Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Table of Contents
1. Animal Farm: Introduction
2. Animal Farm: Overview
3. Animal Farm: George Orwell Biography
4. Animal Farm: Summary

Animal Farm: Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter I Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter II Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter III Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter IV Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter V Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter VI Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter VII Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter VIII Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter IX Summary and Analysis
¨ Chapter X Summary and Analysis
Animal Farm: Quizzes
¨ Chapter I Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter II Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter III Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter IV Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter V Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter VI Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter VII Questions and Answers
Animal Farm 1
¨ Chapter VIII Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter IX Questions and Answers
¨ Chapter X Questions and Answers
Animal Farm: Essential Passages
¨ Essential Passages by Character: Napoleon
¨ Essential Passages by Theme: Propaganda
8. Animal Farm: Themes
9. Animal Farm: Style
10. Animal Farm: Historical Context
11. Animal Farm: Critical Overview
Animal Farm: Character Analysis
¨ Napoleon
¨ Snowball
¨ Squealer
¨ Other Characters
Animal Farm: Essays and Criticism
¨ Historical Setting for Orwell's Animal Farm
¨ Orwell and Socialism
¨ Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm
14. Animal Farm: Suggested Essay Topics
15. Animal Farm: Sample Essay Outlines
16. Animal Farm: Compare and Contrast
17. Animal Farm: Topics for Further Study
18. Animal Farm: Media Adaptations
19. Animal Farm: What Do I Read Next?
20. Animal Farm: Bibliography and Further Reading
21. Animal Farm: Pictures
22. Copyright
Animal Farm: Introduction
When Animal Farm was published in 1945, its British author George Orwell (a pseudonym for Eric Arthur
Blair) had already waited a year-and-a-half to see his manuscript in print. Because the book criticized the
Soviet Union, one of England's allies in World War II, publication was delayed until the war ended. It was an
immediate success as the first edition sold out in a month, nine foreign editions had appeared by the next year,
and the American Book-of-the-Month Club edition sold more than a half-million copies. Although Orwell
was an experienced columnist and essayist as well as the author of nine published books, nothing could have
prepared him for the success of this short novel, so brief he had considered self-publishing it as a pamphlet.
The novel brought together important themes—politics, truth, and class conflict—that had concerned Orwell for
much of his life. Using allegory—the weapon used by political satirists of the past, including Voltaire and
Swift—Orwell made his political statement in a twentieth-century fable that could be read as an entertaining
story about animals or, on a deeper level, a savage attack on the misuse of political power. While Orwell
wrote Animal Farm as a pointed criticism of Stalinist Russia, reviews of the book on the fiftieth-anniversary
of its publication declared its message to be still relevant. In a play on the famous line from the book, "Some
animals are more equal than others," an Economist reviewer wrote, "Some classics are more equal than
others," and as proof he noted that Animal Farm has never been out of print since it was first published and
continues to sell well year after year.
eNotes: Table of Contents 2
Animal Farm: Overview
The Life and Work of George Orwell
George Orwell was born Eric Hugh Blair in 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, India. He was the second of three
children, and the only boy, born to Richard and Ida Blair. His elder sister, Marjorie, and his younger sister,
Avril, completed this middle-class Anglo-Indian family. His dour, discouraging father was an agent in the
Opium Department of the British Civil Service. As was the custom with such middle-class children born
abroad, he was sent back to England for his education. His mother, a modern, rather left-wing woman and
militant suffragette, accompanied him.
Orwell attended the best English schools, including Eton College (1917-1921), a school that epitomized
“traditional” British education. Poorer than the other students and feeling insecure about himself, he never
quite fit in with the rest of his classmates. Politically, he had difficulty accepting the world of British
imperialism that surrounded him. These feelings of being an “outsider,” coupled with Orwell’s firm belief
(which he expressed early in his life to friends and family) that he felt fated to become a “great writer,”
affected the course of his entire life. Influenced by his mother’s “revolutionary” politics and charged by his
own political ideas, Orwell ultimately turned to a writing career.
However, when he graduated from Eton College in 1921, Orwell briefly followed the family tradition and
entered civil service as a member of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. He served in this position from 1922
to 1927, gathering material for his two most famous essays, “On Shooting an Elephant” and “A Hanging.”
During these five years, he witnessed and participated in the British policies of colonialism. A Socialist at
heart, Orwell came to the conclusion that British imperialism was futile and destined to come to an end.
Orwell returned to England to devote his time to writing and supported himself in this period of fairly severe
poverty with a series of temporary jobs and journalistic writing assignments. An account of these difficult
years was recorded in his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). His novel Burmese Days
(1934) came from his Far East experiences. It was followed by A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935) and Keep the
Aspidistra Flying (1936), which expressed his negative attitudes toward British society. An assignment
covering the lives of the miners of northern England enabled Orwell to share the experiences and hardships of
these working-class people.
Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy in the summer of 1936. At the end of that year, he and his new wife
left for Spain where he joined a “Trotskyist” unit of the militia and fought in the Spanish Civil War. What he
witnessed there shook his Socialist ideals. He was appalled by the brutal tactics employed by the Communists
who were armed by the Soviet Union and turned loose against Stalin’s political enemies in Spain. Orwell was
wounded in Spain and diagnosed with tuberculosis upon his return to England. An account of his Spanish
experiences is the subject of Homage to Catalonia (1938), an autobiographical work.
During World War II, Orwell was kept out of active service because of his worsening health. He continued to
contribute to the war effort through his writing and his broadcasts to India over the BBC. When his wife died
in 1943 during a minor operation, Orwell left London and went to the Hebrides Islands with his adopted son.
From November 1943 to January 1944, he worked on Animal Farm, which he published in 1945 as the war
was coming to an end. His tuberculosis grew worse but his writing continued. He completed 1984, a political
novel which he began in 1948 and saw published in 1949, just six months before his death on January 21,
1950, at the age of 46.
Historical Background
In 1917, as George Orwell was preparing to attend Eton School, two major world events were taking place.
Europe was embroiled in a major conflict that later would be called World War I, and Russia was on the brink
Animal Farm: Overview 3
of a revolution that would have an impact on the planet for the next 75 years. Both events stemmed from a
long history of complex political entanglements, secret agreements, and economic considerations. World War
I began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.
In Russia, the decade leading to the Revolution of 1917 began with a series of Russian defeats in the war with
Japan. Military mutinies and workers’ strikes culminated in a march on the Tsar’s Winter Palace at
Petersburg. When workers attempted to present a petition calling for factory reforms and civil and political
rights, Tsarist troops opened fire. Ninety-six workers were killed and over 300 were wounded. Another 34
died later. The seeds were sown. In March 1917, the Revolution began, and Russia, economically drained by
the cost of the world war and demoralized by defeats in that war, rose against Tsar Nicholas II. In October, the
Bolsheviks (Communists) staged a second revolution and seized power.
Among their leaders was Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov (Lenin), a committed revolutionary, who was inspired by
the teachings of Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx, a German economist and the author of Das Kapital and
co-author of The Communist Manifesto, called for a struggle of the proletariat (workers) against the
aristocracy. The ensuing years of political struggle and civil war brought about the rise to power of Leon
Trotsky and Josef Stalin, as well as the arrest and the murder of the Tsar and his entire family. The next two
decades brought the death of Lenin in January 1924. A power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin ensued. It
ended with Trotsky’s deportation from the Soviet Union in 1929, and his assassination in Mexico City in
1940. Under the new Communist regime, the people suffered through famine and civil war. Stalin’s taking
despotic control of the country after a series of public trials in the 1930s to “purge” the government of his
political enemies furthered that suffering.
Reaction to the Novel
When Animal Farm was completed in February 1944, it was offered to Victor Gollancz of the Left Book
Club, whose book choices were distributed to more than 40,000 readers. The offer was refused. However, it
was a decision Gollancz later regretted as a professional publishing mistake, for the work became one of the
few undoubted masterpieces of our time. It is viable as a work of fiction that one can read and appreciate with
no historical background, and as a simple, classic story of struggle against tyranny and the corruption of
power. It also belongs to the genre of allegory; Orwell himself subtitles Animal Farm “A Fairy Story.” In
developing his characters—barn animals and people on the Manor Farm in England—and the events of the
story—the oppression of the animals, the ultimate subversion of their dream for change, and the victory of
tyranny over idealism—Orwell renders a faithful view of Russian history and world politics from 1917 to
His story symbolically depicts Russia under the rule of the Tsars; the Communist Revolution of 1917; the War
of Intervention where British, American, and French forces attempted to intervene in the events and affect the
outcome of the Russian Civil War; the New Economic Plan to modernize the Soviet Union and lead it into the
twentieth century; Stalin’s first Five Year Plan; the power struggle within the Communist party that brought
about the expulsion of Trotsky and the dictatorship of Stalin; the “Great Purge” of 1937-38; the Hitler-Stalin
Pact of 1939; the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941; World War II; and the subsequent uneasy
friendship between Stalin and the allied leaders during that war.
Coincidentally, Animal Farm came into existence the same year that the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. According to a review by C. M. Woodhouse published in The Times Literary Supplement in
London on August 6, 1954, it has had nearly as much impact.
... Orwell’s still, small voice has also made itself continuously heard in its own quiet,
persistent, almost nagging way.... Already in a score of countries and dozen languages
Animal Farm has made its peculiar mark in translation and in strip-cartoon...; and the political
flavor of its message... has not been lost in the transcription. Already Orwell has launched the
Animal Farm: Overview 4
‘long haul’ of wresting back some of those cardinal, once meaningful, words like
‘equality,’ ‘peace,’ ‘democracy,’ which have been fraudulently converted into shibboleths
of political warfare; and already it is impossible for anyone who has read Animal Farm (as
well as for many who have not) to listen to the demagogues’ claptrap about equality without
also hearing the still, small voice that adds... but some are more equal than others.
The book was promptly condemned by Josef Stalin and banned in the Soviet Union.
Master List of Characters
Mr. Jones—the owner of the Manor Farm in England, an alcoholic who treated his animals poorly; Tsar
Nicholas II.
Old Major—the prize Middle White Boar who identifies man as the cause of all the animals’ problems,
formulates the ideals of Animalism, and calls for revolution against man; Karl Marx.
Napoleon—fierce-looking Berkshire boar who becomes the tyrannical leader of Animal Farm; Josef Stalin.
Snowball—vivacious pig leader of Animal Farm and military tactician who is run off the farm by Napoleon;
Leon Trotsky.
Squealer—a fat porker and a convincing speaker who becomes Napoleon’s “mouthpiece.” He assuages the
fears and doubts of the other animals and it is said that he can turn “black into white”; Soviet propaganda.
Boxer—loyal, hard-working horse who believes in the Revolution and everything Napoleon says; the loyal
Benjamin—cynical donkey and friend of Boxer who thinks life will continue to go badly, even after the
revolution; the “silent majority” who didn’t protest, but did what was necessary to survive under the Tsar or
under Stalin.
Clover—stout mare and friend of Boxer.
Mollie—Mr. Jones’s cart horse who is vain and fond of ribbons, special treatment and lump sugar; the
aristocracy under the Tsar.
Bluebell—a dog whose pups are taken and trained by Napoleon.
Jessie—another dog whose pups are taken by Napoleon.
Pincher—a third dog.
Muriel—the white goat who learns how to read.
Moses—the raven and spy for Mr. Jones who tells and animals about Sugar Candy Mountain, a place where
they won’t have to work and where they will have all the food they want; the Church in Russia.
Sheep—followers of Napoleon who are taught by Squealer to call out slogans at critical moments.
Minimus—a pig who writes poems about Napoleon.
Animal Farm: Overview 5
Mr. Pilkington—the owner of Foxwood farm, who tries to help Jones recover his farm after the Rebellion;
Churchill and Great Britain.
Mr. Frederick—the owner of Pinchfield farm who later blows up the windmill; Hitler and Germany.
Mr. Whymper—the agent who sees an opportunity to make money by helping Napoleon carry on trade with
the outside world; Capitalists.
Summary of the Novel
The animals of Manor Farm have always been miserable under Mr. Jones and his men. They have come to
accept their difficult lives as part of the natural order of things. It is Old Major, a prize-winning boar, who
shares his dreams with the other animals. He tells them that the cause of all their suffering is man. With man
gone, the animals would enjoy the abundance the land provides and build a new society based on equality. He
says that Jones has no concern for the animals—that he uses them until they are no longer productive. He
butchers the pigs and drowns the dogs when they get old. Old Major predicts that Jones will even sell Boxer,
the horse, and the hardest and most faithful worker on the farm, to the slaughterhouse once he is no longer
able to work. He encourages the animals to work for this revolution. He warns them never to become like man
and to always treat each other as equals.
Three nights later, Old Major dies, and the task of preparing the animals for the revolution falls to the pigs,
who are smarter than the others and who later teach themselves to read. Three young pigs, the intellectual
Snowball, the domineering Napoleon and the eloquent Squealer, organize Old Major’s dream of the future
into a political philosophy called Animalism.
When the drunken Mr. Jones fails to feed the animals one night, the animals drive him and his men off the
farm. They change the name to “Animal Farm,” and the pigs, who seem to have assumed leadership, write
the principles of Animalism, reduced to Seven Commandments, on the barn wall. These are to be the
unalterable rules by which the animals will live ever after:
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.
At first the revolution seems to be a success. All of the animals, directed and supervised by the pigs, work
hard to bring in the harvest. But there are indications from the beginning that the pigs treat themselves
specially. They remain the supervisors, doing no physical labor, and they take extra food (mild and windfall
apples) for themselves instead of sharing with the others. Meanwhile Jones, with the aid of his neighbors, tries
to retake the farm. They are driven off at the “Battle of the Cowshed” by the military tactics of Snowball and
the strength of Boxer. Both are decorated as heroes for their roles in the victory.
A power struggle for control of Animal Farm develops between Snowball and Napoleon, and it culminates
with the building of a windmill. When the animals seem about to vote in favor of the project, Napoleon, who
opposes the plan, unleashes nine dogs he has been training secretly to follow his orders without question.
Snowball is chased off the farm, barely escaping the jaws of the dogs. In a turnabout, Napoleon orders that
work on the windmill begin. The work is difficult, and the animals suffer in the process. When a storm blows
the windmill down, Napoleon blames the exiled Snowball and condemns him as an enemy. Napoleon exploits
the animals’ fear that Jones will return and their fear of his fierce dogs to consolidate his power. He uses
Animal Farm: Overview 6
Squealer to lie to the animals and convince them that things aren’t what they seem. As work on the second
windmill begins, Napoleon and the pigs become more and more corrupt. They change the commandments,
move into Jones’s house, and drink whisky. Napoleon even kills other animals who dare to stand up to his
The second windmill is blown up in an attack by Frederick, after he steals wood from Animal Farm, by
paying for it with counterfeit money. But Napoleon pronounces this defeat to be a great victory, and work
begins on a third attempt to build a windmill. None of the promises of leisure time and comfort come true—no
heat or electricity in the barn, no machines to do their hard work. In fact, life grows harder for all of the
animals, except the pigs, and food is scarcer. When Boxer, the hardest worker on the farm, is hurt, Napoleon
sells him to the horse slaughterer. Squealer convinces the others that Boxer died in the hospital after getting
the best treatment. Old Major’s prediction about Boxer has come true, but it is Napoleon who is the villain.
In the end, the pigs completely subvert the ideals of Animalism. They are the new masters. They walk on two
legs. They violate and change each of the Seven Commandments. Ultimately, these commandments are erased
and replaced with only one: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the
final scene, Mr. Pilkington comes for a tour and Napoleon announces some changes. The name is changed
back to “Manor Farm,” and a new level of understanding is reached between pig and man. The book ends
when someone cheats in a card game. The animals, watching from outside, cannot tell the difference between
the pigs and the men.
Estimated Reading Time
Animal Farm is a relatively short book of about 130 pages in 10 chapters. Each chapter is approximately 12
pages long. By breaking your reading time into five half-hour segments, two chapters at a sitting, you can read
the book in three hours.
Animal Farm: George Orwell Biography
George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in Bengal, India, in 1903, into a family that had to struggle to make
ends meet. The son of a British civil servant, Orwell was brought to England as a toddler. The boy became
aware of class distinctions while attending St. Cyprian's preparatory school in Sussex, where he received a
fine education but felt out of place. He was teased and looked down upon because he was not from a wealthy
family. This experience made him sensitive to the cruelty of social snobbery. As a partial-scholarship student
whose parents could not afford to pay his entire tuition, Orwell was also regularly reminded of his lowly
economic status by school administrators. Conditions improved at Eton, where he studied next, but instead of
continuing with university classes, in 1922 he joined the Indian Imperial Police. Stationed in Burma, his
class-consciousness intensified as he served as one of the hated policemen enforcing British control of the
native population. Sickened by his role as imperialist, he returned to England in 1927 and resigned his
position. He planned to become a writer, a profession in which he had not before shown much interest.
In 1928, perhaps to erase guilt from his colonial experiences, he chose to live amongst the poor of London,
and later, Paris. In Paris, he published articles in local newspapers, but his fiction was rejected. His own life
finally provided the material for his first book, published in 1933. Down and Out in Paris and London, which
combined fictional narrative based on his time spent in those two cities with social criticism, was his first
work published as George Orwell. The pseudonym was used so his parents would not be shocked by the
brutal living conditions described in the book. The next year, Orwell published Burmese Days, a novel based
on his stay in Burma. Subsequent novels, including A Clergyman's Daughter, Keep the Aspidistra Flying and
Coming Up for Air, all contain autobiographical references and served as vehicles for Orwell to explore his
growing political convictions.
Animal Farm: George Orwell Biography 7
In 1936, Orwell traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to write about the Spanish Civil War and ended up joining the
battle, fighting against Spanish leader Francisco Franco on the side of the Republicans. Wounded, he returned
to England. Two nonfiction books, The Road to Wigan Pier, a report on deplorable conditions in the mining
communities of northern England, and Homage to Catalonia, the story of his participation in the Spanish
Civil War, allowed Orwell to explicitly defend his political ideas. Dozens of pointed essays also revealed his
political viewpoint.
By that time, Orwell clearly saw himself as a political performer whose tool was writing. He wrote in a 1946
essay, "Why I Write," that "every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly
or indirectly, against totalitarianism and/or democratic socialism, as I understand it."
Orwell's next book, Animal Farm, a fable about the events during and following the Russian Revolution, was
well-liked by critics and the public. He had had trouble finding a publisher during World War I because the
work was a disguised criticism of Russia, England's ally at the time. When it was finally published, just after
the war, it was a smashing success.
The money Orwell made from Animal Farm allowed him, in 1947, to rent a house on Jura, an island off the
coast of Scotland, where he began to work on 1984. His work was interrupted by treatment for tuberculosis,
which he had contracted in the 1930s, and upon his release from the hospital in 1948 Orwell returned to Jura
to complete the book. Under doctor's orders to work no more than one hour a day, but unable to find a typist
to travel to his home, he typed the manuscript himself and collapsed upon completion of the book. For the
next two years he was bedridden. Many critics claim that Orwell's failing health may have influenced him to
make 1984 so pessimistic, and Orwell admitted that they were probably right.
Orwell did plan to write other books, according to his friends, and married while in the hospital, but three
months later in 1950 he finally died of tuberculosis.
Animal Farm: Summary
Chapter I
As Animal Farm opens, Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is drunkenly heading to bed. The animals
gather in the barn as Old Major, the prize boar, tells them that he has thought about the brutal lives that the
farm animals lead under human bondage and is convinced that a rebellion must come soon, in which the
animals throw off the tyranny of their human oppressors and come to live in perfect freedom and equality.
Major teaches the animals "Beasts of England," a song which will become their revolutionary anthem.
Chapter II
A few days later, Major dies. The animals, under the leadership of the pigs, begin to prepare for the Rebellion.
Two of the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, elaborate Major's ideas into a complete system of thought known as
Animalism. The Rebellion comes much sooner than anyone thought, and the animals break free of Jones's
tyranny and drive the humans from the farm. Snowball and Napoleon paint over the name "Manor Farm" on
the gate, replacing it with "Animal Farm ." They also paint the basic principles of Animalism on the wall of
the barn:
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.
Animal Farm: Summary 8
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.
Chapter III
The farm passes through an idyllic time in which the animals work joyously together and make a great success
of the harvest. The animals all attend weekly planning meetings at which the decisions for the future of the
farm are made. After realizing that some of the other animals cannot read or remember the Seven
Commandments, Snowball boils these commandments down to a single maxim: "Four legs good, two legs
bad." But all of the milk and apples on the farm, it seems, are now to be reserved for the pigs alone.
Chapter IV
News of the Rebellion at Animal Farm begins to spread, and animals across the countryside are singing
"Beasts of England." The neighboring farmers, led by Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood and Mr. Frederick of
Pinchfield Farm, attempt to retake Animal Farm by force. The animals, led by Snowball, successfully fight off
the invaders in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed. Snowball is decorated as an Animal
Hero, First Class.
Chapter V
Snowball and Napoleon fight a number of battles over policy, culminating in the controversy over a windmill
which Snowball has designed and thinks should be built on the farm. Napoleon argues that the animals need
to concentrate on food production. As the debate reaches fever pitch, Napoleon calls in nine dogs which he
raised to be loyal only to him. The dogs chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon declares an end to the
planning meetings Squealer, another pig who serves as Napoleon's functionary, convinces the other animals
that Snowball was a criminal. A few days later, Napoleon declares that the windmill will be built after all, and
Squealer explains that the idea had belonged to Napoleon from the beginning, but that Snowball had stolen
the plans.
