain to keep them working. What links the parallel between Napoleon and Jones even further is the fact that Moses is paid by Napoleon in beer.
( For the symbolism of Moses and SugarCandy Mountain, click on the side links.) Last in the chapter is the touching yet destined death of Boxer. After working so long for his master (dictator) Napoleon, any reader could have guessed the outcome. The troubling part, however, is the way Napoleon and the pigs handle his death. Instead of letting him enter his leisurely retirement, they force him into a glue-making truck and then lie about it to the other animals. Squealer says that Boxer has died in a hospital bed, despite receiving the best possible care (obviously a lie).
Chapter 10 is Orwell’s most dramatic and thought-provoking of the chapters. While the others seem to have at least a shred of comedy, chapter 10 is an almost pure tragedy and metaphor for Russia. For more on the symbolism of characters and connection to Stalin and all of Russia, visit the character profiles and metaphors sections on the left. In the chapter reviews, the main purpose is to provide a brief synopsis of each section without getting too into the symbolism, which may bore some readers, although it’s really the most fascinating part of the book.
The fall of the ideals of Animalism is summed up in Orwell’s first page of the chapter. Squealer was so fat that he could with difficulty see out of his eyes. Chapter 10 takes place in the future and so there are some drastic changes. For example, Napoleon says with no hesitancy, The truest happiness lay in working hard and living frugally. This is a stark change from the beginning of the book when Napoleon is considered the generous leader who wants unlimited food for all! Even more disgustingly, the hypocrisy of the statement is obvious.
Napoleon, of all animals, doesn’t work hard or even lift a finger anymore. Orwell goes on to state, Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer— except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.
The parallels between Jones and Napoleon have strengthened again when Orwell hints at the prospect of a new rebellion against Napoleon. Some day it was coming: it might not be soon, it might not be within the lifetime of any animal now living, but still, it was coming. Even the tune of Beasts of England was perhaps hummed secretly here and there. And even more, stunning (although one might have guessed it would happen sooner or later) is the sight of a pig walking on his hind legs.
Even the sheep have been conditioned to it. They suddenly break out into a chant of Four legs good, two legs better! To top it off, the pigs break the ultimate rule about wearing human clothes. Even so, the animals are ignorant and very stupid. Orwell narrates, It did not seem strange when Napoleon was seen strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth— no, not even when the pigs took Mr. Jones’s clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, Napoleon himself appearing in a black coat…. Lastly, Napoleon invites all the neighbors over to celebrate the success of Animal Farm, which is changed back to the name of Manor Farm.
Orwell narrates, Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm. The 7 Commandments are abridged for the last time, simply reading, All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
The closing paragraph is purely haunted. Orwell describes a human-like fight between the pigs and humans during the celebration. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.