Animal Farm Summary
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In the first chapter of the Animal Farm, the animals gather at a meeting in the barnyard of Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm. The meeting is led by the well respected white boar, Old Major, who shows the animals that no animal in England is free. He rationalizes that what they produce is taken by man and the animals do not benefit. Man, according to him, is the source of all problems and when mankind is gone, animals are free to live in peace and harmony. He proposes that all of the animals should avoid man’s habits and that all animals are equal and must not kill one another.
Old Major dies after a few days but his message remains among the animals. The revolt happens when Mr. Jones gets drunk and neglects to milk the cows and feed the animals. The hungry animals riot and manage to get rid of their human masters. After the revolt, Manor Farm, now the “Animal Farm” becomes an efficient society of animals. The society is led by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball who come up “the Seven Commandments of Animalism”. This set of rules characterizes the tenets of Animalism. Snowball reduces the seven commandments to the single maxim “Four legs good, two legs bad!” because many animals are unable to read.
The animals efficiently ran the farm for a little while except that the pigs now issue a decree stating that all windfall apples are to be given for the exclusive use of the pigs because as the leaders, they must keep their “brainpower” up. Meanwhile, the competition between Napoleon and Snowball becomes an intense conflict. They fight over whether or not a windmill Snowball has proposed should be built.
The news of the rebellion now spreads to other parts of the county and instances of animals attacking their masters become prevalent. Mr. Jones has tried to reclaim his power with the help of other farmers but the animals have driven them away. Napoleon also becomes successful in driving Snowball off the farm and incriminating him to be on Mr. Jones’ side. Snowball becomes treated as a traitor and Napoleon becomes a great leader.
Gradually however, the situation at the Animal Farm starts to change. Napoleon dominates the animals with the help of the fierce dogs. He moves into Mr. Jones’ house, sleeps in bed, and even wears clothes. All of which are against the seven commandments but Napoleon always finds ways to interpret them as legal.
Soon, almost every commandment is violated and then changed. The pigs are using all of the resources and giving none to the other animals. Animals and men are not treated alike with animals on the downside. Even the singing of the “Beast of England” is forbidden. The pigs blatantly violate the commandments but change these commandments to suit their human-like lifestyles.
Years have passed, and many of the animals are dead. Only a few remember the days before the rebellion. Some of the animals are very old except that no animal has retired yet. The farm is growing richer, but the animals themselves do not seem to benefit much from it. The pigs rationalizes that the farm has improved but the animals cannot reconcile this with the lack of improvement in their own conditions.
The book ends with the pigs walking on two feet and adopting many of man’s customs and principles. The pigs have violated every rule set out in the beginning. The only thing left out of the Seven Commandments is “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.