Chapter VI
The animals' workload is repeatedly increased throughout the following year as construction begins on the
windmill. Napoleon announces that the farm will begin trading with the neighboring farms, which seems to
violate one of the early resolutions passed by the animals, but Squealer convinces them otherwise. The pigs,
moreover, have moved into the farmhouse, and it is rumored that they are sleeping in the beds. The animals
check the barn wall, vaguely remembering an injunction against this—but the commandment says that "No
animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." When the windmill is knocked down during a storm, Napoleon
blames its destruction on Snowball and pronounces a death sentence on this traitor. The animals begin the
laborious process of rebuilding.
Chapter VII
Rumors begin to fly that Snowball is sneaking into the farm at night, causing small bits of mischief.
Moreover, it is asserted that certain of the animals on the farm are in league with Snowball. Napoleon orders a
full investigation. A meeting is held in which the animals are invited to confess their connections with
Snowball. All the animals that do confess are promptly ripped to pieces by Napoleon's dogs. The others are
shocked at such bloodshed and try to comfort themselves by singing "Beasts of England," only to be told that
the song has now been abolished.
Chapter VIII
In the days after the purges, the animals seem to recall a commandment prohibiting the killing of animals, but
when they check the barn wall, they discover that it reads "No animal shall kill any other animal without
cause." Napoleon bargains to sell Mr. Pilkington a pile of timber. The animals do not trust Pilkington, but they
prefer him to Frederick, who, it is whispered, is torturing his animals; in fact, Napoleon declares Frederick to
be an enemy of the farm. But several days later it is announced that he has sold the timber to Frederick, and
Animal Farm: Summary 9
now Pilkington is the enemy. Frederick fools Napoleon by giving him forged banknotes for the timber, and,
with a group of men, attacks Animal Farm and destroys the windmill. Squealer, however, informs the animals
that the battle was a victory for the animals. Shortly after, the pigs discover a case of whiskey in the basement
of the farmhouse, and a raucous celebration is heard throughout the night. The next day, it is announced that
Napoleon is near death. When he recovers, the animals discover that the commandment which they thought
said that no animal should drink alcohol in fact reads "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."
Chapter IX
That winter, rations are repeatedly reduced on the farm, for everyone but the pigs. The animals are kept
content, however, through an ever-increasing number of formal ceremonies. An old carthorse, Boxer, who has
worked tirelessly for Animal Farm, suddenly takes ill. Napoleon announces that arrangements have been
made to treat Boxer in a hospital in town. However, the truck that arrives to take Boxer away belongs to a
horse slaughterer, and the animals erupt in a great outcry. They are pacified by Squealer, who tells them that,
in fact, the truck has been purchased by the veterinarian but has not been repainted.
Chapter X
The years pass, and the animals lead harder and harder lives, though at least no animal is lorded over by a
human. Then, one day, Napoleon emerges from the house on two legs. The sheep's traditional chant of "Four
legs good, two legs bad" has now, somehow, been changed to "Four legs good, two legs better." And the
Seven Commandments have now all been erased from the barn wall and replaced with a single
Commandment: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The pigs begin reading
newspapers, wearing clothes, and carrying whips in the fields. They call for a meeting between themselves
and the human owners of the surrounding farms, at which Napoleon announces that the name of Animal Farm
has been changed back to Manor Farm. The other animals peek in the windows of the farmhouse as this
meeting progresses and are stunned to discover that they cannot tell the difference between the men and the
pigs at all.
Animal Farm: Summary and Analysis
Chapter I Summary and Analysis
New Characters:
Mr. Jones: the owner and operator of the Manor Farm
Old Major: prize Middle White boar and founder of Animalism
Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher: farm dogs
Boxer: a horse who is the hardest worker on the farm
Clover: a stout motherly mare
Muriel: a white goat
Benjamin: an ill-tempered, taciturn donkey who is the oldest animal on the farm
Mollie: foolish white mare who pulled Jones’s cart
Moses: the tame raven, Mr. Jones’s special pet and spy
Animal Farm: Summary and Analysis 10
After Mr. Jones locks the henhouse for the night and goes to bed, the animals of the Manor farm meet in the
barn to hear what Old Major, the prize Middle White boar, has to say. Major identifies man as the cause of all
the problems for the animals. It is man alone who consumes without producing. Get rid of man, he says, and
animals will be rich and free. Jones abuses his animals. Old Major predicts that even Boxer will be sold to the
knacker to be boiled down for glue and dog food “the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their
power.” He formulates his ideas into what will become the principles of Animalism. “All men are enemies.
All animals are comrades.” He warns them never to become like man in their struggle for freedom and
equality, never live in a house, never sleep in a bed, never wear clothes, never drink, smoke or engage in
trade. Above all, all animals are equal, and no animal must tyrannize over his own kind. Old Major’s dream
is of a world without man. He teaches them the revolutionary song Beasts of England. The meeting breaks up
when Jones, awakened by the uproar, fires his shotgun and the animals hurriedly return to their sleeping
On the most basic level, Animal Farm is the story of talking farm animals and their struggle against a cruel
master. In the opening chapter Old Major reveals his dream of utopian society, a place where the animals will
be able to live out their lives to their natural ends. It is a society without tyranny, where all animals are
“comrades,” equal in every respect. His prediction that Jones will have Boxer slaughtered, the very day he is
no longer useful, is very significant. It will come true, with a most important difference, later in the book. In
addressing the animals, Old Major reveals his ideas for a better world after a revolution to overthrow man.
Old Major warns them not to become like man once man is gone, nor to be corrupted by power. These
principles the pigs later formulate into a theory called Animalism.
But Animal Farm is not just a simplistic story. Orwell himself calls it “A Fairy Story.” It is a fable, an
allegory, a historical satire, where characters and events are symbols that have another level of meaning.
Orwell chose the fable form, a technique used by Aesop and others, to teach a concept, a moral, or a lesson in
simple terms that an audience could easily understand. A fable uses animal characters to represent people. The
animals behave like people in every respect. They talk and have human strengths and weaknesses because, in
reality, they are people. Since the purpose of the fable is to instruct, Orwell used the fable form in Animal
Farm to teach a political lesson to his audience, to portray the events in Russian history from 1917 to 1943.
Virtually everything, every character and event in the story, has historical significance. In this allegory, Manor
Farm is Russia. Mr. Jones, the owner of the farm, represents Tsar Nicholas II, the Russian king in 1917. Old
Major is Karl Marx, the German political philosopher who formulated the theories that were to become the
basis of modern-day communism. Animalism is communism or bolshevism.
One of the themes running through the book is the idea of the “dream betrayed.” Chapter I gives the animals
hope for a better life without man. Old Major paints a picture of peace and harmony. Ironically, even before
the revolution takes place on the farm, before Old Major gives his speech to the ensemble, there are
indications that his call for equality, his view of Utopia will never become a reality. Already there are signs
that the pigs are different. They are smarter and more clever than the others. Among the first to arrive, the pigs
assume a place in the front of the meeting. While Clover is protecting the lost ducklings, other animals are
fighting about the status of the wild creatures, the rats and rabbits, in the new society. These are the first
examples of foreshadowing, a hint about what is to come in the novel. Perhaps it is Orwell’s way of
suggesting that true equality never will exist.
Chapter II Summary and Analysis
New Characters:
Napoleon: one of the pig leaders, a fierce-looking Berkshire boar, not much of a talker, but with a reputation
Chapter I Summary and Analysis 11
of getting his own way
Snowball: another pig leader, vivacious and inventive
Squealer: a fat pig who is a persuasive talker
Three nights after giving his speech, Old Major dies in his sleep. The work of organizing the animals falls to
the pigs, the cleverest of the animals. Preeminent among the pigs are Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer, who
have formed Old Major’s teachings into a system of thought called Animalism. Among the difficulties they
face is a sense of loyalty some of the animals feel for Mr. Jones. Other animals are apathetic and indifferent.
Mollie, the cart horse, is concerned that she won’t have ribbons and sugar after the Rebellion. Their most
difficult problem is in counteracting the lies of Moses, the raven. He tells about Sugarcandy Mountain, a place
full of clover, lump sugar, and linseed cakes, where the animals will go after they die. The pigs have to
convince the others that such a place doesn’t exist. The horses, Boxer and Clover, are the most faithful
disciples of Animalism. They absorb and believe everything they are told and pass it on to the other animals
in simple arguments.
The Rebellion occurs sooner than expected. When Jones, who has turned to drink, neglects his farm, and
forgets to feed the animals, they break into the barn and help themselves. Jones and his men, armed with
whips, are unable to regain control and are driven off the farm. When the animals realize what they have done,
they gallop around the farm gathering and burning all the implements and symbols of man’s control over the
animals—whips, nose rings, chains, knives and ribbons. They tour the farmhouse, locking the door and turning
it into a museum. They change the name from “Manor Farm” to “Animal Farm.” With the others looking on,
Snowball paints the Seven Commandments, the unalterable laws that are to govern the animals, on the barn
wall. They are:
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.
Before going into the hayfield to bring in the harvest, the pigs milk the cows and collect five buckets. The
animals, hoping for a share of the milk, are sent by Napoleon to bring in the harvest. When they return, the
milk is gone.
The hungry animals, who have been organized and instructed by the pigs, the leaders of the Rebellion,
automatically join together to kick Jones and his men off the farm. After they secure the farm, the animals
destroy all of the symbols of Jones’s control over them, including the ribbons that Mollie is so fond of
wearing on market days. They change the name of their farm and enumerate the laws by which they will
govern themselves. The last of these is “All animals are equal.” But there are indications that this isn’t so.
The pigs, specifically Napoleon and Snowball, have become the leaders because they are smarter.
When the milk disappears at the end of the chapter, it is only the first in a series of events to establish the
inequality that is developing between the pigs and other animals. Later in the book, the mystery of the
disappearing milk will be explained by Squealer. Napoleon’s brewing competition with Snowball is hinted at
Chapter II Summary and Analysis 12
in the chapter. Napoleon orders Snowball to lead the animals to the hayfield to gather in the harvest while he
remains behind with the milk. In the evening when they return, the milk is gone and nothing is said.
Orwell uses the voice of a detached observer to narrate his story. He doesn’t judge, but presents events
without commentary and allows his readers to come to their own conclusions. But Orwell’s simple “fairy
story” style is a mask for his cutting political satire. Napoleon, whose very name suggests power and
authority, is a composite of Lenin and Stalin, leaders of the Soviet Union after the Communist Revolution.
Lenin, who died in 1924, was followed by the ruthless Josef Stalin, whose power lasted until his death in
1953. Snowball is Leon Trotsky, a military tactician and Russian leader. After Lenin’s death, a power
struggle developed between Trotsky and Stalin and ended when Trotsky was expelled from the Communist
party, was exiled and eventually assassinated by an agent of the Soviet Secret Police in Mexico City.
Although Squealer is not a specific person, he represents the propaganda (managed information and the
controlled media) used by the Soviet government to inform the people, manipulate news, and change history
to suit Stalin’s needs.
Clover and Boxer represent those peasants who believed strongly in the ideals of the Revolution. And
although they may have been misled by corrupt leaders, they worked hard for the cause. Moses stands for the
Russian Orthodox Church which enjoyed a position of power under the protection of the tsars. Sugarcandy
Mountain is Moses’ version of heaven, the reward for those who obey laws. After the Revolution, the
Russian Church was disbanded by the Communists. Many priests were exiled, jailed, or executed. Later, when
conditions in the Soviet Union deteriorated, the Church was allowed to reopen under strict government
scrutiny. Many of the priests were agents who acted as government spies.
Chapter III Summary and Analysis
New Characters:
Sheep: unintelligent animals who follow the leader
The days after the Rebellion are good for the animals. All of the animals work hard to bring in the harvest,
except the pigs, who direct and supervise. The harvest is a bigger success than Jones and his men had ever
had. The animals are happy, and the food they eat is their own. Boxer is the hardest worker. His answer to any
problem is, “I will work harder!”, which he adopts as his personal motto. The others work according to their
abilities, with a few exceptions. Mollie gets up late and leaves early, and the cat has a way of disappearing.
Benjamin is the only animal who seems unchanged, slow and obstinate, never shirking and never
volunteering. He is fond of saying, “Donkeys live a long time. None of you have ever seen a dead donkey.”
There is no work on Sunday, and at the weekly meetings, the animals salute their new flag and debate the
resolutions put forth by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, who are never in agreement on any of the issues.
The pigs, who have taught themselves to read, set aside the harness room as a headquarters to study
blacksmithing, carpentry, and other skills necessary to operate the farm. Snowball organizes committees to
increase production and teach the others to read. Napoleon concerns himself with the education of the young,
taking nine puppies from their mothers, Jessie and Bluebell, and hiding them away in the loft. The animals
learn to read according to their limited abilities. The sheep learn a single maxim which embodies the essential
principles of Animalism: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Once they learn it, they say it for hours.
The animals solve the mystery of the milk. It is mixed every day into the pigs’ mash. The milk and the
windfall apples are reserved exclusively for the pigs. Squealer explains the necessity for this. Because the pigs
are brain workers, the whole management and organization of the farm depends on them. Squealer says that it
has been scientifically proven that milk and apples are essential to the well-being of a pig. Even though some
pigs don’t even like milk and apples, Squealer says, they eat them for the safety and the benefit of the other
Chapter III Summary and Analysis 13
animals. He ends his argument with the threat that if the pigs fail in their duties, Jones will return. “Surely,
comrades, surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” The milk and the apples are
the only issue that Napoleon and Snowball agree upon. So it is settled without further protest that the apples
and milk be put aside for the pigs.
The Communists exhorted the peasants to revolt in 1917 with the promise, “Workers of the world unite. You
have nothing to lose but your chains.” The rebellion of the animals was also based on the ideal that their
miserable lives could and would be better. Immediately after the expulsion of Jones, this appears to be the
case. But the first test is the harvest. Since the animals are now working for themselves, they bring in the
biggest harvest ever in two days’ less time than usually took Jones and his men. There is no waste, as every
animal, except the pigs, works, “And not an animal on the farm had stolen so much as a mouthful.”
It appears that Old Major’s dream will come true. Their commitment to the cause is visible in all of the barn
animals, but it is most evident in Boxer. Already the hardest worker of the farm, he is always ready to work
harder. But there are some indications of problems. The pigs, the new leaders on the farm, do no labor. They
are the administrators, the new upper class in a theoretically classless society. How fitting and how sardonic
for Orwell to select pigs to represent the leaders of the Communist party, the “new Russian aristocracy.”
The struggle for power among Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky is symbolized by the conflict among the animals.
And there are other problems. Mollie, Jones’s pampered cart horse, does little work. This is also true of the
cat, an opportunist who does no work and only shows up for meals. Historically, Mollie represents the “old
Russian aristocracy” who owned the land, controlled the wealth, and enjoyed the protection of the Tsar. After
the Revolution of 1917, many of these aristocrats were arrested, re-educated, or executed. Those who could,
fled the country to Europe and the United States. It is Benjamin, the symbol of the Russians who suffered
under the Tsar and Communism, that grudgingly does whatever is necessary. Benjamin doesn’t believe that
change is possible, and he has no faith in the new order. His only interest is his own survival.
The coming rift between Napoleon and Snowball, suggestive of the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky,
begins to surface in this chapter. Their conflict stems from a difference in ideology as the two try to build their
personal power bases on the farm. Snowball works to organize the animal committees and to teach them how
to read. Napoleon calls for the education of the youth, and takes the nine puppies to be raised for his own
purposes. These dogs, in reality the Russian Secret Police, will appear later and play an important part in
Napoleon’s grab for total control of the farm. The pigs are called “brain workers” by the eloquent Squealer,
whose role as the apologist for the pigs and Napoleon’s mouthpiece, is established here.
The chapter also shows the importance of propaganda and the use of managed, slanted information to attain a
political end. Squealer is able to head off any complaints by making them believe that the unselfish pigs are
acting in the best interest of the farm by eating the apples and drinking the milk. He also relies on the
animals’ fear by linking the pigs’ actions to the return of Jones. But how could all the others be so naive?
Because they are misinformed, because they are ignorant, because they are afraid, but most important,
because they are trusting.
The years following the Revolution of 1917 were filled with turmoil, civil war, the execution of Tsar Nicholas
II and his entire family, and a power struggle between Trotskyites, Stalinists, Socialists, and Bolsheviks.
Through it all the peasants struggled to survive.
Chapter IV Summary and Analysis
Chapter IV Summary and Analysis 14
New Characters:
Mr. Pilkington: neighbor of Animal Farm and owner of Foxwood Farm
Mr. Frederick: neighbor of Animal Farm and owner of Pinchfield Farm
As the news of the Rebellion on Animal Farm spreads across the countryside, the animals on neighboring
farms become unmanageable. The stories unnerve the neighboring farmers, Mr. Pilkington, the owner of
Foxwood Farm, and Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield Farm. Although Pilkington and Frederick are on permanently
bad terms with each other, they are sufficiently frightened by the recent events to overcome their differences
long enough to join forces with Mr. Jones in an attempt to help him retake the Manor Farm (as they insist on
calling it).
The pigeons bring word of the humans’ imminent attack, long expected by the animals. Snowball, who has
studied an old book of Julius Caesar’s military campaigns, is in charge of the defenses of Animal Farm and
puts his strategy into action. The humans, tricked into believing that the animals are in retreat, rush into the
battle. Quickly they are surrounded and defeated by the well-disciplined and well-organized animal forces.
The two heroes are Snowball, who is wounded by pellets fired from Jones’s gun, and Boxer. For their roles in
the Battle of the Cowshed, as it is called, they are each awarded a military decoration of “Animal Hero, First
Class.” A sheep, who is killed in the battle, is posthumously awarded an “Animal Hero, Second Class”
Leon Trotsky was the military genius who built the Soviet Army and planned the military campaigns that
gave victory to the Communists in the civil war that followed the Revolution. He is personified in Snowball,
the first-class hero of the Battle of the Cowshed. It is Snowball who has foreseen the possibility of humans
attempting to retake the farm and has planned for it by reading Julius Caesar’s battle strategies. The
importance of the battle is recognized by Orwell, who devotes more time to it than he does the Rebellion.
With the Battle of the Cowshed, Orwell has combined several events from the closing years of World War I
and years immediately after the Russian Revolution.
After the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917, the new Russian government pursued peace with Germany.
But when Trotsky rejected the peace terms, Germany launched an attack and occupied territory deep inside
Russia until December 1918. At about the same time, the Russian Civil War (1918-1920) broke out between
the Communist “Reds” and anti-Communist “Whites.” The allied powers, including the United States, Great
Britain and France (who were still at war with Germany), and Japan invaded Russia and occupied Russian
territory. After the defeat of Germany, the Allied forces remained in Russia and aided the Whites against the
Reds. Coming under attack by combined Russian troops, the foreign forces withdrew in 1919, and victory in
the Civil War went to the Communists. From it all, Trotsky emerged as a powerful leader, the main architect
of the new Red Army. It put him into direct conflict with Stalin and set the stage for their future confrontation
which would result in Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party and his eventual exile and execution.
In this chapter Orwell introduces the character of Pilkington, the neighboring farmer and the owner of
Foxwood Farm, to represent Great Britain and British Minister of War (and future Prime Minister), Winston
Churchill. It was Churchill who early recognized the threat posed by communism and advocated the Allied
invasion of Russia. Frederick represents Germany, and later Adolf Hitler who came to power in the 1930s and
remained there until his death in 1945.
Chapter IV clearly belongs to Snowball. His planning and his actions make him the hero. He is even
wounded. But later Napoleon will dispute Snowball’s motives and his achievements and paints a very
different picture of history. His role in the battle will come up later in the book when the events of history are
Chapter IV Summary and Analysis 15
rewritten by Squealer.
Chapter V Summary and Analysis
New Character:
Minimus: pig with a remarkable ability for composing songs and poems
After the Battle of the Cowshed, Animal Farm is safe from human attack for the time being, due in a large
part to Snowball’s military genius. However, there remain other problems. Mollie has become more
troublesome, working less and becoming more concerned with thoughts of ribbons and sugar. After she is
confronted by Clover, Mollie disappears from the farm. Later she is seen by the pigeons when she is pulling a
human’s cart on the other side of Willingdon. She is never mentioned again. The weather also presents a
problem. The winter is bitterly cold, and the pigs make plans for spring planting. Napoleon and Snowball
disagree at every point. During their debates, the sheep break into chants of “Four legs good, two legs bad,”
at the most crucial moments of Snowball’s speeches.
Another source of disagreement between the two pigs is the defense of the farm. Snowball wants to stir up
rebellions on the other farms by sending more pigeons to sow the seed of revolution. Napoleon wants to
fortify from within, securing weapons and training the farm animals.
The biggest controversy stems from Snowball’s plans to build a windmill. He paints a picture of a new
Animal Farm, powered by electricity produced by the windmill. He promises the animals heated stalls,
modern machinery to make their lives easier, and a three-day work week. Napoleon is completely opposed to
his plans, calling instead for increased food production on the farm. The animals are deeply divided on the
subject. Only Benjamin believes that nothing will change and that, windmill or not, things will continue to go
On the day of the vote, Napoleon calls the plans for the windmill “nonsense” and advises the animals to vote
against it. Snowball, on the other hand, delivers an impassioned speech, painting a picture of Animal Farm as
it might be when the animals no longer have to work. Just as the animals are about to vote in favor of the
windmill, Napoleon makes a high-pitched sound and nine enormous dogs rush in and chase after Snowball.
They are the nine puppies taken from their mothers and secretly raised by Napoleon. The startled Snowball
runs for his life and barely escapes through the hedge. He is seen no more.
After Snowball is chased off the farm, Napoleon surrounds himself with the nine dogs, who wag their tails at
him the way other dogs had once done to Jones. From the raised platform where Old Major once spoke,
Napoleon, with Squealer and Minimus (a pig who has a gift for composing songs and poems) at his side,
announces that the Sunday morning meetings will come to an end since they are an unnecessary waste of
time. A special committee of pigs will make all the work plans in the future. Some of the animals try to
protest and four porkers utter squeals of disapproval, but the growling dogs and the bleating sheep end any
chance of discussion. Later, Squealer explains that Napoleon’s decision to take on the extra responsibilities of
running the farm is to prevent the animals from making “wrong decisions.” He hints that Snowball was not a
hero, as they all thought, and he says that if the animals don’t go along with the new orders, Jones will come
back. That makes further protest useless.
Boxer accepts it all without question. He adopts a new maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” in addition to his
private motto of “I will work harder.” Old Major’s skull is mounted by the flagstaff, and the animals march
past it every Sunday before receiving their work orders for the week from the pigs.
Chapter V Summary and Analysis 16
Three weeks later Napoleon announces that work on the windmill will go on as planned. It will take two
years. Squealer tells the confused animals that the plans for the windmill were not Snowball’s, but actually
Napoleon’s, and that Napoleon was never really opposed to the windmill. He says that the project will require
harder work and reduced rations for all of the animals, except, of course, the pigs.
Chapter V begins with the hope of a better future for the animals, but it ends with hopelessness, the
termination of the Sunday morning meetings, strict control by a select committee of pigs, and with Napoleon
becoming a total dictator. Mollie, dissatisfied with events, cannot accept the new order and the loss of the
privileges that she had enjoyed under Jones. She was never really committed to the cause of the Rebellion,
and at the first opportunity she escapes, choosing to pull a cart for a human in exchange for ribbons and lump
sugar. From a historical perspective, Mollie represents those thousands of Russians who fled their country
after the Revolution and during the uncertain years of civil war that followed.
In the early 1920s, while Lenin’s health was failing and his leadership faltering, Leon Trotsky and Josef
Stalin were in a struggle for control of the Communist party. Those who had the opportunity flooded into
Europe and the United States, often leaving behind what wealth they had, satisfied with just saving their lives.
Many of these refugees, titled aristocrats under the Tsar, were forced to drive taxis, operate elevators, or open
tea rooms to survive.
Benjamin shows his dissatisfaction with the deteriorating conditions on the farm by his cynicism. Although he
knows that nothing will change for the animals, unlike Mollie, he chooses to remain where he is and preserve
himself by taking the path of least resistance.
Although Napoleon and Snowball disagree on everything, it is the windmill, the modernization and
industrialization of Animal Farm, that brings their conflict to a head. For Snowball, who too gets caught up in
his own dreams, the windmill is a promise of leisure time for everyone, provided by electrical power that will
run the machines and do the hard work presently done by the animals. Historically, the windmill represents
the early attempts after the Revolution to bring Russia into the 20th Century through a series of Five Year
Plans. These plans were aimed at building roads, dams, hydroelectric plants and factories, and increasing farm
While Snowball focuses on the power of the windmill, Napoleon is concerned with another kind of power, his
personal power and control of the farm and the other animals. His ability to achieve his goal of dominance
hinges on the dogs. When Napoleon unleashes them and runs Snowball off the farm, he has accomplished two
things. He eliminates the competition, and he has at his disposal the enormous power of nine dogs who are
blindly faithful only to him. Now, besides the fear that Jones will return, the animals have something more
tangible to worry about, the dogs. Any insurrection, protest, or even the slightest disagreement with Napoleon
could violently end their lives. The fact that Napoleon performs an about-face on the windmill is easily
explained by Squealer, who simply rewrites history. According to Squealer’s account, Napoleon was never
opposed to the windmill; it was his idea in the first place. And as to the other changes in policy, Squealer
easily convinces the animals that the unselfish Napoleon is doing it all for the greater good of the farm.
Squealer even begins the campaign of discrediting Snowball’s achievements before he was expelled. He tells
the animals, “And as to the Battle of the Cowshed, I believe the time will come when we shall find that
Snowball’s part in it was much exaggerated.” The confused and frightened cannot protest. They have no
choice but acceptance.
The split between Trotsky and Stalin intensified after the death of Lenin. In a series of political maneuvers,
Stalin had Trotsky and his followers expelled from the Communist Party and drove his political enemy into
exile. Later, a campaign to discredit Trotsky was launched in the Soviet Union. Trotsky’s achievements
during the Revolution were erased in a rewriting of Russian history books, and his name remains expunged
Chapter V Summary and Analysis 17
from Soviet histories to this day. Although Orwell’s account of events only depicts Trotsky’s exile, the
banished Soviet revolutionary spent time organizing supporters in Europe. A brigade of Trotskyites, Orwell
among them, fought in the Spanish Civil War against the forces of Francisco Franco. Eventually, Trotsky
came to New York where he founded the Communist newspaper the Daily Worker. He later fled to Mexico
City and was assassinated by an agent of the Soviet Secret Police. In the book, the dogs represent the Secret
Police whom Stalin used to crush his political opponents and take total control of the country.
Chapter VI Summary and Analysis
New Character:
Mr. Whymper: human solicitor (lawyer) from Willingdon who acts as intermediary between Animal Farm and
the outside world
Life for the animals begins to get worse. They work harder and longer, 60 hours a week, including Sundays.
Boxer is the key to finishing the windmill. He gets up three-quarters of an hour earlier every morning to haul a
load of stones from the quarry. Even Benjamin, yolked together with Muriel the goat, does his share. But the
routine work on the farm is neglected and shortages develop. One Sunday morning as the animals are waiting
to get their orders from the pigs, Napoleon announces that he will begin trade with neighboring farms in order
to get money for the supplies they need and for the windmill. Despite food shortages, Napoleon has contracted
to sell a stack of hay and some of the wheat crop. If more money is needed, the chickens will have to make a
sacrifice and hand over their eggs for sale in Willingdon. The animals are uneasy about the decision,
remembering resolutions that were passed against trade with the humans at the first meeting after Jones was
expelled. But their weak protest are useless. Objections from the four porkers, who complained when
Napoleon abolished the Sunday meetings, are silenced by the growling dogs and the bleating of the sheep.
Squealer addresses the animals’ concerns regarding the arrangements. He tells them that anti-trade
resolutions were never passed at any of the meetings, or even suggested. He blames the animals’ confusion in
the matter on lies circulated by Snowball. Napoleon employs Mr. Whymper, a solicitor from Willingdon, as
his intermediary, and the pigs begin trading with the outside world.
Jones gives up all hope of recovering his farm and fades from the picture. Napoleon, through Whymper,
begins negotiations with Pilkington and Frederick, playing one against the other, to close a big deal.
The pigs move into the farmhouse because they are the brains of the farm and need a quiet place to work.
Squealer convinces the animals that the farmhouse is more suitable to the dignity of Napoleon whom he calls
“Leader.” When the animals learn that the pigs are sleeping in beds, Clover thinks she remembers that a
commandment directly forbids it. But when Muriel reads what is written on the barn wall, they realize that
they are wrong. The commandment says, “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” Squealer easily
explains that the warning was never against beds which are just like the animals’ stalls, a place to sleep. The
commandment is against sheets, a human invention. Once again, Squealer links the pigs’ getting special
privileges with keeping Jones off the farm.
A violent windstorm knocks down the almost-completed windmill, but Napoleon blames it on Snowball. He
declares Snowball an enemy and a traitor and pronounces the death sentence on him. He offers a medal and
extra food to the animal who brings Snowball to justice. Any animal’s doubts about Snowball melt away
when pig footprints are discovered leading in the direction of Foxwood Farm. Napoleon sniffs them and says
they are Snowball’s. The loss of the windmill will make their already-difficult lives even more difficult, but
Napoleon plans to rebuild it at any cost.
Chapter VI Summary and Analysis 18
Orwell’s tongue-in-cheek irony is apparent throughout, but especially in the opening lines of Chapter VI:
All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged
no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything that they did was for the benefit of
themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle,
thieving human beings.
The animals are not aware that all of their hard work and their sacrifices are now benefiting a pack of idle
pigs. With Snowball gone and Napoleon in complete control, the changes on Animal Farm are coming fast.
Building the windmill requires longer hours and the animals’ work week is up to 60 hours. Sunday work is
strictly “voluntary,” but any animal who doesn’t volunteer has his food rations cut in half. And because of
the push to complete the windmill, the farm is neglected. Shortages necessitate trade with humans which
causes another violation of the “unalterable” commandments of Animal Farm. The needs of Napoleon and
the farm afford the lawyer, Whymper, an opportunity for personal gain. The human, Whymper, represents
those opportunists who made the most of the hardships and famine in Russia in 1921-22 and 1932-33. Against
world opinion and organized efforts to sit back and watch the Communists starve themselves out of existence,
capitalists, including manufacturers in the United States, engaged in trade with the Soviet Union and made
large profits.
Squealer’s importance to Napoleon’s goals is apparent. He heads off any animal protest by rewriting history.
There was never a resolution against engaging in trade with the humans. The Fourth Commandment is aimed
at sheets and not beds. He is so convincing when he says, “We have removed the sheets from the farmhouse
beds, and sleep between blankets” that no one questions the fact that blankets are also a human invention. As
with the milk and the apples, the animals are told that the pigs sleeping in beds is keeping Jones off the farm.
Squealer represents propaganda. In the Soviet Union it was used to influence public opinion, to re-educate,
and to indoctrinate. Even history books were rewritten to present a more acceptable account of events. And if
Squealer’s “logic” fails, there are the growling dogs, ready to use force when it becomes necessary.
In this chapter Napoleon makes Snowball the “scapegoat” for all the problems on Animal Farm. A scapegoat
is a person or group that is blamed for whatever goes wrong in a society. Finding a scapegoat focuses
attention away from the real problem, and it unifies the energies of a society against a common enemy and
what they perceive to be the cause of all their suffering. In Animal Farm this is Snowball. Squealer attributes
the animals’ confusion regarding trade with the humans to Snowball’s lies. In actuality, the windmill is
blown down because of faulty plans; the walls are too thin. Since Napoleon took credit for the plans, he
should be blamed for the disaster. But by shifting the guilt and making Snowball the villain, Napoleon appears
blameless, and Snowball becomes a traitor and an enemy of Animal Farm.
Chapter VII Summary and Analysis
It is bitter winter and the food is in short supply. Corn rations are cut and much of the potato crop is spoiled
by the frost. Starvation stares animals in the face. To conceal their hardships from the outside world,
Napoleon tricks Whymper on his weekly visits to the farm into believing the farm is prospering. In
Whymper’s hearing, the sheep talk about an increase in their rations. Empty food bins are filled with sand
and topped with meal to give him the impression that there is an abundance of food.
During this time Napoleon is rarely seen by the animals, even on Sunday mornings, and when he does come
out of the farmhouse, he is surrounded by six fierce dogs.
Chapter VII Summary and Analysis 19
In January, with conditions growing worse, Squealer announces that the hens must surrender their eggs for
sale. Napoleon and Whymper have entered into an agreement to sell 400 eggs a week. The hens object, calling
the sale of their eggs murder, and three Black Minorca pullets lead a rebellion against Napoleon’s orders.
They lay their eggs in the rafters and smash them to the floor rather than turn them over for sale. Napoleon
cuts off their rations and decrees that any animal who gives them even one grain of corn will be put to death.
The hens hold out for five days but then give in and surrender their eggs. Each week Whymper comes to
collect 400 eggs as agreed.
Frederick and Pilkington are anxious to buy a pile of timber that had been cut and stacked 10 years earlier.
When negotiations are going well with one farmer, a rumor is circulated around the farm that Snowball is
working with the other. Then, in the early spring, the pigs announce that Snowball is coming onto the farm
each night and causing trouble, knocking over milk pails and breaking eggs. Whenever anything goes wrong
on the farm, it is attributed to Snowball. Napoleon calls for an investigation of Snowball’s activities, and
Squealer tells the frightened animals that Snowball is planning to guide the humans in another attack on
Animal Farm. Squealer calls Snowball a traitor to Animal Farm and a secret agent of Mr. Jones. He says that
Snowball was prevented from turning the farm over to Jones during the Battle of the Cowshed by Napoleon’s
bravery. When Boxer questions Squealer’s account of the events, he is told, “Our Leader, Comrade
Napoleon…has stated categorically…that Snowball was Jones’s agent from the very beginning…and from long
before the Rebellion was ever thought of.” Although Boxer ultimately changes his mind after Squealer’s
account, Squealer eyes him with suspicion and regards him as a possible troublemaker.
When the animals are assembled in the yard, Napoleon, who has awarded himself both “Animal Hero, First
Class” and “Animal Hero, Second Class” medals, has the dogs round up the animals who have caused him
problems. These include the three hens who organized the mutiny over the eggs, the four porkers who
questioned Napoleon’s decision to end the Sunday morning meetings, and even Boxer who comes under
attack by the dogs. But Boxer’s strength is too much and he fights off the dogs. The others, however, after
confessing to crimes against Animal Farm, are killed by having their throats ripped out by the dogs. More and
more animals step forward to reveal plots with Snowball, only to be killed by the frenzied dogs.
Clover, like the other animals, is confused by what she has witnessed. She is sure that events are not unfolding
as the animals intended when Jones was expelled, but she will continue to support Napoleon. As bad as things
are, she still believes that the lives of the animals are better than they were under Jones.
In the final pages of the chapter, Napoleon forbids the singing of Beasts of England because the revolution is
over and the song is no longer necessary. It is replaced by another song composed by Minimus: “Animal
Farm, Animal Farm,/Never through me shalt thou come to harm!”
Napoleon’s brutality is the major focus of this chapter. Conditions grow worse as a result of bad weather and
poor planning, and the animals are called upon to make more sacrifices. The hens refuse to turn over their
eggs for sale because it is the equivalent of murdering their unborn clutches. For the first time there is
indication of another revolution on the farm. But Napoleon, using the dogs, ruthlessly starves them out. Nine
hens are killed in the process of imposing his will. Historically, the Mutiny of the Hens represents the reaction
of large numbers of Russian peasants who rebelled against Stalin’s First Five-Year Plan. They chose to burn
their crops and slaughter their livestock in a time of famine, rather than turn them over for sale to foreign
No one was safe on Animal Farm. Even the loyal and faithful Boxer comes under suspicion and attack when
he questions Squealer’s latest allegations against Snowball. Most brutal is the scene of confessions and
murder. Conveniently, all of Napoleon’s “enemies” publicly admit their crimes and are executed. It might
appear implausible that animals who didn’t engage in these activities would confess, knowing they were to be
Chapter VII Summary and Analysis 20
killed. The story is an allegory, and Orwell is portraying the “Great Purge of 1937-38,” a time when Stalin
cleared out suspected enemies from the government. In public trials, prominent Russian leaders made public
confessions to “crimes against the state.” Many of the confessions were forced by threats against family
members or torture. Later the “guilty” were exiled to labor camps or executed. The casualties of Stalin’s
purges during this time have been estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
Interestingly, in this chapter, Orwell deviates from his impersonal third-person narrative point of view, which
relates events without commentary or emotion. For the first time, he takes the reader into the mind of one of
the characters. After the murders, the reader is given insight into Clover’s feelings, and through Clover, into
the minds and the thoughts of the other animals. Clover is confused and afraid but lacks the ability to convey
her feelings to the others. In her heart she still believes that she is better off under Napoleon than under Jones.
The causes for her inaction are her ignorance, inertia, and fear. This best explains why the animals on Animal
Farm never resist, and perhaps it explains why the Russian people never rebelled against Stalin, the man who
subverted their revolution.
Chapter VIII Summary and Analysis
After the terror of the executions dies down, Clover, recalling that the Sixth Commandment forbade killing,
asks Muriel to read what is written on the barn. The Commandment clearly states, “No animal shall kill
another animal without cause.”
Work on the second windmill goes on, along with the regular work of the farm. To the animals it seems as if
they are working harder and being fed less than when they worked for Jones. Every Sunday Squealer reads
from a long list of figures that prove how production is increasing, but the animals would prefer fewer figures
and more food.
Napoleon appears in public less and less often, and when he does, it is always with his dogs. A black cockerel
marches in front of him and cock-a-doodle-doos before Napoleon speaks. The animals refer to him formally
as “our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,” “Father of All Animals,” “Terror of Mankind,” “Protector of the
Sheep-fold,” and “Ducklings’ Friend.” Minimus, the pig, even composes a poem in Napoleon’s honor,
which is inscribed on the barn wall opposite the Seven Commandments.
Through Whymper, negotiations for the sale of the pile of timber continue with Pilkington and Frederick.
Rumors are renewed that Snowball is working with Frederick, and that they have plans to invade Animal
Farm and blow up the windmill. Three chickens confess to conspiring with Snowball in a plot to murder
Napoleon. The chickens are quickly executed and precautions are taken for their leader’s safety. Snowball is
blamed for mixing weeds with the wheat crop. The animals learn that he never received the “Animal Hero,
First Class” medal after the Battle of the Cowshed; it was merely a legend spread by Snowball himself.
As relations with Frederick grow worse, relations with Pilkington become almost friendly. The pigeons, who
were still sent out to spread “tidings of the Rebellion,” are forbidden to set foot on Foxwood Farm and
concentrate on Pinchfield Farm. They are ordered to drop their former slogan of “Death to Humanity” in
favor of “Death to Frederick.”
In the autumn, the windmill is completed and the animals are proud of their achievement. Napoleon
announces that it will be called “Napoleon Mill.” Two days later he tells the assembled animals that the
woodpile has been sold to Frederick and that all relations with Foxwood Farm have been broken off. The
slogan “Death to Pilkington” replaces “Death to Frederick.” The animals are told that the rumors (spread by
Snowball) about an attack by Frederick were false. Payment for the timber, in five pound notes, would be
Chapter VIII Summary and Analysis 21
enough to buy the machinery for the new windmill. At a special meeting, the animals file slowly past the pile
of money as Napoleon, wearing both his decorations reposes on a bed of straw on the platform. Their
procession is almost religious in nature—worship of the bank notes. But three days after Frederick’s men
remove the wood, Whymper brings word to Napoleon that the bank notes are forgeries and that Frederick has
stolen the wood.
The next morning Frederick and his men, armed with half a dozen guns, attack the farm. Many animals are
wounded and others hide in the farm buildings. Napoleon sends a message to Pilkington begging for help, but
his response is, “Serves you right.” As the frightened animals watch, Frederick packs blasting powder into
the base of the windmill and blows it up. The animals’ fear turns to rage and they attack the humans, driving
them off the farm, though at great cost. Even Napoleon’s tail is wounded. All traces of the windmill are gone,
and the blast has scattered the stones and all their hard work. Squealer proclaims the event a great victory for
the animals, and the gun is fired to celebrate the Battle of the Windmill, as the “victory” is called.
A few days later the pigs discover a case of whisky in the cellar of the farmhouse. That night there are strange
sounds of singing and celebrating. Napoleon, wearing Jones’s bowler hat, is seen galloping around the yard.
The next morning, when Squealer makes his appearance at nine o’clock, he tells the assembled animals that
Napoleon is dying, that Snowball put poison in his food. At eleven o’clock Napoleon pronounces the death
sentence on anyone who drinks alcohol. But in the evening, when he is better, he sends Whymper into town to
get books on brewing and distilling alcohol.
One night Squealer is found with an overturned paint pot and a paint brush at the foot of a broken ladder near
the wall of the barn. The dogs escort him quickly back into the farmhouse. When the animals, who vaguely
remember a Commandment about drinking, check the barn, the Fifth Commandment now reads, “No animal
shall drink alcohol to excess.”
Historically, the chapter deals with Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and the early years
leading up to the beginning of World War II. The animals’ one success in the face of overwhelming
hardships, the completion of the second windmill, is short-lived. After he lulls Napoleon into a false sense of
security, Frederick succeeds in stealing the woodpile by paying for it with forged bank notes. Frederick adds
insult to injury when he and his men invade Animal Farm. The animals’ sacrifice has been for nothing as they
watch the blast of dynamite destroy the windmill and scatter all of their hard work. The agreement between
Napoleon and Frederick for the sale of the woodpile suggests the Stalin-Hitler Pact signed in 1939. This
political alliance of two dictators, Hitler and Stalin, alarmed Europe and the United States. It enabled
Germany to expand its territory by dividing parts of Central Europe with the Soviets. The pact secured
Hitler’s eastern border, allowing him to turn his attention to Western Europe and begin what would become
World War II. After a series of German successes in Poland, France, and the British Army’s retreat from
Dunkirk, Germany invaded Russia in 1941. This is represented by the Battle of the Windmill. The forged
bank notes are Orwell’s way of satirizing the worthless treaty. Hitler’s Russian Campaign was at first
successful as the highly mechanized German Army fought to within miles of Moscow. But the determination
of the Soviet people and the severity of the Russian winter slowed and eventually stopped the invasion. The
war on the Russian Front was responsible for millions of Russian casualties. Published reports indicated that
the fighting was so fierce, hardly a family was spared. It is something Orwell alludes to when he says, “Even
Napoleon, who was directing operations from the rear, had the tip of his tail chipped by a pellet.” But
Squealer is able to turn even the terrible defeat at the Battle of the Windmill into victory by simply
proclaiming it so.
In addition to the battle, the chapter focuses on the changes that continue to occur on the farm. After the terror
of the purges, the animals think they remember that the Sixth Commandment expressly forbids one animal
killing another. It was a point emphasized by Old Major when he first addressed the animals. But when Muriel
Chapter VIII Summary and Analysis 22
reads what is written on the barn, the animals realize that they are again mistaken. Killing is permitted for the
right reasons, and Napoleon can determine what those reasons are. Once again Squealer has succeeded in
changing history. There are other changes too, as the animals have come to regard Napoleon, their new
“master” much in the same way they once regarded Jones. Napoleon is distant and aloof, even inhabiting a
separate apartment from the rest of the pigs in the farmhouse. He takes his meals alone, eating off fine china,
with two dogs in waiting. He never associates with the “lower” animals. As his newly created titles suggest,
he has grown far above any of the other animals on the farm. Napoleon rarely appears in public, but when he
does, he is protected by his dogs who have become his personal bodyguards.
The campaign to malign Snowball’s reputation picks up momentum, and it now appears that things are even
worse than any of the animals could imagine. Squealer reports that recently discovered documents reveal that
the hero of the Battle of the Cowshed isn’t a hero at all. Snowball is proclaimed a traitor against Animal
Farm, in league with the humans from the beginning. Even now, Squealer assures the animals, Snowball is
preparing to lead another human attack on the farm.
When the pigs discover alcohol, another step is taken in their journey to become more and more like man. At
first the negative effects of consuming a case of whiskey make Napoleon sick. But when he recovers from his
hangover, his attentions turn toward producing his own alcohol. The field, once intended as a grazing ground
for retired animals, is to be sown with barley for the pigs’ beer. Thus, another of the “unalterable”
commandments has been changed to suit Napoleon.
Chapter IX Summary and Analysis
Work begins on rebuilding the windmill. Boxer, injured in the Battle of the Windmill, refuses to take even a
day off from work. Clover and Benjamin are concerned about his failing health. Boxer’s hope is that he can
see the windmill well under way before his retirement. Although when the Rebellion first occurred there were
plans to retire the animals, as yet, no animal had actually retired. The pasture, originally set aside for this
purpose, is now being used to grow barley for the pigs.
Winter is severe and the rations are reduced, except for the pigs and the dogs. Squealer calls it a
“readjustment.” He tells the hungry animals that reducing everyone’s rations would be against the
fundamental principles of Animalism. He proves to them logically, by reading out a list of figures, that these
is no food shortage, and that their lives are better than they ever were under Jones. But the memory of Jones
has faded from their minds. There is an increase in the population among the pigs on the farm, and it is
apparent that Napoleon, the only boar on the farm, is the sire. Plans are made to build a school to educate
them. It becomes a rule that when any animal meets a pig on the path, they must step aside in deference to the
pig. Rations, “readjusted” in December, are reduced again in February, and the pigs begin brewing their own
To make up for the hardships, there are more songs, more speeches and more parades, which are called
“Spontaneous Demonstrations.” The pigs lead the others around the farm carrying banners in honor of
In April the farm is proclaimed a Republic and Napoleon is elected president. On the same day, Squealer tells
the animals that documents have been found that link Snowball and Jones from the beginning, and prove that
Snowball openly fought on Jones’s side. In fact, according to the documents, Snowball was the leader of the
human forces and had led a charge against the animals with the words, “Long live Humanity!”
Chapter IX Summary and Analysis 23
Moses, the raven, returns to Animal Farm with his tales about Sugarcandy Mountain, which he tells to the
starving, overworked animals. His visions of the place where they will go when they die keep the believing
animals happy. Although the pigs declare his stories to be lies, they allow him to remain without working, and
they give him an allowance of beer every day.
Boxer’s lung collapses while he is working on the windmill. Benjamin hopes that he and Boxer will both be
allowed to retire and spend their last days as companions. Squealer convinces the concerned animals that
Boxer will be treated in the hospital in Willingdon, and for two days Boxer remains in his stall, taking
medicine found in the farmhouse. When a horse cart comes to remove Boxer, Benjamin, who can read as well
as any of the pigs, reads the sign on the cart to the assembled animals. “Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer
and Glue Boiler, Willingdon, Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.” The animals alert Boxer,
but in his weakened state, he cannot escape; he is carried off the farm and never seen again. Three days later it
is announced that Boxer died in the hospital after receiving the best care. Squealer’s account of Boxer’s last
hours, and his explanation about the cart, allay the animals’ concerns. He says that it had once belonged to
the knacker, but was bought by the veterinary surgeon who had not yet had time to paint over the old name. A
wreath of laurels from the garden is sent to be laid on Boxer’s grave, and the pigs plan a private memorial
service for their fallen comrade. The animals are glad that Boxer died happy. On the day of the banquet, a
grocer’s van delivers another crate of whiskey to the farmhouse and the pigs celebrate.
This is the climactic chapter in the novel. It is here, more than in any place, that the Old Major’s dream of the
revolution is betrayed. The ideals of the Rebellion are a dim memory for most of the animals, and the living
conditions under Jones have all but faded from their minds. Napoleon and the pigs have established
themselves as the new aristocracy, and have decorated themselves with ribbons. The once-hoped-for utopian
society has given way to new elitism. Pigs are the new masters, and when an animal passes a pig, the animal
must stand aside. There are more pigs, Napoleon’s children, to be raised apart and educated in the new school
that the other animals will build for them. Even the memory of Snowball, the hero of the Battle of the
Cowshed, is gone, replaced by the image of a coward and a traitor, who fought against the animals and was
stopped only by Napoleon’s bravery.
There are a few diversions to keep the animals’ minds off their troubles. The pigs stage “Spontaneous
Demonstrations” filled with parades and songs and poems to commemorate Napoleon’s glories. And there is
Moses, who returns to the farm with his stories of Sugarcandy Mountain. Like the Russian Orthodox Church,
which was ridiculed and persecuted after the Communist Revolution, Moses had been chased from the farm.
But when living conditions grow worse, he is allowed back in to instill in the starving animals the hope for an
afterlife, and to keep them more manageable in this life. Karl Marx called religion the opiate of the people,
and Stalin used the reopened churches, filled with secret police and government agents, to soothe the
frustrations of the peasants, and as a source of information.
It is the sale of Boxer to the knacker that reveals how evil Napoleon has become. In Chapter I, Old Major
predicts that Jones will sell out even the loyal Boxer when he is no longer productive; but it is Napoleon who
fulfills the prophecy. Boxer, Napoleon’s greatest supporter, the farm’s hardest and most faithful worker, the
hero of the Battle of the Cowshed, and the main force in the building and rebuilding of the windmill, is sold
for enough money to buy the pigs a case of whiskey. The revolution is over, its ideals betrayed by Napoleon
and the pigs.
Chapter X Summary and Analysis
Years pass and most of the old animals who fought in the Rebellion are gone. Muriel, Bluebell, Jessie, and
Chapter X Summary and Analysis 24
Pincher are dead, and so is Mr. Jones. Snowball is forgotten, and Boxer is forgotten. Only Benjamin is much
the same, only older, sadder, and more quiet. The young animals possess none of the ideals that inspired the
Rebellion. They accept everything that they are told about the Rebellion and the principles of Animalism
without question. The farm is more prosperous, enlarged by two fields bought from Mr. Pilkington. Mr.
Whymper has made a handsome profit from his work as Napoleon’s agent. The completed windmill has
never provided the luxuries promised by Snowball. It is used instead for milling corn, which brings in a
handsome profit for the pigs. The lives of the animals have become even harder. They are hungry most of the
time. They sleep on straw, labor in the fields, and drink from the pool. In the winter they are cold, and in the
summer they are bothered by flies. But Squealer’s endless list of figures indicates that their lives are better.
It’s good to be a pig, and there are more of them. They are the administrators who insure the working of the
farm. They make countless files, reports, minutes, and memoranda on large pieces of paper which they burn
as soon as they are filled. But the animals haven’t given up hope. The Republic of the Animals, which Old
Major had foretold, is still believed.
In early summer, Squealer takes the sheep to an isolated part of the farm where they remain for a whole week.
It is just after their return that the animals see the pigs, including Napoleon, who is holding a whip in his
trotter, walking around the farm on two legs. Just as some animals were about to utter some protest, the sheep
break into a loud bleating of “Four legs good, two legs better!” When Clover and Benjamin go to the barn to
see if the Seven Commandments have changed, Benjamin, for the first time consents to read what is printed
on the wall. There is only one commandment which says, “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME
After this the pigs buy a wireless radio, a telephone, and subscriptions to newspapers, and they begin wearing
clothes from Mr. Jones’s wardrobe.
A week later a deputation of neighboring farmers is invited to tour the farm. In the evening the humans and
the pigs are seated around a long table drinking and playing a friendly game of cards. Mr. Pilkington proposes
a toast to a new era of trust and cooperation between Animal Farm and it’s human neighbors. The animals
work harder and receive less food than any animals in the county, and Mr. Pilkington is impressed by this. He
plans to introduce on his own farm many of the practices he has witnessed there. He ends with the words, “To
the prosperity of Animal Farm.” Before returning the toast, Napoleon makes some minor corrections. He
announces that the animals will no longer refer to one another as comrade, the boar’s skull nailed to the post
in the garden has been buried, and the green flag has been changed by removing the hoof and horn. He tells
them that the name of the farm has been changed back to “The Manor Farm,” its correct and original name,
and that he looks forward to a future of trust and friendship with his human neighbors, Napoleon’s toast is,
“To the prosperity of The Manor Farm!” After the cheers, they resume their card game.
The confused animals, who have been watching it all through the window, slip quietly away. But before they
go 20 yards, they hear a great uproar from the farmhouse. Rushing back, they see a violent quarrel in progress.
The trouble stems from Napoleon and Pilkington simultaneously playing an ace of spades. As the animals
look from man to pig, they can see no difference between the faces of the humans and the faces of the pigs.
With the passage of time, many of those who fought in the Rebellion are dead and forgotten. The new animals
have only a dim tradition passed on by word of mouth. The memories of the older animals have been so
altered by Squealer’s revisions of history that it is impossible to know what is real.
With the prosperity of Animal Farm, only the pigs and the dogs have flourished. But the naive animals still
have faith they will be part of the great Animal Republic Old Major once promised. Even when the pigs begin
walking on two legs, there can be no protest. The sheep’s new slogan (Or is it the slogan they always bleated?
The animals can’t remember.) convinces them that walking on two legs has always been preferable to
Chapter X Summary and Analysis 25
walking on four.
The final example of Squealer’s “double speak” can be seen when the Seven Commandments are changed
into one. Of course all animals are equal. But the pigs are more equal than the others. They are now the
masters who carry the whips and live in the house and wear clothes. They have become the new aristocracy.
Equality equals inequality.
Orwell’s final irony is witnessed when the humans come to visit the farm. They openly refer to the farm
animals as “lower” animals, and they observe them working harder and longer for less food than any other
animals in the county. The changes announced by Napoleon to Pilkington, their pledges of trust, and talk of a
new era of understanding between Animal Farm and its neighbors serve to show that there is now little
difference between pig and man. This forced friendship is Orwell’s way of showing the uneasy alliance
between Russia and the Allies after the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany. Great Britain, France,
and the United States may have been fighting on the same side with Stalin and the Soviets, but there was no
trust. Ironically, the words of their toast are hardly finished when someone cheats in the card game. The
animals looking in the window cannot tell the difference between the men and the pigs. They no longer need
to fear that Jones will come back to make their difficult lives miserable; he has already come back in the form
of Napoleon and the pigs.
Animal Farm: Quizzes
Chapter I Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. What is the setting for the story?
2. What four characteristics are noted about Boxer the horse?
3. What comment does Benjamin the donkey make that shows his cynicism and bad temper?
4. How does Clover help the other animals at the meeting?
5. What does Old Major say is the reason the animals have such miserable lives?
6. What is Major’s prediction about Boxer.
7. What decision is made concerning the status of wild creatures such as rats and rabbits?
8. What is the name of the song Old Major teaches the animals?
9. What are the main ideas expressed in Major’s speech?
10. What indications does Orwell give in this chapter that indicate the pigs may be superior to the other
1. The setting is the Manor Farm in England.
2. Boxer is an enormous horse. He is respected for his steadiness of character, as well as his tremendous
powers and his ability to work. But he is not of first-rate intelligence.
Animal Farm: Quizzes 26
3. He says that God gave him a tail to keep off the flies, but he would rather have no tail and no flies.
4. Clover protects the lost ducklings by making a wall around them with her legs to keep them from getting
trampled by the others.
5. Old Major identifies man as the cause of all the animals’ problems. Man takes without producing, and he
controls the miserable lives of the animals.
6. Old Major predicts that Jones will sell Boxer to the horse slaughterer the day his muscles lose their power
and he is no longer useful to Jones.
7. A vote is taken and it is decided that the wild creatures such as rats and rabbits are “comrades.”
8. The song is called Beasts of England, and it will later become the song of the Rebellion.
9. The main ideas of his speech include the concepts that man is the enemy and all animals are friends. He
warns the animals not to become like man, live in houses, wear clothes, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, touch
money, or engage in trade. He says that all animals are brothers, all are equal, and one animal must never
tyrannize over his own kind.
10. The pigs sit down in the front row before Major’s platform. They are described as being more clever than
the other animals, and are able to memorize all the words of Beasts of England.
Chapter II Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. What happens to Old Major?
2. Who are Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer?
3. What qualities do they each possess?
4. What are some of the problems the pigs have to face in organizing the other farm animals?
5. Who is Moses and what role does he play on the farm?
6. What is Sugarcandy Mountain?
7. What is the immediate cause of the Rebellion?
8. What are the immediate results of the Rebellion?
9. What are the Seven Commandments?
10. What early indication does Orwell give to show that not all of the animals are treated equally?
1. Old Major dies peacefully in his sleep.
Chapter I Questions and Answers 27
2. Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer are the three pig leaders who assume the roles of teaching Old Major’s
ideas to the other animals.
3. Napoleon is large and fierce, not much of a talker, but accustomed to getting his way. Snowball is
vivacious, quick in speech and inventive, but lacking Napoleon’s “depth of character.” Squealer is a brilliant
talker, who is persuasive and capable of turning black into white.
4. Some of the animals feel a duty of loyalty to Jones as the master who feeds them. Some of the animals are
indifferent about some vague future rebellion. Some animals are concerned for their own personal comforts.
5. Moses is the tame raven, a special pet of Jones, who feeds him bread soaked in beer. Moses is a spy for
6. Moses tells the animals about Sugarcandy Mountain, a country full of clover, sugar, and linseed cakes. He
says it is where the animals will go when they die.
7. Jones has neglected the animals, drinking rather than working the farm. His farm hands go hunting one day,
and the animals are left without food.
8. Jones and his men are driven off the farm. The animals bury the bodies of their slaughtered comrades and
burn the things Jones used to control the animals. They change the name from “Manor Farm” to “Animal
Farm” and write the Seven Commandments on the barn wall.
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.
10. Instead of being shared equally among all of the animals, the milk disappears. It is implied that Napoleon
takes it for himself.
Chapter III Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. What is the result of the harvest after the Rebellion and why?
2. What part do the pigs play in the harvest?
3. What is Boxer’s personal motto?
4. What is the attitude of Mollie and the cat toward work on the farm?
5. What is Benjamin’s attitude after the rebellion?
6. What is Benjamin fond of saying and what does it mean?
Chapter II Questions and Answers 28
7. What committees does Snowball organize on the farm?
8. What is the maxim that Snowball teaches the sheep?
9. How does Napoleon deal with “the education of the young”?
10. What happened to the milk taken from the cows, and how does Squealer explain this to the other animals?
1. Immediately after the Rebellion, the harvest is better than it ever was under Jones because all of the animals
(with few exceptions) work hard for their own food.
2. The pigs are the supervisors, directing the other animals in their work.
3. Boxer’s personal motto is, “I will work harder.”
4. Mollie gets to work late and makes excuses to leave early, and the cat disappears whenever there is work to
be done. She reappears at meal time with such good excuses and purrs so affectionately that the others believe
her good intentions.
5. Benjamin remains unchanged, cynical, and obstinate. He does no more and no less than he has to do.
6. Benjamin says, “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.” He is the oldest
animal on the farm and he plans to do whatever is necessary to stay alive.
7. Snowball forms the “Egg Production Committee” for the hens, the “Clean Tails League” for the cows, the
“Wild Comrades’ Re-education Committee” to tame the rats and rabbits, and the “Whiter Wool Movement”
for the sheep, and institutes classes in reading and writing.
8. Their maxim is “Four legs good, two legs bad,” which they bleat for hours at a time.
9. He takes the nine puppies and makes himself responsible for their education. After a while, the other
animals forget all about the puppies.
10. The pigs get the milk as well as the apples. Squealer explains that it is necessary for the pigs to keep the
farm going. If they don’t get the milk and apples, Jones will come back.
Chapter IV Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. How does Mr. Jones spend most of his time after he is kicked off his farm?
2. Who is Mr. Pilkington and how does Orwell describe him?
3. Who is Mr. Frederick and how does Orwell describe him?
4. What is the typical relationship between these two men?
5. How do Foxwood Farm and Pinchfield Farm compare?
Chapter III Questions and Answers 29
6. How do the farmers try to discredit what is happening on Animal Farm?
7. What is the cause of the Battle of the Cowshed?
8. What is Snowball’s role in the battle?
9. What part does Boxer play in the battle?
10. What are the results of the Battle of the Cowshed?
1. After being kicked off his farm, Mr. Jones spends his days at the Red Lion Inn in Willingdon, complaining
to anyone who will listen of the injustice that was done to him.
2. Mr. Pilkington is one of Mr. Jones’s neighbors. The easygoing gentleman farmer and owner of Foxwood
Farm spends his time fishing and hunting.
3. Mr. Frederick is another neighbor and the owner of Pinchfield Farm. He is a tough, shrewd man with a
reputation for driving hard bargains and for suing his neighbors.
4. Pilkington and Frederick are on permanently bad terms with each other. They dislike one another so much
it is difficult for them to come to any agreement, even in their own best interests.
5. Foxwood is a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm, overgrown by woodland, with worn-out pastures and
hedges in a disgraceful condition. Pinchfield Farm is smaller than Foxwood but much better kept.
6. The farmers first laugh at the idea of a farm managed by animals. Then they make up stories about the
animals fighting among themselves and torturing each other. They say that the animals on the farm are
starving and practicing cannibalism.
7. Stories about the farm from which humans have been expelled circulate among the animals of the
neighboring farms. Bulls become savage, sheep break down hedges to eat clover, cows kick over pails, and
hunting horses refuse to jump over fences. Fearing more rebellions, the humans join forces with Mr. Jones in
an attempt to restore him as the rightful owner.
8. Snowball plans the military strategy. He launches a first wave that seems to retreat in panic. When the
humans chase after the animals, Snowball signals the main attack and the humans are defeated. In the battle,
Snowball is wounded by a shot from Mr. Jones’s gun.
9. Boxer is a terrifying figure, rearing on his hind legs and striking the humans. He injures a stablehand, who
later escapes.
10. As a result of the Battle of Cowshed, the humans are driven off in a decisive victory for the animals.
Boxer and Snowball are awarded “Animal Hero, First Class” medals for their parts in the battle. A sheep is
killed and posthumously awarded an “Animal Hero, Second Class” medal. Mr. Jones’s gun is set up under
the flagstaff to be fired twice a year: on Midsummer Day, the anniversary of the Rebellion, and on October
12, the anniversary of the Battle of the Cowshed.
Chapter IV Questions and Answers 30
Chapter V Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. Why does Clover confront Mollie?
2. What happens to Mollie?
3. How does Napoleon use the sheep’s bleating of “Four legs good, two legs bad” to his advantage?
4. What does Snowball see for the animals as a result of building the windmill?
5. How does Napoleon show his disapproval of Snowball’s plans?
6. What is Benjamin’s opinion of the windmill?
7. What happens to Snowball?
8. What changes on Animal Farm does Napoleon announce to the animals?
9. How does Squealer explain these changes and Napoleon’s intent to build the windmill after all?
10. How does Squealer try to undermine Snowball?
1. Clover questions Mollie after Mollie is seen standing near the hedge of Foxwood Farm with one of Mr.
Pilkington’s men stroking her nose. Clover later finds ribbons and sugar hidden in Mollie’s stall.
2. Mollie runs away from Animal Farm and the pigeons report seeing her pulling a cart for a human. The
animals never mention her again.
3. The sheep begin their bleating whenever Snowball tries to speak at the meetings, and he is unable to get his
ideas across to the other animals.
4. Snowball sees the windmill as a source of electric power and heat. He says it will run machinery and do the
work now done by the animals. Eventually, the animals’ work week would be reduced to three days.
5. Napoleon shows his contempt for the plans by urinating on them.
6. Benjamin doesn’t think anything will change for the animals. He says life will go on as it has always gone
7. Just as the animals are about to vote against Napoleon and adopt Snowball’s plans for the windmill,
Napoleon calls in the nine dogs. Snowball, barely getting through the hedge and escaping with his life, is run
off the farm.
8. Napoleon, surrounded by the dogs, announces that the Sunday morning meetings are to be abolished as they
are no longer necessary. Work schedules for the animals will be decided by a committee of pigs, but there will
be no votes. Napoleon also decides to go ahead with plans to build the windmill and warns that this task will
require extra work and a cut in the animals’ food rations.
Chapter V Questions and Answers 31
9. Squealer convinces the animals that Napoleon was never opposed to the windmill. He further states that the
plans were originally Napoleon’s. He says Napoleon’s actions are called “tactics.”
10. Squealer questions Snowball’s role in the Battle of the Cowshed. He questions his loyalty and says he
expects to find evidence that Snowball’s part in the battle was exaggerated.
Chapter VI Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. How did the lives of the animals become more difficult in the beginning of Chapter VI?
2. How does Boxer deal with these new difficulties?
3. How do conditions on the farm under Napoleon’s leadership compare to when Jones was
the owner?
4. Who is Mr. Whymper and why does he come to the farm?
5. How does Squealer address the animals’ concerns about engaging in trade with the humans?
6. What change occurs to the living conditions of the pigs?
7. What happens to the Fourth Commandment?
8. How does Squealer answer their questions concerning the Fourth Commandment?
9. What happens to the windmill?
10. What does Napoleon say happened to the windmill, and what does he do?
1. The animals have to work a 60 hour week, including Sundays, or their food rations are cut in half. The
harvest is less successful, and gathering stones for the windmill is hard work.
2. Boxer makes arrangements to get up three-quarters of an hour earlier so he can go to the quarry to collect a
load of broken stone for the windmill. His two slogans, “Napoleon is always right” and “I will work harder,”
help him to deal with the hardships.
3. In the summer, conditions were about the same. They had no more food, but they had no less. Later, there
were some shortages, including paraffin oil, nails, string, dog biscuits, and iron for the horses’ shoes. There
was also a need to buy seed and fertilizer, and tools and machinery for the windmill.
4. When Napoleon decides to trade with the humans, Mr. Whymper agrees to act as Napoleon’s agent to
secure the necessary supplies. Whymper sees it as an opportunity to make a large profit for himself.
5. Squealer assures them that a resolution against engaging in trade and using money was never passed or
even suggested. There is no proof it ever existed because it is not written down. He says the whole problem
can be traced to lies circulated by Snowball.
6. The pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds.
Chapter VI Questions and Answers 32
7. When Clover asks Muriel to read the commandment, it has been changed. It now says, “No animal shall
sleep in a bed with sheets.”
8. Squealer says that the commandment wasn’t against beds. It was against sheets which are a human
invention. Therefore, the pigs have removed the sheets and sleep on blankets. He adds the warning that Jones
will come back if the pigs don’t sleep on beds.
9. Because the walls were built too thin, the windmill blows down during a violent storm.
10. Napoleon blames the absent Snowball for knocking down the windmill. He pronounces the death sentence
on Snowball and offers an “Animal Hero, Second Class” and half a bushel of apples to the animal that brings
Snowball to justice.
Chapter VII Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. How do the animals plan to prevent the second windmill from being destroyed?
2. Besides the work on the windmill, what other hardships do the animals have to face in Chapter VII?
3. How does Napoleon hope to prevent the outside world from finding out about the food shortages on Animal
4. What is the cause of concern among the chickens?
5. How do the hens react to Napoleon’s news about the eggs?
6. How does Napoleon deal with the Mutiny of the Hens and what are the results?
7. Besides the destruction of the windmill, for what other things is Snowball blamed?
8. What “news” does Squealer reveal about Snowball and the Battle of the Cowshed, and what is Boxer’s
9. What happens at the assembly of the animals in the yard?
10. What is Clover’s reaction to the violent events?
1. They plan to make the walls three feet thick, which means more stone is needed and more work is required
of them.
2. The winter is bitter cold and food is in short supply. The animals’ corn ration is drastically cut and the frost
spoils the greater part of the potato crop.
3. Napoleon uses Whymper to spread the word that the animals are prospering. He does this by filling the
almost empty bins with sand and covering it with grain and meal. He has the sheep remark in Whymper’s
hearing that food rations have been increased, and Whymper is fooled.
Chapter VII Questions and Answers 33
4. Napoleon accepts a contract, through Whymper, to sell 400 eggs a week. The money from the sale would
buy enough grain to get the farm through the winter. The hens, ready to hatch clutches of chicks, say taking
the eggs would be murder.
5. The hens lay their eggs in the rafters of the barn, choosing to smash them to the ground rather than turn
them over to Napoleon for sale.
6. Napoleon orders the hens’ rations stopped and death to any animal who gives them even one grain of corn.
The hens hold out for five days and then give in. Nine hens die in the mutiny and are buried in the orchard.
Napoleon delivers four 400 a week for sale as contracted.
7. He is blamed for stealing corn, upsetting milk pails, breaking eggs, trampling seedbeds, gnawing the bark
on fruit trees, breaking windows, blocking up drains, stealing the key to the storage shed, milking the cows
while they sleep, and inciting the rats to cause trouble.
8. Squealer says that documents have been recently found that prove Snowball was Jones’s secret agent, and
that he planned to turn over the farm to the humans during a critical part of the battle. Boxer says he doesn’t
believe it, although he changes his mind when Squealer indicates that Napoleon has stated categorically that
Snowball was a traitor from the beginning.
9. At a signal from Napoleon, the dogs drag the four porkers who protested Napoleon’s plan to stop the
Sunday meetings into the yard. They are followed by the three hens who were the leaders of the rebellion over
the eggs, a goose, and three sheep. After confessing to crimes against Animal Farm, their throats are torn out
by the dogs. Three dogs attack Boxer, but he is too strong and fights them off. The confessions continue until
there is a pile of corpses lying at Napoleon’s feet.
10. Clover knows that the scenes of terror and slaughter are not what they looked forward to when Old Major
stirred them to overthrow man. They had envisioned an animal society with no whips, no hunger, no
inequality, where all worked according to their abilities, and the strong protected the weak. But she doesn’t
have the words to express her thoughts, and she has no desire to rebel because she believes their lives are still
better under Napoleon’s rule.
Chapter VIII Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. How does the Sixth Commandment change?
2. What are the titles invented for Napoleon?
3. What happens when Minimus composes the poem “Comrade Napoleon”?
4. What other confessions are made by animals in this chapter and what are the results?
5. What is the latest information Squealer reveals to the animals about Snowball?
6. What does Napoleon do with the woodpile?
7. How does Frederick cheat Napoleon?
8. What happens in the Battle of the Windmill?
Chapter VIII Questions and Answers 34
9. Why does Squealer tell the animals that Napoleon is dying?
10. How is the Fifth Commandment changed?
1. The commandment becomes “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.”
2. The pigs call him “Father of All Animals,” “Terror of Mankind,” “Protector of the Sheep-fold,” and
“Ducklings’ Friend.”
3. Napoleon approves of the poem and orders that it be inscribed on the barn wall opposite the
4. Three hens confess to entering into a plot with Snowball to murder Napoleon. A gander confesses to
working with Snowball to put weeds in the corn seed. The hens are executed, and the gander promptly
commits suicide. Later, a pig is assigned the job of tasting all of Napoleon’s food to see if it is poisoned.
5. Squealer tells the animals that Snowball never received a medal after the Battle of the Cowshed. He says
that Snowball is working with the humans to plan another attack on the farm.
6. He contracts with Frederick to sell the wood in exchange for bank notes. The money is to be used to buy
necessary provisions.
7. Frederick pays for the woodpile with counterfeit money. In effect, he steals the wood.
8. Frederick and his men invade the farm. Many animals are killed or wounded, and before being driven off,
Frederick blows up the rebuilt windmill.
9. Napoleon is sick from drinking too much alcohol. The rumor is that Snowball has poisoned his food.
10. The commandment becomes, “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”
Chapter IX Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. What is Boxer’s ambition after the Battle of the Windmill?
2. How do the animals’ lives become harder after the windmill is blown up?
3. How does Squealer convince them that their lives are
4. What is a “Spontaneous Demonstration”?
5. What new information does Squealer reveal about Snowball?
6. What purpose does Moses the raven’s return to the farm serve?
7. How do the pigs react to Moses’ return?
Chapter IX Questions and Answers 35
8. What happens to Boxer?
9. How does Squealer explain the events surrounding Boxer’s removal from the farm and his death?
10. Where do the pigs get the money to buy whiskey for their banquet?
1. Boxer hopes to see the work on rebuilding the windmill get well underway before he reaches the age of
2. The winter is severe. Their rations are reduced, and they must rebuild the windmill as well as do their work
on the farm. The contract for the sale of eggs is increased to 600. Lanterns are removed from their stalls to
save oil.
3. Squealer produces lists and figures indicating they have more oats, hay, and turnips than they did under
Jones. He tells them that they work shorter hours, their drinking water is better, and more of their young
survive infancy. They have more straw in their stalls, and they have fewer fleas.
4. At an appointed time the animals, led by the pigs, would leave work and march around the farm in military
formation. Clover and Boxer carry a green banner with the slogan, “Long live Comrade Napoleon!” Later
there are songs and poems in Napoleon’s honor. It helps the animals forget their empty bellies.
5. Squealer has documents to prove that Snowball was not only in league with Jones, but that he led the attack
against the animals at the Battle of the Cowshed. He says that the wounds on Snowball’s back were inflicted
by Napoleon’s teeth.
6. Moses tells the animals about Sugarcandy Mountain, a place where they will go when they die. It is a place
where they will have rest and food. His stories help keep the animals happy.
7. They all declare his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain are lies, but they permit him to remain on the farm
and not work. They also give him an allowance of beer every day.
8. When Boxer’s lung collapses and he is no longer able to work, Napoleon sends him to the horse
slaughterer in Willingdon.
9. Squealer tells the animals that Boxer died in the hospital after receiving the best treatment. He says the
wagon, which took Boxer, was once owned by the knacker and bought by the veterinary surgeon, who didn’t
have a chance to paint over the old name.
10. They got the money from the sale of Boxer to the knacker.
Chapter X Questions and Answers
Study Questions
1. What happens to Mr. Jones?
2. How does the farm prosper in the years after Boxer’s death?
3. What kind of work do the pigs do on the now-prosperous farm?
Chapter X Questions and Answers 36
4. What is the new slogan learned by the sheep and why?
5. What happens to the Seven Commandments?
6. What modern conveniences do the pigs enjoy after they learn to walk on two legs?
7. What observations has Mr. Pilkington made on his tour of Animal Farm?
8. What changes does Napoleon announce at his meeting with the humans?
9. What causes the fight between Napoleon and Pilkington?
10. What happens as the animals look into the farmhouse window, and what does it mean?
1. Mr. Jones died in an inebriate’s home in another part of the country.
2. It is enlarged by two fields bought from Mr. Pilkington, and threshing machine, hay elevator, and new
buildings are added. The windmill is successfully completed, and it is used for milling corn, which brings in a
handsome profit.
3. The pigs are involved in the endless work of supervision and organization, work the other animals are too
ignorant to understand. They fill up large sheets of papers with writing, and as soon as they are so covered,
they burn them in the furnace.
4. When the pigs learn to walk on two legs, the sheep learn a new slogan, “Four legs good, two legs better!”
5. They are replaced by a single commandment, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than
6. The pigs buy themselves a wireless radio and make plans to install a telephone. They take out subscriptions
to newspapers and begin wearing clothes found in Mr. Jones’s closet.
7. Mr. Pilkington has seen that the animals under the supervision of the pigs work harder and eat less than any
animals in the county. He plans to use some of the practices he has seen on his own farm.
8. He says the animals will no longer refer to each other as “comrade.” Old Major’s skull, nailed to a post in
the garden, has been buried, and the hoof and horn on the flag have been removed. He also says that the name
of the farm has been changed back to “The Manor Farm.”
9. They both play an ace of spades at the same time. Someone is cheating.
10. The animals can’t tell the difference between the pigs and the humans. Napoleon has become just like Mr.
Jones whom he has replaced.
Animal Farm: Essential Passages
Animal Farm: Essential Passages 37
Essential Passages by Character: Napoleon
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 5
Napoleon, with the dogs following him, now mounted on to the raised portion of the floor
where Major had previously stood to deliver his speech. He announced that from now on the
Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and
wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a
special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in private and
afterwards communicate their decisions to the others. The animals would still assemble on
Sunday mornings to salute the flag, sing “Beast of England,” and receive their orders for the
week; but there would be no more debates.
Napoleon, assisted by Snowball, had led the animals in revolution against humans, gaining control of the
farm. Based on the equality of all animals, the leadership has, however, been retained by the pigs, most
notably Napoleon. Though Snowball has fought valiantly and supplied much of the plans for the success of
Animal Farm, Napoleon has seized complete control, driving Snowball from the farm, and has begun the
process of villainizing him. While the animals have held Snowball to be a hero, Napoleon (through Squealer)
begins to paint him as a traitor. Flanked by his specially trained guard dogs, Napoleon presents the new order
of things to the other animals. There will be no more meetings in which all animals have a voice. Decisions
will be formed by a committee, ruled over by Napoleon. These meetings will be held in secret, with the
decisions presented to the animals by Squealer, the voice of the revolution. Only the minimal, superficial rites
of the rebellion are kept in place for the moment.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 8
All orders were now issued through Squealer or one of the other pigs. Napoleon himself was
not seen in public as often as once in a fortnight. When he did appear, he was attended not
only by his retinue of dogs but by a black cockerel who marched in front of him and acted as
a kind of trumpeter, letting out a loud “cock-a-doodle-doo” before Napoleon spoke. Even in
the farmhouse, it was said, Napoleon inhabited separate apartments from the others. He took
his meals alone, with two dogs to wait upon him, and always ate from the Crown Derby
dinner service which had been in the glass cupboard in the drawing-room. It was also
announced that the gun would be fired every year on Napoleon’s birthday, as well as on the
other two anniversaries.
Things have changed on Animal Farm, with many of the Seven Commandments having been “revised.”
Despite the injunction that “No animal shall kill any other animal,” there has been a purge in which several
animals were killed, having been suspected of conspiring with the exiled Snowball. The animals continue to
work hard, with Squealer reading off the production reports weekly, indicating that they are succeeding more
than when the farm was controlled by humans. As no one can remember, or was aware, of what the
production totals were with the farm belonged to Mr. Jones, they accede to these numbers. In the meantime,
Napoleon becomes to retreat from the common populace. When he does appear, he is flanked by his dog body
guard, along with the rooster who announces his speeches so that all animals can attend. Living apart, he has
taken over the luxurious living of the humans, eating from fine china. He has also elevated himself to public
adulation by having his birthday celebrated with great fanfare.
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 9
Essential Passages by Character: Napoleon 38
There were many more mouths to feed now. In the autumn the four sows had all littered about
simultaneously, producing thirty-one young pigs between them. The young pigs were piebald,
and as Napoleon was the only boar in the farm, it was possible to guess at their parentage. It
was announced that later, when bricks and timber had been purchased, a schoolroom would
be built in the farmhouse garden. For the time being, the young pigs were given their
instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen. They took their exercise in the
garden, and were discouraged from playing with the other young animals. About this time,
too it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other
animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege
of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays.
The farm is deemed a success, though the winter is hard, the animals go hungry (except for the pigs), and food
becomes rationed. As the year progresses, however, only the weather improves. The population increases, and
mostly it is in pigs, the offspring of Napoleon. As pigs were treated more favorably than the other animals on
the farm, Napoleon’s children are treated even better. He personally supervises their education, and makes
the building of a school (for his children only) a priority. The piglets are kept separate from the other animals,
enforcing the new elitism that continues to grow. Animals are now subservient to the pigs, and must give way
to them as to a higher being. It is only pigs who are allowed to wear ribbon decorations, something that Mollie
the cart horse had wished for strongly but had been denied as being contrary to the revolution. Napoleon has
at last succeeded in making himself that against which they had rebelled.
Analysis of Essential Passages
Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin, the Communist dictator of the Soviet Union in the early part of the USSR
after the Russian Revolution. With Trotsky, he set up the communist government as a replacement for the
corrupt tsarist monarchy. With control supposedly given to the people (namely the workers), communism was
hailed as to be the new Enlightenment, with Stalin as its leader. However, from the very first, Stalin proceeded
to merely replace the tsar’s tyranny with his own. In the same way Napoleon elevates himself throughout the
novel so that he eventually becomes the same as Mr. Jones, the farmer they had driven out.
Napoleon, along with Snowball, developed the principles of Animalism, in which all that was human was
evil, and all that was animal was good. The strict regulations against animals taking on any of the
characteristics and practices of the humans were designed to increase productivity, security, and happiness for
all animals. Initially, this success was achieved, but eventually it came at a price.
As Stalin drove out Trotsky, Napoleon drives out Snowball and begins to revise history as to Snowball’s
contributions. As Orwell has pointed out elsewhere in his other novel 1984, he who controls the past controls
the future. With such revisionism Napoleon convinces the animals that he alone is the creator of Animal
Farm. In this role, he begins to acquire those luxuries that he had previously condemned as inconsistent with
the Rebellion, such as stealing the milk and apples that had been available to all. Bit by bit, he eliminates
those aspects of the Rebellion that had given the animals a voice in their welfare (such as the Sunday
meetings), which were the foundation of the Rebellions to begin with.
With the training of the puppies to be his guard (similar to the Stalinist Secret Police), Napoleon has set
himself apart from the day-to-day dealings of Animal Farm. While he requires its bounty, he contributes
nothing to its production. Though the initial premise was that all animals are equal, Napoleon has placed
himself on a pedestal, having his speeches preceded by the “announcements” by the cockerel. His
self-importance stretches even to the use of the fine china that Mr. Jones had left behind. As Stalin began to
live in the manner of the tsar, so Napoleon begins to live in the manner of the formerly hated humans.
Essential Passages by Character: Napoleon 39
As Napoleon enlarges his family, so he enlarges the privileged class. Though the Rebellion had intended to
strike against the elite and classicism of the reign of the humans, he simply denies it to the other animals and
reserves it for himself and his children. As the Soviet party members were the new aristocracy that replaced
the old in Russia, so Napoleon’s family replaces the privilege that the humans enjoyed at the expense of the
animals. Thus Napoleon betrays the very revolution he started by becoming that against which he rebelled. He
has become what he hated. Eventually, going beyond the mere revision of the Seven Commandments to
justify his desires, he abandons them totally. He moves into Jones’ house, uses the human luxuries, begins to
walk on two legs, wear clothes, and in effect becomes human. He begins to make deals with the humans,
especially Pilkington (who represents Great Britain). Though they have agreed to live in harmony and even
cooperate, there is still mutual distrust, as is evidenced by both trying to cheat at cards. In the end, the animals
cannot tell the difference between man and pig. Both have been sublimated into each other.
Essential Passages by Theme: Propaganda
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable,
laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in
our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our
strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with
hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a
year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the
plain truth.”
Old Major, the oldest boar on Manor Farm, has called all the animals together after Mr. Jones once again
neglected their welfare due to his love of drinking. As the disparate group of animals gathers in the barn, Old
Major stands upon the platform to address them. Speaking of his dream of liberty for animals, Old Major
endeavors to inspire his fellow creatures to fight for their freedom from humans. The land is good, they are all
excellent workers, and all conditions are ripe for fruitfulness and happiness. But because of the tyranny and
neglect of humans, animals must suffer. Old Major points out the blunt facts of their existence. Though they
receive sustenance, it is only enough for survival. They are worked to the point of death, and when they are no
longer able to give anything more, they are put to death.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 9
Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he [Squealer] proved to them in detail that
they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones’s day, that they
worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer,
that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in
their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell,
Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life
nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were
usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days.
They were glad to believe it so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they
were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.
After the Battle of the Windmill, when the animals “successfully” prevented the humans from conquering the
farm (and despite the destruction of the windmill), conditions continue to slide downhill for the animals.
Essential Passages by Theme: Propaganda 40
Though animals such as Boxer have labored hard and long for Animal Farm, their lives are continually
plagued by hunger and, as winter sets in, cold. Yet they labor on. Squealer, as the voice of Napoleon, reads off
the statistics that “prove” that their lives have indeed improved. Despite evidence to the contrary, the animals
believe the statistics, for statistics do not lie. The tyranny of the humans under Mr. Jones has faded, and they
know only the present. They are told that conditions had been worse, but they do not stop to question exactly
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 10
There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the
long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned
upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in
spite of everything—in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through
long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened—they might
have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep
burst out into a tremendous bleating of—
“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! For legs good, two legs
After many years, the farm has never looked better. Crops are good, and the land is doing well. The living
condition of the animals, however, still is hard. Yet they are reassured over and over that production is much
improved under animals than under humans. The pigs are the only ones, it is evident, whose lives have any
form of comfort and sufficiency. They have long lived in the farmhouse and slept in beds (the rule against
doing so having been revised to mean that sleeping in beds with sheets is the restriction, not the beds
themselves). The elitism of the pigs is evident to all and widely accepted as necessary if they are to lead
effectively. But one summer day, the other animals are shocked when Squealer, followed soon by the other
pigs, appears in the farmyard walking on two legs. The Animalist motto, “Four legs good, two legs bad,”
obviously is not going to work anymore. Without Squealer revising the rule for them, the sheep (and soon the
other animals) revise the rule for themselves to match their new reality.
Analysis of Essential Passages
The use of propaganda in Animal Farm shows the slow progression by which the innocent citizens of a
community are gradually duped into submission. From the revolutionary ideas of Old Major to the
self-delusion of the sheep, Orwell demonstrates the path that totalitarian governments take in convincing their
people that “Freedom is Slavery,” as Orwell states it in 1984. The willing collusion of the animals into
compliance leads them into the slavery that they rebelled against earlier.
Old Major, the acknowledged wise leader of the barnyard, inspires the animals with dreams of freedom.
Rather than using heavily charged, emotion-ladened words, he states the simple facts of their lives. They are
hungry. They are worked hard. They are subjected to cruelty. No one is free. All are subject to the whims of
humans. Old Major has appealed to the facts more than the emotions. He has placed his philosophy on the
foundation of reason and observable proof. The situation is clearly black and white, slavery versus freedom,
cruelty versus kindness. By the simplicity of his rhetoric, Old Major has convinced his fellow creatures of the
sorry nature of existence. He points the blame where it justly belongs, and he prophesies a day when animals
shall live in peace and happiness.
The use of heavy-handed propaganda will be left to Napoleon, Old Major's successor and the implementer of
his philosophy. Napoleon has wisely codified the philosophy in the form of the Seven Commandments,
simple statements of observable regulations. Easy to understand, they can be learned by the slowest mind.
Essential Passages by Theme: Propaganda 41
And yet Napoleon, as time goes on, begins to bend the philosophy to his own benefit, resulting in the
concentration of power in his own hands (or hooves, rather). To do so, the rules must be “revised,” thus
beginning the progress of propaganda to convince the animals of the fact that “All animals are equal, but
some animals are more equal than others.” The brainwashing begins as each successive commandment must
be rewritten to allow for “exceptions” to justify the past actions of Napoleon. Napoleon wants to sleep in a
bed, so the rule must be modified to mean “beds with sheets.” Napoleon gets drunk, and he thus must revise
the rule to mean no drinking alcohol “to excess.”
Through ignorance and an inability to reason, the animals fall for the propagandistic messages, thus giving up
more and more of their freedom. The power of Napoleon’s words belies the fact of the animals' meager
existence. They are cold and hungry, but they are "free." They do not even realize that they are still slaves: the
master now is merely different.
The final triumph of the propagandistic machine is when it no longer needs to exist, when citizens themselves
“revise” the regulations and their reality to coincide with the teaching of the rulers. As the sheep now
proclaim that “two legs are better,” so the victory of tyranny is complete.
The ultimate tool of tyranny, as Orwell shows in both Animal Farm and 1984, is not military might but
propaganda. Armies can kill, but they cannot convince. Combatants may threaten lives, but they cannot thrive
in the hearts of the opposition. The real battlefield is not on the scorched earth of the enemy but in the minds
of the people.
Animal Farm: Themes
Language and Meaning
In Animal Farm, his allegory of the Soviet Revolution, Orwell examines the use of language and the
subversion of the meaning of words by showing how the powerful manipulate words for their own benefit. As
a journalist, Orwell knew the power of words to serve whichever side the writer backed. In the novel,
Snowball is a quick talker who can always explain his way out of any situation. When the birds object to the
maxim, "Four legs good, two legs bad," that the pig teaches the sheep, he explains that the bird's wing "is an
organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg." The birds do not really
understand this explanation, but they accept it. Orwell particularly comments on the abuse of language with
his character Squealer, "a brilliant talker," who acts as an unofficial head of propaganda for the pigs. Like
Joseph Goebbels, who bore the title of Nazi party minister of propaganda and national enlightenment during
World War II, Squealer "could turn black into white." This is also reminiscent of the official newspaper of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Pravda, which was often used to rewrite the past. (Ironically, its title
means "Truth.") When a bad winter forces a reduction in food rations to the animals, Squealer calls it a
"readjustment." In a totalitarian state, language can be used to change even the past. Squealer explains to the
animals "that Snowball had never—as many of them had believed hitherto—received the order of 'Animal Hero,
First Class'."
God and Religion
In the novel religion is represented by Moses, the tame raven. The clergy is presented as a privileged class
tolerated by those in power because of their ability to placate the masses with promises of rewards in the
after-life for suffering endured on Earth. Moses is afforded special treatment not available to the other
animals. For example, he is the only animal not present at the meeting called by Old Major as the book opens.
Later, the reader is told the other animals hate the raven because he does not do any work, in fact, the pigs
give him a daily ration of beer. Like Lenin, who proclaimed religion was the opiate of the people, Orwell sees
organized religion as another corruptible institution which serves to keep the masses tranquil. Moses preaches
"the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they
Animal Farm: Themes 42
died;" in that distant land "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and
lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges."
Human Rights
In Animal Farm, Orwell comments on those who corrupt the idea of human rights by showing how the
animals deal with the issue of equality. In chapter one, Old Major interrupts his speech appealing to the
animals for a Rebellion against the humans by asking for a vote on whether "wild creatures, such as rats and
rabbits" should be included in the statement "All animals are comrades." Although at this point, the animals
vote to accept the rats, later distinctions between different types of animals become so commonplace that the
seventh commandment of Animalism is officially changed to read, "All animals are equal, but some are more
equal than others." A number of societies have historically "voted" that portions of their populations were not
equal because of their faith, their skin color, or their ancestry.
Class Conflict
Orwell saw first-hand how being a member of a lower class singled him out for abuse at St. Cyprian's, a
school which attracted most of its students from the British upper class. He had also seen how the British
ruling class in Burma had abused the native population. In Animal Farm the animals begin by proclaiming the
equality of all animals. The classless society soon becomes divided as preferential treatment is given to the
pigs. First, they alone are allowed to consume the milk and the apples which Squealer claims they do not
really want to take, but must to preserve their strength. Later, the other animals are told that they must "stand
aside" if they meet a pig coming down a path, and that all pigs had "the privilege of wearing green ribbons on
their tails on Sundays." By this time, not even an explanation from Squealer is necessary; the hierarchy in the
society is well-established. A pointed remark by Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood, who represents Great Britain in
Orwell's satire, puts the author's distaste for classes in perspective. When Mr. Pilkington and other farmers
meet with Napoleon in the novel's last scene, Pilkington chokes with amusement as he says to the pigs, "If
you have your lower animals to contend with, we have our lower classes." Orwell knew that with power came
the abuse of power and only a vigilant citizenry could prevent such abuses.
Orwell uses Animal Farm to express his deeply held political convictions. He stated in his 1946 essay, "Why I
Write," "every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly,
against totalitarianism and for Democratic socialism " Although the novel is written in direct response to his
bitter disappointment that the Russian Revolution, instead of establishing a people's republic, established an
essentially totalitarian state, its continued relevance is possible because his criticism stands against any and all
totalitarian regimes. The only protection the average citizen has against a similar tyranny developing in his
own country is his refusal to blindly follow the crowd (like the sheep), the repudiation of all spurious
explanations by propaganda sources (like Squealer), and diligent attention to all government activity, instead
of faithfully following those in power (like Boxer).
Truth and Falsehood
In the novel, the animals are often forced to examine the meaning of truth in their society. Again and again,
truth becomes simply what Snowball, and later Squealer, tells them. Any questions about past events that do
not seem to match the pigs' version of those events are either discounted or explained away. For example,
when some of the animals are executed after they confess to various crimes against Napoleon, some of those
left alive remember that the Sixth Commandment of Animalism was "No animal shall kill any other animal."
When Clover asks Muriel to read the commandment, however, it is discovered that it reads, "No animal shall
kill any other animal without cause." "Somehow or other," the narrator comments, "the last two words had
slipped out of the animals' memory." Similarly, when the pigs get into a case of whiskey and get drunk,
Muriel looks up at the barn wall where the Seven Commandments had been written and sees that the Fifth
Commandment reads, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess." She thinks the animals must have forgotten
the last two words of this commandment as well. She comes to believe that the original event of the writing of
Animal Farm: Themes 43
the commandments on the wall did not happen the way she and other animals remember it. With this theme
Orwell challenges the Soviet state's—and any totalitarian state's—method of controlling public opinion by
manipulating the truth and, in particular, rewriting history.
Animal Farm: Style
Point of View
The third-person point of view traditionally used for fables and fairy tales is the one Orwell chooses for
Animal Farm, his tale of an animal rebellion against humans in which the pigs become the powerful elite. The
storyteller in this case, as is also typical of the fable, tells the reader only what is needed to follow the story
and the bare minimum about each character, without overt commentary. Orwell focuses on the bewilderment
of the simple beasts—the horses, birds, and sheep—in the face of their manipulation by the pigs, eliciting
sympathy from the reader.
Animal Farm takes place at an unspecified time on a British farm near Willingdon, a town that is mentioned
only in passing. The farm is first called Manor Farm, later renamed Animal Farm and, finally, Manor Farm
once more. Manor— which can mean the land overseen by a lord, the house of a lord, or a mansion—associates
the farm with the upper, or ruling, class. Orwell focuses entirely on activities taking place at the farm, except
for a brief scene in Willingdon when Jones asks his neighbors to help him. By keeping a narrow focus, Orwell
makes the location in England unimportant.
The narrator in the novel functions as a storyteller, telling a fable Orwell gives the fable ironic overtones by
using a naive narrator, one who refuses to comment on events in the novel that the reader understands to be
false. After Muriel tells Clover that the fourth commandment of Animalism reads, "No animal shall sleep in a
bed with sheets," the narrator declares: "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." Both the reader and
the narrator know the truth of the matter—that the words of the commandment have been changed—but the
narrator does not admit it. The tension between what the narrator knows but does not say and what the reader
knows is dramatic irony.
Dramatic Irony
With dramatic irony an audience, or reader, understands the difference between the truth of a situation and
what the characters know about it, while the characters remain ignorant of the discrepancy. For instance,
Squealer explains that the van in which Boxer was taken to the hospital formerly belonged to a horse
slaughterer. He further explains that the veterinarian who now uses it did not have the time to paint over the
horse slaughterer's sign on its side, so the animals should not worry. The narrator says: "The animals were
enormously relieved to hear this." The reader, who assumed the truth when the van originally appeared to
carry the horse away, feels doubly outraged by Squealer's explanation
Fairy Tales
The fairy story, or fairy tale, is a type of folk literature found all over the world. It involves a highly
imaginative narrative told in a simple manner easily understood and enjoyed even by children. While they do
not have a moral, fairy tales instruct by placing their characters in situations that they have to overcome;
children who hear the tales can imagine what they would do in a similar situation. Fairy tales, also, often
involve animals that can talk. Orwell gave his work the subtitle "A Fairy Story." The reader can surmise that
the story told in Animal Farm is universal, with implications for every culture or country, and that it will be
easily understood. Using "fairy story" to describe his novel is another bit of irony, because the political story
behind the tale is far from the light entertainment the term implies.
Animal Farm: Style 44
A work that uses humor to criticize a weakness or defect is called a satire. The satirist makes whatever he is
criticizing look ridiculous by a variety of methods, often through irony or other types of biting humor.
© The satirist hopes to change the behavior he is satirizing. Orwell ridicules the so-called
achievements of the Russian revolution in a number of ways: by comparing its proponents to animals, by
developing irony through the use of the naive narrator, and by allowing each animal or group of animals to
stand for one human trait or tendency that he criticizes.
A fable is a short, imaginative narrative, usually with animal characters, that illustrates a moral. The
characters often embody a specific human trait, like jealousy, to make fun of humans who act similarly.
Orwell uses details to make his animal characters seem like real animals: the cat vanishes for hours at a lime;
Molly the mare likes to have her nose stroked. The animals also represent human traits or characteristics: the
pigs are selfish power-grabbers, the sheep are dim-witted "yes-men," and the horses are stout-hearted workers.
Animal Farm, like the traditional fable, is told in a simple, straightforward style.
In an allegory, characters and events stand for something else. In this case, the characters in the novel stand
for significant figures in twentieth-century Russian history. Orwell makes the characters easily identifiable for
those who know the historic parallels, because he gives each one a trait, or has them perform certain tasks,
that are like that of a historical figure. Old Major is identified with Karl Marx because, just as Old Major
develops the teachings that fuel the Animal Rebellion, Marx formulated the ideas that spawned the Russian
revolution. Napoleon and Snowball, both pigs, stand for Russian leaders Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.
Stalin and Trotsky had a falling out much like Napoleon and Snowball do. Events from history— the
revolution itself and the Moscow purge trials of the 1930s—also appear in allegorical form in the novel.
Animal Farm: Historical Context
Ever since Orwell wrote Animal Farm readers have enjoyed it as a simple animal story. While it is possible to
read the book without being aware of the historical background in which Orwell wrote it, knowing the world's
situation during the 1940s adds interest to the novel. The reader understands why the political implications of
the book were so important to Orwell, and is encouraged to read the book again, looking for its less obvious
political and societal references. As the date of the original publication of the work becomes more remote, the
historical events that preceded it lose their immediacy, but Orwell's story remains viable. In fact, Orwell
emphasized the universality and timelessness of his message by not setting the story in any particular era, and,
while placing the farm in England, not making that fact important.
World War II
The target of Orwell's satire in Animal Farm was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R , or the
Soviet Union), which at the time the work was written was a military ally of Great Britain during World War
II. The book's publication was delayed until after fighting had ended on the war's European front in May
1945. When England declared war on Germany in September 1939, it would not have seemed likely that by
the war's end England and the U.S.S.R. would be allies. Just a week before, the world community had been
stunned by news of a Soviet-German nonaggression pact. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalm secretly worked out
the agreement, while the Soviet leader publicly pursued an alliance with Great Britain and France against
Germany. The pact called for the development of German and Russian spheres of interest in Eastern Europe
and the division of Poland between the two countries. The world, which had for several years watched
Germany's expansionist moves, was suddenly confronted with the Soviet Union sending troops into eastern
Poland and several other bordering countries. In his book, George Orwell: The Ethical Imagination, Sant
Singh Bal quotes Orwell on the situation: "Suddenly the scum of the earth and the bloodstained butcher of the
Animal Farm: Historical Context 45
workers (for so they had described one another) were marching arm in arm, their friendship 'cemented in
blood,' as Stalin cheerily expressed it." Orwell portrays the Hitler-Stalin pact in his novel as the agreement
between Mr. Frederick and Napoleon.
When the war began, Orwell and his wife were living in a 300-year-old cottage in Wallington, a rural
community in southeastern England, where they raised animals and owned a store. When it appeared that
Germany was preparing to invade England, the couple moved to London. Disappointed that he was unable to
fight in the war against fascism, Orwell wanted to at least be in London where he might still be called on to
defend his country. The German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, tried in vain to bring about England's surrender with
nightly bombing raids over London that continued sporadically for nearly two years. The bombings and
shortages of practically every staple made life in London particularly difficult. Orwell felt compelled to stay
there. According to Peter Lewis in George Orwell: The Road to 1984, Orwell told a friend, "But you can't
leave when people are being bombed to hell." The writer, like most of his countrymen, suffered the loss of a
family member in the war; his wife's brother, Laurence, an Army surgeon, died during the battle of Dunkirk in
The war changed when the Soviet Union was unexpectedly invaded by the Germans in June 1941. Still stung
by Stalin's betrayal just two years earlier, the Allies (France, England, and—after Pearl Harbor—the United
States) were nevertheless forced to join him in order to defeat Hitler. Orwell cringed at photographs of the
leaders of England and the United States—Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin
Roosevelt, respectively—and Stalin conferring with each other at the Tehran Conference held November 28 to
December 1, 1943. Orwell sat down to write his book at exactly the same moment. In the preface to the
Ukrainian edition of the novel, Orwell wrote: "I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be
easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages." Orwell knew
he would have trouble publishing it because Stalin had become quite popular in England as the one who saved
England from an invasion. Orwell couldn't forgive the Soviet leader's complicity with Hitler, or his bloody
reshaping of the Soviet Communist Party during the 1930s which resulted in the death or deportation of
hundreds of thousands of Russians. Orwell included these so-called purge trials in Animal Farm when the
animals confess to aiding Snowball in various ways after the pig is exiled from the farm.
Although finished in February 1944, Animal Farm wasn't published until 1945, a pivotal year in world
history. The war ended, but the year also included such disparate events as the first wartime use of a nuclear
bomb and the approval of the charter establishing the United Nations, an international organization promoting
peaceful economic cooperation. The cost of the war was staggering: estimates set the monetary cost at one
trillion dollars, while an estimated 60 million people lost their lives. Nearly sixty countries were involved in
the conflict, with daily life changed dramatically for those in the war zone. The war's end meant the end of
rationing, but it also meant an end to the economic machinery that had produced war materials, the return of
the soldiers who glutted the suddenly slackened employment market, and a dramatic increase in births in the
United States, called the "Baby Boom," that would affect American society until the end of the century. The
war had allowed only the United States and the Soviet Union to survive as world powers. So the end of the
war brought the beginning of a Cold War, an ideological conflict pitting the Soviet Union and its allies against
the United States and its allies, that persisted with varying degrees of intensity until the collapse of the Soviet
Union in 1991.
Animal Farm: Critical Overview
Although Orwell endured many rejection notices from publishers on both sides of the Atlantic before Animal
Farm finally appeared in print, ever since it was published in 1945 it has enjoyed widespread critical
approval. From the start, reviewers were apt to make a favorable comparison between Orwell's book and the
work of the great satirists of the past. In an important early review, influential New Yorker critic Edmund
Animal Farm: Critical Overview 46
Wilson commented that while Orwell's style was reminiscent of that used in the fables of French author Jean
de La Fontaine and British author John Gay, he conceded that "Animal Farm even seems very creditable if we
compare it with Voltaire and [Jonathan] Swift." Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Adam de Hegedus were
among the first critics to attach more significance to the novel beyond that of a political satire. Schlesinger
wrote in the New York Times Book Review that Orwell's ability to make the reader empathize with the plight
of the animals "would compel the attention of persons who never heard of the Russian Revolution." In
Commonweal, de Hegedus stated: "[The novel] has implications—and they are many—which are older and
more universal than the past and present of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." He, like many critics
have since, pointed out the similarity between conclusions drawn from Orwell's text and the famous aphorism
of British historian Lord Acton who wrote, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Early negative criticism of the novel included Nation contributor Isaac Rosenfeld's belief that since the events
satirized by Orwell had already passed, it was "a backward work," and New Republic critic George Soule's
complaint that the book was "on the whole dull."
On Orwell's death in 1950, Arthur Koestler, a friend who shared Orwell's own disillusion with Soviet
Communism, again raised comparisons with Swift. "No parable was written since Gulliver's Travels," he
wrote in the Observer, "equal in profundity and mordant satire to Animal Farm." British journalist Christopher
Hollis examined Orwell's ability to craft a fable. "The author of such a fable must have the Swift-like capacity
of ascribing with solemn face to the animals idiotic but easily recognized human qualities," Hollis wrote in his
A Study of George Orwell: The Man and His Works, "decking them out in aptly changed phraseology to suit
the animal life—ascribe to them the quality and then pass quickly on before the reader has begun to find the
point overlaboured. This Orwell has to perfection." Essayist and novelist C. S. Lewis compared Animal Farm
to 1984, Orwell's last novel, and found Animal Farm the more powerful of the two. In an essay in Tide and
Time he wrote, "Wit and humour (absent from the longer work 1984) are employed with devastating effect.
The great sentence 'All animals are equal but some are more equal than others' bites deeper than the whole of
In the 1960s and 1970s, critical interest in Orwell continued with scholars such as Jenni Calder, George
Woodcock, Stephen I. Greenblatt, and Jeffrey Meyers publishing books that discussed Orwell and his works.
Like Lewis, Greenblatt and Woodcock considered both Animal Farm and 1984 in their criticism, concluding
that 1984 was a thematic continuation of Animal Farm. In his Three Modern Satirists: Waugh, Orwell, &
Huxley, Greenblatt wrote: "The horror of both Animal Farm and the later 1984 is precisely the cold, orderly,
predictable process by which decency, happiness, and hope are systematically and ruthlessly crushed." In his
The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell, Woodcock observed: "By transferring the problems of caste
division outside a human setting, Orwell was able in Animal Farm to avoid the psychological complications
inevitable in a novel. In the process he left out one element which occurs in all his other works of fiction, the
individual rebel caught in the machinery of the caste system. Not until he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four did he
elaborate the rebel's role in an Animal Farm carried to its monstrously logical conclusion." Calder and Meyers
both noted that since Orwell was not adept at creating believable human characters, his use of animals in the
book made it more effective than any of his other novels. Calder remarked in her Chronicles of Conscience: A
Study of George Orwell and Arthur Koestler, 'The animals are never mere representations. They have a
breathing individuality that is lacking in most of Orwell's human characters."
The 1980s brought a spate of books, articles, and reviews on Orwell's works as the literary community marked
the year 1984, the date that Orwell used as the title to his last novel. The literary world also celebrated Animal
Farm's fiftieth anniversary in 1995, which saw the publication of a new illustrated edition. While most
critiques of the novel remained positive, some reviewers, such as Stephen Sedley, offered negative opinions.
In an essay contained in Christopher Norris's Inside the Myth: Orwell, Views from the Left, Sedley argued that
the book's popularity had as much to do with an atmosphere of anti-communism in England following World
War II as it did with Orwell's vision, stating, "Between its covers Animal Farm offers little that is creative,
little that is original." In the New York Times Book Review, however, Arthur C. Danto maintained that "the
Animal Farm: Critical Overview 47
sustained acceptance of the book is testimony to a human meaning deeper than anti-Soviet polemics." In
Commonweal Katharine Byrne summarized many critics opinions when she wrote: "Should Animal Farm be
read during the next fifty years? Of course, but for the right reasons: setting up as it does, with crystal clarity,
the price paid when we do not safeguard our freedoms."
Animal Farm: Character Analysis
A "large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar," Napoleon becomes the leader of the animals after Snowball is
chased off the farm. He, Snowball, and Squealer are the ones who organize the thoughts proclaimed by Old
Major into the principles of Animalism. Soon after the revolt of the animals, Napoleon takes nine puppies
from their mothers to "educate" them. The puppies end up being his personal bodyguards and secret police
force. He grows increasingly removed from the other animals, dining alone and being addressed as "our
Leader, Comrade Napoleon." Like Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader who had negotiated with England while
making a secret deal with Hitler, Napoleon negotiates with one of Jones's neighbors, Mr. Pilkington, while
making a secret agreement with Mr. Frederick, another one of Jones's neighbors. Stalin had a reputation for
arranging the death of anyone who stood in his way. After Napoleon chases his former friend Snowball off the
farm, he has countless animals killed who confess to being Snowball's allies. Near the end of the novel, he
stands on two legs, just like the men he had previously denounced, and announces that Animal Farm's name
will revert back to Manor Farm. His name is reminiscent of the historical Napoleon, who became the
all-powerful, autocratic Emperor of the French. Like his French counterpart, Napoleon seems to embody the
idea that with power comes corruption.
A "young boar" who, with Napoleon and Squealer, helps to codify Old Major's ideas into the commandments
of Animalism. Orwell describes him as "quicker in speech and more inventive" than Napoleon. He is the one
who organizes the animals into various committees: "the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean
Tails League for the cows, ... the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep", and various others. He also plans the
defense of the farm against the humans which proves useful when Jones and his friends try to retake the farm.
Snowball shows his expert use of military strategy during the attack—which becomes known as the Battle of
the Cowshed—and is later awarded a medal. Snowball also comes up with the idea of building a windmill to
produce electricity. He represents the historical figure of Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, who was exiled from
Russia by his former partner Stalin, Snowball is eventually run off the farm by Napoleon. After he is gone,
Napoleon uses him as a scapegoat, blaming him for everything that goes wrong on the farm. In an allegory of
the bloody purge trials that took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, the animals confess to scheming
in various ways with Snowball for the downfall of the other pigs. Whoever confesses is slaughtered.
"A small, fat pig" known for being a smooth talker, Squealer reportedly "could turn black into white." He is
the propaganda chief for the pigs, the equivalent of the Soviet party newspaper Pravda (which means "Truth"
in Russian) in Orwell's allegory. Squealer has an explanation for everything, including why the pigs need to
drink the milk the cows produce, why the commandments of Animalism seem different, and why the
"ambulance" called to take Boxer to the hospital has a sign for a horse slaughterer on its side. By the story's
end, he is so fat that his eyes are mere slits. Always on the lookout for a new slogan, he teaches the sheep a
new song to explain why the pigs are suddenly walking on their hind legs. Like any good propaganda boss, he
is able to not only explain the present, he is also an expert at rewriting the past. He makes the animals believe,
Animal Farm: Character Analysis 48
for example, that Snowball never had received the order of "Animal Hero, First Class." But, of course, he had.
Other Characters
Benjamin, a donkey, is "the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered." He is a sad cynic who
believes that whatever the animals do, conditions on the farm will remain equally as bad. Although he usually
refuses to read, he is the one who reads the side of the truck that comes to take Boxer away and realizes it
belongs to the horse slaughterer. Benjamin is moved to action, but he is too late to save his friend. Benjamin
represents the cynical intellectual who refuses to get involved in politics and so fails to affect meaningful
change. His cymcism is much like Orwell's own attitude toward life.
One of the two cart-horses on the farm, Boxer's biggest triumph is his work on the windmill. Despite his
strength, he is sensitive to the feelings of others. During the Battle of the Cowshed, when he accidentally stuns
a stable-boy with blows from his hoofs, he is remorseful: "I have no wish to take life, not even human life."
Boxer has such blind faith in Napoleon that he refuses to question anything the pig says, reasoning, "If
Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." He constantly repeats the slogans: "I will work harder" and
"Napoleon is always right." In the end, once Boxer's health fails and he is no longer able to work, Napoleon
sends him to the horse slaughterer. In Orwell's tale, he represents the common working class who unwittingly
accept their base existence, because they believe by hard work they will get ahead and that their leaders will
protect them. Boxer's lung trouble seems to refer to Orwell's own bouts with tuberculosis.
A "stout, motherly mare," Clover is one of the two cart-horses on the farm, and one of Boxer's closest friends.
She tries to lead the other animals to see events as they really are but is often frustrated in her attempts. She
questions the change in the fourth commandment of Animalism, yet she accepts Squealer's explanation of
why it seems different. When Benjamin sounds the alarm that Boxer is being taken to the horse slaughterer,
Clover runs after the van but is unable to stop it. Like Boxer, she represents the working class, particularly
those who should realize they are being exploited but do not because of their own laziness or apathy.
Mr. Frederick
Mr Frederick is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Pinchfield. His farm is better run than
Pilkington's, but he is always involved in law suits. In Orwell's allegory, Frederick represents Germany and its
leader, Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Frederick is treacherous, and after signing an agreement with Napoleon he
attacks Animal Farm, destroying the animals' windmill.
Mr. Jones
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, gets the animals thinking about revolution when he gets drunk and is
unable to perform all of the chores around the farm. When, in his drunkenness, he stays overnight away from
the farm, and neither he nor his men feed the farm animals, the animals revolt and chase the humans out of the
farm. Jones tries to retake the farm but is unsuccessful. He vanishes "to another part of the country" and dies
there in "an inebriates' home." With his common surname Jones could be any farmer, and his farm any, farm.
In Orwell's political allegory, he represents Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, before the communists took
over the government.
Described only as "a poet," Minimus composes a poem in honor of Napoleon, and a patriotic song that
replaces "Beasts of England." Minimus represents artists who are used by totalitarian states for propaganda
Squealer 49
A vain, white mare whose main concerns when Old Major calls for a Rebellion are having sugar lumps to
chew and ribbons for her mane. She eventually flees the farm to work for humans. She represents those whose
lust for material things blinds them to the importance of freedom.
A tame raven who belongs to Mr. Jones, Moses represents organized religion. He is tolerated by the pigs
because he takes the animals' minds off their troubles by preaching to them about a happy land called the
Sugarcandy Mountain.
A white goat (named after an actual animal that Orwell kept at his farm), Muriel reads better than most of the
other animals and is called on to read the Commandments for them.
Old Major
A "prize Middle White boar," Old Major calls the animals together in the novel's opening scene to explain to
them his vision of a world ruled by animals. Although quite old for a pig, he is described as "still a
majestic-looking pig." He concludes his speech by teaching of the animals the song, "Beasts of England." It
becomes the rallying cry of the Rebellion. Three nights after the meeting he dies in his sleep. He represents
Karl Marx, the German political philosopher who wrote, with Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto
(1848) that called the workers of the world to unite against the ruling classes.
Mr. Pilkington
Mr. Pilkington is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Foxwood. His farm is overgrown with
woodland, for he enjoys hunting and fishing over farming. In Orwell's allegory, Pilkington represents
The sheep function as a group and, therefore, have no individual names. They are taught to bleat the latest
slogan for hours at a time: first, "four legs good, two legs bad," later, "four legs good, two legs better." They
are the "yes-men" in every society who blindly repeat party slogans without knowing what they are saying.
Mr. Whymper
An attorney, Mr. Whymper handles negotiations between the pigs and the outside world. He represents an
intermediary between warring countries who is only too happy to do what is expedient without thinking about
whether it is right.
Animal Farm: Essays and Criticism
Historical Setting for Orwell's Animal Farm
In the following essay, Fitzpatrick, a Ph.D candidate at New York University, notes that an understanding of
the historical setting for Orwell's novel is imperative if the reader is to understand the work as not simply an
indictment of Communism in the Soviet Union.
Stephen Sedley, in a 1984 article in Inside the Myth • Orwell, Views from the Left attacking George Orwell's
Animal Farm as both politically and artistically lacking, points to the fact that his thirteen-year-old daughter
was "bored stiff' by the novel, because she, like most students today, was "too new to political ideas to have
any frame of reference for the story." In this, Sedley has a point: in the early 1980s, I was in high school and
was given Animal Farm to read for the first time, along with the simple (indeed, simplistic) advice that this
Other Characters 50
novel was an allegory of the Russian Revolution and the decline of subsequent Soviet Communism. The
political environment in the United States being what it was in the early 1980s, coupled with the fact of my
total lack of awareness of the circumstances of the Russian Revolution and the principles of Marxist-Leninist
Socialism which the Revolution at first fought for and then lost sight of, my own interpretation of the novel
resembled in both content and complexity the following statement: "George Orwell thought Communism was
Animal Farm is in fact one of the most studied and most readily misinterpreted novels of the twentieth
century. And, given our distance from the events which it allegorizes and from the ideas it counterposes, it has
only become easier to misinterpret since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The pigs have at last been vanquished,
and Mr. Jones has returned to the farm, as we knew he would all along.
But in 1984, as Stephen Sedley was writing, there was no end to the Cold War in sight. The atmosphere on the
Right was one of suspicion of all things Communist—the Soviet Union was, after all, the "Evil Empire," and
the anti-Communist forces in the United States government held an unquestionable position of moral
superiority. The atmosphere on the Left was no better—anything which looked like a criticism of the Soviet
Union was considered a reactionary justification for the oppressions of capitalism.
It is this environment, then, which underscores Mr. Sedley's willful misreading of Orwell's tale. How else
could he come to the conclusion that Orwell's argument in the novel is "that socialism in whatever form offers
the common people no more hope than capitalism; that it will be first betrayed and then held to ransom by
those forces which human beings have in common with beasts; and that the inefficient and occasionally
benign rule of capitalism, which at least keeps the beasts in check, is a lesser evil"?
Insofar as I believe Orwell to have an argument in Animal Farm, I suspect that it was stated much more
closely, with less intervening static, by Adam de Hegedus in an early review of the novel in The
Orwell is not angry with Russia, or with any other country, because that country "turned
Socialist." On the contrary he is angry with Russia because Russia does not believe in a
classless and democratic society. In short, Orwell is angry with Russia because Russia is not
Contrary to Sedley's claims, Animal Farm is not arguing for capitalism as the lesser of two evils, but is rather
angrily pointing out the ways in which the Soviet experiment turned its back on its own principles—and is
perhaps of the opinion that such descent from idealism to totalitarianism is inevitable in any violent
In order to read Animal Farm as the allegory which Orwell's contemporaries understood it to be, one must
first have an outline of the key players. Old Major, the prize boar who first passes on his ideas about animal
oppression by the humans and the future Rebellion of the animals, is commonly thought to represent either
Karl Marx, one of the authors of the 1848 Communist Manifesto, or Vladimir Lenin, who adapted Marx's
ideas to the Russian Revolution. Neither Marx's nor Lenin's influence remained long in its original state. Just
as with Major's ideas, followers of Marx and Lenin "elaborated" their ideas into a complete system of thought
which did not exactly reflect the intent of the original. (Late in his life, Marx insisted that he was certainly not
a Marxist.)
Napoleon and Snowball, the pigs who are primarily responsible for this elaboration of ideas into doctrine,
represent Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, respectively. Some of the novel's details slip a bit from a strict
representation of reality, as Orwell found it necessary to compress some events and change some chronologies
in order to make his story work. For instance, Snowball's original plans for building the windmill correspond
Historical Setting for Orwell's Animal Farm 51
to Lenin's plans for the electrification of Russia; however, though this plan was not the point on which the
Stalin/Trotsky conflict turned, the ultimate result was the same as that between Napoleon and Snowball:
Trotsky was driven from the country under a death warrant; he was reported to be hiding in various enemy
states; he was held responsible for everything that went wrong under the Stalinist regime; and, ultimately, his
supporters were violently purged from the ranks of the Communist Party.
These correspondences between the Russian Revolution and the Rebellion on Animal Farm are generally
agreed upon by the critics. Not much has been said, however, about the allegorical roles played by the humans
in the story. Mr. Jones, quite clearly, represents the last Czar in Russia, whose dissolution and cruelty laid the
groundwork for the workers' rebellion. The neighboring farmers, Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood and Mr.
Frederick of Pinch-field, who are described as being "on permanently bad terms," represent the leaders of
England and Germany respectively. The closeness of their names seems to imply an essential sameness—quite
a shocking notion for a novel written at the end of World War II!—but Pilkington is described as "an
easy-going gentleman farmer who spent much of his time in fishing or hunting according to the season," and
his farm is "large, neglected, [and] old-fashioned." Frederick, on the other hand, is "a tough, shrewd man,
perpetually involved in lawsuits and with a name for driving hard bargains," and his farm is "smaller and
better kept." Pilkington is thus representative of the Allies' lackadaisical attitude toward their neighbors, while
Frederick carries with him elements of German aggressiveness and bellicosity.
In fact, late in the novel, "terrible stories" begin leaking out of Pinchfield about the cruelties Frederick inflicts
on his animals, no doubt corresponding to the horrors of Hitler and the Holocaust. It is thus that much more
shocking when Squealer (who, as Napoleon's mouthpiece, might be said to correspond to Pravda, the Soviet
propagandist press) announces that the deal Napoleon had been working out to sell some timber to Pilkington
has instead been changed so that the deal will be made with Frederick. This devastating turn of events
corresponds to the revelation in 1939 of the secret Nazi-Soviet anti-aggression pact which, like the peace
between Frederick and Animal Farm, did not last long, but was abruptly ended by Hitler's attempted invasion
of Russia.
Once Russia entered the European war on the side of the Allies (culminating in victory for the Soviet Union,
as Squealer claims for Animal Farm, though the only victory was in gaining back what they had before),
increasing attempts were made by Stalin to achieve some level of entente, or agreement, with the other Allied
nations. A series of meetings were held between the leaders of the various nations, and one particular
conference held in Teheran after the war began the eruption into detente, or discord, which resulted in the
protracted Cold War. This conference is represented in the novel by the meeting between the pigs and the
humans at the end, at which a quarrel breaks out over cheating at cards.
Despite this discordant note, however, the final lines of the novel reveal the greatest shock of all. As the other
animals watch through the windows, they notice:
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.
These lines are crucial to a full understanding of the novel. Orwell does not claim here that Napoleon/Stalin is
worse than the humans, and thus that the animals would be better off under benign human control. In fact he
points to an ultimate identity between the pigs and the humans, between Stalin and the leaders of the "free"
nations, an idea which would have been considered heresy by both sides. This conclusion implies not that the
Rebellion has been a failure because the animals are worse off than they would have been under the rule of Mr
Jones, but that the Rebellion is a failure because it has completely set aside its own ideals—which may be seen
in the corruption of each and every one of Animal Farm's Seven Commandments—and landed everyone back
exactly where they started, with the many suffering abuses in order to support the position of an elite few. Or,
Historical Setting for Orwell's Animal Farm 52
in the interpretation of George Woodcock in The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell:
old and new tyrannies belong to the same family; authoritarian governments, whether they are
based on the codes of old social castes or on the rules of new political elites, are basically
similar and present similar dangers to human welfare and liberty.
It seems clear as I reread the novel now, understanding better than I did as a teenager the background against
which Orwell wrote his allegory, and paying close attention to the implications of the novel's last few lines,
that no part of the novel presents any such simplistic, cut-and-dried message as "Communism is Bad." Even
Stephen Sedley's more sophisticated argument about the novel's ideological unsoundness suffers from an
apparent—and misguided—belief that Orwell as novelist held any sympathy for Jones, Pilkington, or Frederick.
Other critics, such as Robert A. Lee, writing in Orwell's Fiction, hold that it is in fact dangerous to read
Animal Farm too strictly as an allegory of a specific set of events, as one may in that way miss a broader
applicability of its meaning. Lee argues that Animal Farm is more than an allegory of twentieth-century
Russian politics, and more even than an indictment of revolutions in general: "Orwell is also," claims Lee,
"painting a grim picture of the human condition in the political twentieth century, a time which he has come to
believe marks the end of the very concepts of human freedom."
This picture of the human condition is what Orwell's allegory has to offer us today, now that the Cold War has
been "won" and the humans are back in control of the farm. I do not believe, as Sedley seems to, that Orwell
would be relieved that the "benign, inefficient" capitalists are back in charge; I believe he would instead point
out that we are deluding ourselves if we think we are closer to those revolutionary ideas of justice,
brotherhood, and equality than were the citizens of Stalinist Russia.
Source: Kathleen Fitzpatnck, in an essay for Novels for Students, Gale, 1998.
Orwell and Socialism
In the following excerpt, Greenblatt explains how Animal Farm reveals Orwell's disgust and disillusion with
the socialist causes he once expounded.
Throughout Orwell's early novels, journals, and essays, democratic socialism existed as a sustaining vision
that kept the author from total despair of the human condition, but Orwell's bitter experience in the Spanish
Civil War and the shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact signaled the breakdown of this last hope and the beginning of
the mental and emotional state out of which grew Animal Farm and 1984. The political disappointments of
the late '30s and '40s did not in themselves, however, disillusion Orwell—they simply brought to the surface
themes and tensions present in his work from the beginning. The socialism Orwell believed in was not a
hardheaded, "realistic" approach to society and politics but a rather sentimental, Utopian vision of the world
as a "raft sailing through space, with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody," provided men, who,
after all, are basically decent, would simply use common sense and not be greedy. Such naive beliefs could
only survive while Orwell was preoccupied with his attacks on the British Raj, the artist in society, or the
capitalist system. The moment events compelled him to turn his critical eye on the myth of socialism and the
"dictatorship of the proletariat," he discerned fundamental lies and corruption. Orwell, in his last years, was a
man who experienced daily the disintegration of the beliefs of a lifetime, who watched in horror while his
entire life work was robbed of meaning.
The first of his great cries of despair was Animal Farm, a satirical beast fable which, curiously enough, has
been heralded as Orwell's lightest, gayest work. Laurence Brander, in his biography of Orwell paints a
charming but wholly inaccurate picture of Animal Farm, presenting it as "one of those apparently chance
Orwell and Socialism 53
pieces a prose writer throws off ... a sport out of his usual way," supposedly written by Orwell in a state where
"the gaiety in his nature had completely taken charge ... writing about animals, whom he loved." The surface
gaiety, the seeming good humor and casual-ness, the light, bantering tone are, of course, part of the
convention of beast fables and Animal Farm would be a very bad tale indeed if it did not employ these
devices. But it is a remarkable achievement precisely because Orwell uses the apparently frivolous form of the
animal tale to convey with immense power his profoundly bitter message. Critics like Laurence Brander and
Tom Hopkinson who marvel at Orwell's "admirable good humour and detachment" miss, I think, the whole
point of the piece they praise. Animal Farm does indeed contain much gaiety and humor, but even in the most
comic moments there is a disturbing element of cruelty or fear that taints the reader's hearty laughter. While
Snowball, one of the leaders of the revolution of farm animals against their master, is organizing "the Egg
Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the cows, the Wild Comrades' Re-education
Committee, the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep," Napoleon, the sinister pig tyrant, is carefully
educating the dogs for his own evil purposes. Similarly, the "confessions" forced from the animals in
Napoleon's great purges are very funny, but when the dogs tear the throats out of the "guilty" parties and leave
a pile of corpses at the tyrant's feet, the scene ceases to amuse. Orwell's technique is similar to a device used
by Evelyn Waugh, who relates ghastly events in a comic setting.
Another critical mistake in appraising Animal Farm is made, I believe, by critics like Christopher Hollis who
talk of the overriding importance of the author's love of animals and fail to understand that Orwell in Animal
Farm loves animals only as much or as little as he loves human beings. To claim that he hates the pigs
because they represent human tyrants and sympathizes with the horses because they are dumb animals is
absurd. Nor is it necessary, as Hollis believes, that the truly successful animal fable carry with it "a gay and
light-hearted message." Indeed, the very idea of representing human traits in animals is rather pessimistic.
What is essential to the success of the satirical beast fable, as Ellen Douglass Leyburn observes in Satiric
Allegory: The Mirror of Man (1956), is the author's "power to keep his reader conscious simultaneously of the
human traits satirized and of the animals as animals." The storyteller must never allow the animals to be
simply beasts, in which case the piece becomes a non-satirical children's story, or to be merely transparent
symbols, in which case the piece becomes a dull sermon. Orwell proved, in Animal Farm, his remarkable
ability to maintain this delicate, satiric balance.
The beast fable, an ancient satiric technique in which the characteristic poses of human vice and folly are
embodied in animals, is, as Kernan points out, "an unrealistic, expressionistic device" (Alvin Kernan, Modern
Satire, 1962), which stands in bold contrast with Orwell's previous realistic manner. But the seeds for Animal
Farm are present in the earlier works, not only in the metaphors likening men to beasts but, more important,
in Orwell's whole attitude toward society, which he sees as an aggregation of certain classes or types. The
types change somewhat in appearance according to the setting—from the snobbish pukka sahibs, corrupt
officials, and miserable natives of Burmese Days to the obnoxious nouveaux riches, greedy restaurateurs, and
overworked plongeurs of Down and Out in Paris and London, but there remains the basic notion that men
naturally divide themselves into a limited number of groups, which can be isolated and characterized by the
astute observer. This notion is given dramatic reality in Animal Farm, where societal types are presented in
the various kinds of farm animals—pigs for exploiters, horses for laborers, dogs for police, sheep for blind
followers, etc. The beast fable need not convey an optimistic moral, but it cannot portray complex individuals,
and thus it can never sustain the burden of tragedy. The characters of a satirical animal story may be sly,
vicious, cynical, pathetic, lovable, or intelligent, but they can only be seen as members of large social groups
and not as individuals.
Animal Farm has been interpreted most frequently as a clever satire on the betrayal of the Russian Revolution
and the rise of Stalin. Richard Rees comments in George Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory (1961),
that "the struggle of the farm animals, having driven out their human exploiter, to create a free and equal
community takes the form of a most ingeniously worked-out recapitulation of the history of Soviet Russia
from 1917 up to the Teheran Conference." And indeed, despite Soviet critics who claim to see only a general
Orwell and Socialism 54
satire on bureaucracy in Animal Farm, the political allegory is inevitable. Inspired by the prophetic deathbed
vision of Old Major, a prize Middle White boar, the maltreated animals of Manor Farm successfully revolt
against Mr. Jones, their bad farmer, and found their own Utopian community, Animal Farm. The control of
the revolution falls naturally upon the pigs, particularly upon Napoleon, "a large, rather fierce-looking
Berkshire boar, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way," and on Snowball, "a
more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but ... not considered to have the
same depth of character." Under their clever leadership and with the help of the indefatigable cart horses
Boxer and Clover, the animals manage to repulse the attacks of their rapacious human neighbors, Mr.
Pilkington and Mr. Frederick. With the farm secured from invasion and the Seven Commandments of
Animalism painted on the end wall of the big barn, the revolution seems complete; but as the community
develops, it is plain that there are graver dangers than invasion. The pigs at once decide that milk and apples
are essential to their well being. Squealer, Napoleon's lieutenant and the ablest talker, explains the
"Comrades'" he cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of
selfishness and privilege. Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. Our sole object in
taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proven by
Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig ... We
pigs are brainworkers ... Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake
that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs
failed in our duty? Jones would come back."
A growing rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon is decisively decided by Napoleon's vicious hounds, who
drive Snowball off the farm. Laurence Brander sees Snowball as a symbol of "altruism, the essential social
virtue" and his expulsion as the defeat of "his altruistic laws for giving warmth, food and comfort to all the
animals." This is very touching, but unfortunately there is no indication that Snowball is any less corrupt or
power-mad than Napoleon. Indeed, it is remarked, concerning the appropriation of the milk and apples, that
"All the pigs were in full agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon." The remainder of Animal
Farm is a chronicle of the consolidation of Napoleon's power through clever politics, propaganda, and terror.
Dissenters are ruthlessly murdered, and when Boxer can no longer work, he is sold to the knacker. One by
one, the Commandments of Animalism are perverted or eliminated, until all that is left is:
After that, it does not seem strange when the pigs live in Jones' house, walk on two legs, carry whips, wear
human clothes, take out subscriptions to John Bull, Tit-Bits, and the Daily Mirror, and invite their human
neighbors over for a friendly game of cards. The game ends in a violent argument when Napoleon and
Pilkington play an ace of spades simultaneously, but for the animals there is no real quarrel. "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."
The interpretation of Animal Farm in terms of Soviet history (Major, Napoleon, Snowball represent Lenin,
Stalin, Trotsky) has been made many times and shall not be pursued further here. It is amusing, however, that
many of the Western critics who astutely observe the barbs aimed at Russia fail completely to grasp Orwell's
judgment of the West. After all, the pigs do not turn into alien monsters; they come to resemble those bitter
rivals Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick, who represent the Nazis and the Capitalists. All three major "powers"
are despicable tyrannies, and the failure of the revolution is not seen in terms of ideology at all, but as a
realization of Lord Acton's thesis, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." The initial
spark of a revolution, the original intention of a constitution may have been an ideal of the good life, but the
result is always the same—tyranny. Communism is no more or less evil than Fascism or Capitalism—they are
Orwell and Socialism 55
all illusions which are inevitably used by the pigs as a means of satisfying their greed and their lust for power.
Religion, too, is merely a toy of the oppressors and a device to divert the minds of the sufferers. Moses, the
tame raven who is always croaking about the sweet, eternal life in Sugarcandy Mountain, flies after the
deposed Farmer Jones, only to return when Napoleon has established his tyranny.
Animal Farm remains powerful satire even as the specific historical events it mocked recede into the past,
because the book's major concern is not with these incidents but with the essential horror of the human
condition. There have been, are, and always will be pigs in every society, Orwell states, and they will always
grab power. Even more cruel is the conclusion that everyone in the society, wittingly or unwittingly,
contributes to the pigs' tyranny. Boxer, the noblest (though not the wisest) animal on the farm, devotes his
unceasing labor to the pigs, who, as has been noted, send him to the knacker when he has outlived his
usefulness. There is real pathos as the sound of Boxer's hoofs drumming weakly on the back of the horse
slaughterer's van grows fainter and dies away, and the reader senses that in that dying sound is the dying hope
of humanity. But Orwell does not allow the mood of oppressive sadness to overwhelm the satire, and
Squealer, "lifting his trotter and wiping away a tear," hastens to announce that, after receiving every attention
a horse could have, Boxer died in his hospital bed, with the words "Napoleon is always right" on his withered
lips. Frederick R. Karl, in The Contemporary English Novel, believes that Animal Farm fails as successful
satire "by virtue of its predictability," but this terrifying predictability of the fate of all revolutions is just the
point Orwell is trying to make. The grotesque end of the fable is not meant to shock the reader—indeed,
chance and surprise are banished entirely from Orwell's world. The horror of both Animal Farm and the later
1984 is precisely the cold, orderly, predictable process by which decency, happiness, and hope are
systematically and ruthlessly crushed.
Source: Stephen J Greenblatt, "George Orwell," in his Three Modern Satirists: Waugh, Orwell, and Huxley,
Yale University Press, 1965, pp. 35-74.
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm
In the following excerpt, Brander applauds Orwell's use of colorful characters and lyrical narrative to balance
his bitterly satirical story.
Animal Farm is one of those apparently chance pieces a prose writer throws off, which immediately becomes
more popular than his more ambitious writings. A sport, out of his usual way; and yet more effective in the
crusade to which he was dedicated than anything else he wrote.
For once, the gaiety in his nature had completely taken charge. He was writing about animals, whom he loved.
He had had a rest of nearly three years from serious writing. He wrote with zest, and although humour rarely
travels across national boundaries, his enjoyment has been shared everywhere. Humour travels most easily in
peasant portraiture, as in The Good Soldier Schweik and Don Camillo; and in animal stories. Not many books
have been translated into so many languages so successfully and so quickly as Animal Farm....
The style, like the form, is unique in Orwell's work. He had been a master of the descriptive way of writing
from the beginning, from the opening words of Down and Out, but he had never before achieved pure
narrative. In Animal Farm, from the start, we feel the special power of the storyteller. The animals expel the
farmer and his men and take over the farm. The farmer tries to come back but is driven away. The other
farmers do not interfere because they look forward to taking the farm over cheaply when the animals have
ruined it. The animals, led by the pigs, do not make a mess of it, and the farm is well enough run for the
authorities to leave it alone. Eventually, the pigs turn out to be harder slave-drivers than men, so in the end the
neighbouring farmers make friends with the pigs and admit that they have much to learn from the labour
conditions on Animal Farm.
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm 56
There is no looseness anywhere in the structure. The story is rounded, the end joining the beginning. The
opening speech of the old boar, Major, is answered at the end in the words of Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon.
The various levels of satire are similarly rounded, so that the story and all its implications form circles each in
its own plane.
The convention of writing animal stories is as old as Aesop in European literature and has been used in
England from Chaucer's time. Every animal corresponds to a human type, and though there were many
animals in the Ark, there are still human types to place against them. Orwell restates the convention right at
the beginning, in the meeting of the animals:
At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his
bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had
lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent
appearance in spite of the fact that his tuskes had never been cut. Before long the other
animals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their different fashions. First
came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Pitcher, and then the pigs who settled down in the
straw immediately in front of the platform. The hens perched themselves on the window-sills,
the pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep and cows lay down behind the pigs and began
to chew the cud. The two cart-horses, Boxer and Clover, came in together, walking very
slowly and setting down their vast hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small
animal concealed in the straw....
The two horses had just laid down when a brood of ducklings, which had lost their mother,
filed into the barn, cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find some place where
they would not be trodden on. Clover made a sort of wall round them with her great foreleg,
and the ducklings nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep. Last of all came the cat,
who looked round, as usual, for the warmest place, and finally squeezed herself in between
Boxer and Clover, there she purred contentedly throughout Major's speech without listening
to a word of what he was saying.
It is an enchanting description. There is the bustle and excitement of assembly, just as in Chaucer's Parlement
of Foules:
And that so huge a noyse gan they make That erthe, and eyr, and tre, and every lake So full
was, that unethe was there space For me to stonde, so full was all the place.
There is the pleasure of watching each animal comporting itself according to its nature. The animal kingdom
at once becomes a reflection of human society.
The scene is a parody of a successful meeting of the political opposition. Get the people together with some
bait. Turn on the orator to bemuse them, and send them away feeling happy and satisfied, but with the seeds
of revolt planted where you want them. The best thing in the parody is the mockery of the egotistical gravity
of political rabble-rousers:
I feel it my duty to pass on to you such political wisdom as I have acquired. I have had a long
life I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I
understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living.
Three days later, Major dies and the spotlight falls upon two younger boars, Napoleon and Snowball, the
Stalin and Trotsky of the story. Napoleon was "not much of a talker" but had "a reputation for getting his own
way." Snowball was intellectually quicker, but "was not considered to have the same depth of character." (Part
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm 57
of the fun of the animal story is the enormous gravity of the author's approach to his characters.) Snowball
obviously has much more brains than Napoleon. It is Snowball who paints the seven commandments against
the end wall of the barn, and when it comes to the battle for Manor Farm, and Jones the farmer tries to recover
his property, it is Snowball who has prepared and drilled the animals for the expected attack. It is Snowball
who leads them and Snowball who is wounded. In the whole episode, Napoleon is never mentioned.
As the community develops, it is observed that Snowball inspired the "Animal Committees," while Napoleon
took no interest in such things. Snowball "formed the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails
League for the Cows ... the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep...." This is the sort of exuberant invention
of absurd trivialities that Swift enjoyed in Gulliver. Napoleon, meanwhile, said that "the education of the
young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up." Snowball
had altruism, the essential social virtue; Napoleon had a lust for power, and intended to get it by making the
animals "less conscious," and that was all he meant by educating the young. Eventually Napoleon wins by his
education of a litter of young hounds, who attack Snowball after his eloquent exposition of the windmill
scheme, and chase him out of the farm. At his best moment, just when his altruistic plans for giving warmth,
food and comfort to all the animals are completed and ready to be carried out, Snowball's brutal rival stakes. It
is the same sort of dramatic timing that we shall find in 1984, an ironic twist to the satire.
After that, the Snowball theme is the denigration of the fallen hero. The animals are all greatly upset by the
incident, and Napoleon's young lieutenant, Squealer, works hard to make them less conscious of what has
"He fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed," said somebody. "Bravery is not enough,"
said Squealer.
"Loyalty and obedience are more important. And as to the Battle of the Cowshed, I believe
the time will come when we shall find that Snowball's part in it was much exaggerated.
Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today. One false step, and
our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?"
"Discipline!" the invariable cry of the political gangsters who are destroying freedom and truth. That is the
first step in the legend that Snowball is the source of evil. The legend grows step by step with the building up
of Napoleon as the leader who thought of everything and is the father of the farm. The windmill was of course
really Napoleon's own idea, and Snowball had stolen the plans from among Napoleon's papers. When the
windmill falls down at the first puff with wind, Napoleon himself comes forth and snuffs around till he smells
Snowball. "'Comrades,' he said quietly, 'do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy
who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!' he suddenly roared in a voice of
Next spring, it was discovered that Snowball "stole the corn, he upset the milk-pails, he broke the eggs, he
trampled the seed-beds, he gnawed the bark off the fruit-trees." A typical touch of hypnosis is supplied when
"the cows declared unanimously that Snowball crept into their stalls and milked them in their sleep."
Napoleon orders a full investigation, and Squealer is able to tell the animals that "'Snowball was in league
with Jones from the very start! He was Jones's secret agent all the time. It has all been proved in documents
which he left behind him and which we have only just discovered.'" The authentic note this, and it is heard
again when Boxer argues that Snowball was once a good comrade: "'Our leader, Comrade Napoleon,'
announced Squealer, speaking very slowly, and firmly, 'has stated categorically—categorically, comrade—that
Snowball was Jones's agent from the very beginning.'"
Boxer was too simple to be safe. So the dogs are set on him, but he kicks them aside and releases the one he
traps under his vast hoof only on Napoleon's orders. At the trial, the confessions of the animals are invariably
of complicity with Snowball. Later it is discovered that far from being the hero of the Battle of the Cowshed,
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm 58
Snowball was censured for showing cowardice. At all these stages the simple animals are very much
perplexed. Eventually it is shown (by the discovery of further documents) that Snowball fought on Jones's
side at the Battle of the Cowshed. The animals are perplexed at each stage of this long denigration, but they
are tired, overworked and underfed and do not remember clearly and the lies are so persuasively put across
that at every stage they believe.
This parable of human perplexity in the face of contemporary propaganda methods is told with great skill. It is
one of Orwell's most effective treatments of the problem which had focused his attention since his experiences
in Spain.
Squealer is the modern propagandist, the P.R.O. (Public Relations Officer) who explains away the worst with
the best of spurious reasons. He is a familiar type, with: "very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble
movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had
a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others
said of Squealer that he could turn black into white."
He was the mouthpiece of the pigs, the new class who were elbowing their way into power by the methods
Orwell marks in an essay on James Burnham: "All talk about democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, all
revolutionary movements, all visions of Utopia, or 'the classless society,' or 'the Kingdom of Heaven on
Earth,' are humbug (not necessarily conscious humbug) covering the ambitions of some new class which is
elbowing its way into power."
In contrast to Squealer is Moses, the tame raven, who specialized in the kingdom of heaven, but not on earth.
Moses disappeared completely for years when the animals took over. It was only when the pigs were in
complete control and had turned themselves into an aristocracy at the expense of the lean and hungry animals
that Moses returns. His tales of Sugar Candy Mountain, where "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was
in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed oil grew on the hedges," are useful again, and in no
way threaten the power of the pigs.
Moses has his allowance of a gill of beer a day from the pigs and he does no work. Squealer works hard all the
time. He represents the organized lying practised in totalitarian states, which, Orwell says in "The Prevention
of Literature": "is not, as is sometimes claimed, a temporary expedient of the same nature as military
deception. It is something integral to totalitarianism, something that would still continue even if concentration
camps and secret police forces had ceased to be necessary."
Squealer comes into his own when Snowball is expelled, after making his name on the milk-and-apple
question. All supplies had been reserved for the pigs, and there is some grumbling: "Many of us actually
dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health."
Needless to say, for the purpose of keeping Jones away.
At the moment of Snowball's expulsion, when Napoleon takes over the leadership, Squealer is at his best:
"'Comrades,' he said, 'I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made
in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure!'"
When there is any fighting, Squealer is unaccountably absent. His time comes afterwards, when the victory
has to be celebrated:
"What victory'" said Boxer
"Have we not driven the enemy off our soil ..."
"Then we have won back what we had before," said Boxer
"That is our victory," said Squealer.
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm 59
A few mornings after that conversation, all the pigs are suffering from a dreadful hangover. It is the drollest
incident in the book, and like everything else has its satirical implications:
It was nearly nine o'clock when Squealer made his appearance walking slowly and dejectedly,
his eyes dull, his tail hanging limply behind him, and with every appearance of being
seriously ill. He called the animals together and told them that he had a terrible piece of news
to impart. Comrade Napoleon was dying! A cry of lamentation went up. Straw was laid down
outside the doors of the farmhouse, and the animals walked on tiptoe.
The next bulletin was that Comrade Napoleon had pronounced a solemn decree as his last act on earth: "the
drinking of alcohol was to be punished by death." Within a couple of days the pigs are busily studying books
on brewing and distilling.
Squealer is central. He keeps the animals quiet. He puts their minds at rest. He has the air of a beneficent
being, sent to make animals happy. He is the agency by which they become "less conscious. "
Napoleon develops in personality. He takes on the character of the legendary Leader more and more. He
becomes progressively remote. From the beginning he is quite different from Snowball and Squealer. He has
none of their mercurial qualities, he is no talker. In the range of porcine character—which would seem to be as
great as the human range—he is at the other extreme a saturnine, cunning pig. A deep pig, with a persistent
way of getting what he wants. He is by far the strongest character on the farm. Just as Benjamin, the donkey,
has the clearest idea of things, and Boxer, the carthorse, is the strongest physically.
Boxer's simplicity of character is sentimental comedy of the purest kind. It is the story of the great big
good-natured person who thinks harm of nobody, believes all is for the best, so everybody should work as
hard as possible and then a little harder still. He is so simple that he does not see his questions are dangerous,
and when the pigs make an effort to eliminate him—which is quite hopeless because of his great strength—he
never understands what has happened. In the tiny Orwell gallery of pleasant characters, Boxer is the favourite.
He is the expression of Orwell's liberal belief in the people: "one sees only the struggle of the gradually
awakening common people against the lords of property and their hired liars..." He is the great big gentle
peasant, the finest flower of the good earth; and he has the usual reward. When at last he collapses from
overwork, the pigs pretend to send him to hospital, and sell him to the knacker. It is the only time that
Benjamin, the donkey, forsakes cynicism for action. He attempts a rescue, but too late. With the money they
get from the knacker, the pigs buy another case of whisky and hold a Boxer memorial dinner.
Squealer is able to give a complete narrative of Boxer's last moments in hospital and is able to quote his last
words: "Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right." Fortunately, too,
he is able to refute the ridiculous rumour that Boxer was sent to the knacker. "The animals were enormously
relieved to hear this."
The last stage of the story comes with the legend on the end of the barn which has replaced the seven
commandments. None of the animals ever detected that only four of them were commandments and the others
were statements of belief. None, except probably Benjamin, who gave no sign, ever quite realized how they
were modified. One by one they had been broken-down and now they had all disappeared and in their place
stood the legend: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." The significance of this
expunging of the law is explained in Orwell's essay on Gulliver's Travels, where he says:
In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of
behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to
conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law.
Characters and Narrative in Animal Farm 60
Squealer arranged public opinion. The pigs were now walking on two legs and wearing clothing. Soon they
were indistinguishable from the other farmers, except only in their superior discipline over their workers. Mr.
Pilkington, proposing the toast of "Animal Farm" at the dinner which the pigs gave to their neighbours, put it
very well: "... a discipline and an orderliness which should be an example to all farmers everywhere. He
believed that he was right in saying that the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less
food than any animals in the county."
Was it wonderful that when the poor animals gazed in they "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"?
The question one poses at the end of this fairy story is whether Orwell had given up hope that mankind would
ever find decent government. It is very difficult here, as in 1984, to decide. He had said in his essay on Swift
that: "Of course, no honest person claims that happiness is now a normal condition among adult human
beings; but perhaps it could be made normal, and it is upon this question that all serious political controversy
really turns."
Essentially, Animal Farm is an anatomy of the development of the totalitarian State: "In each great
revolutionary struggle the masses are led on by vague dreams of human brotherhood, and then, when the new
ruling class is well established in power, they are thrust back into servitude." ("Second Thoughts on James
It is a comment on all revolution: "History consists of a series of swindles, in which the masses are first lured
into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new
masters." (Same essay.)
Nothing is more obvious than where Orwell's sympathies lay. But whether he hoped that the common man
could learn to find rulers is not clear. In Animal Farm he is an artist, posing great questions imaginatively; not
a preacher, proclaiming a revelation.
Source: Laurence Brander, in his George Orwell, Longmans, Green & Co., 1954, pp. 171-82.

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