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Animal Farm

Animal Farm Summary


Here you will find a Animal Farm summary (George Orwell's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Animal Farm Summary Overview

An award-winning pig, Old Major, gathers his fellow farm animals for an assembly where he shares his dream of a world where all animals coexist without human oppression. After his death, three younger pigs - Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer - articulate his ideas into a philosophy named Animalism. Through a successful revolt, they oust the human farmer, Mr. Jones, from the property, now renamed as the Animal Farm. With new found passion for the cause, Boxer, the horse, dedicates his strength for the farm's prosperity, vowing to work harder than before. The Animal Farm initially thrives under the new leadership. Snowball focuses on teaching the animals to read while Napoleon takes the young pups under his wing to instill in them the principles of Animalism. Despite defeating Mr. Jones again in what would later be referred to as the Battle of the Cowshed, internal disagreements between Napoleon and Snowball escalate. Napoleon ruthlessly drives Snowball away from the farm with his pack of dogs, thus assuming undisputed authority and dismantling the democratic structure of the farm. He now declares that only pigs will make decisions for the collective good. Napoleon suddenly reverses his stance on the windmill project previously proposed by Snowball, and the animals, particularly Boxer, devote themselves to its completion. When the windmill collapses, Napoleon blames it upon Snowball's sabotage. Any animal questioning Napoleon's leadership meets a swift end by the dogs. Napoleon, with his authority unchallenged and his deeds justified by his propagandist, starts displaying human-like behaviors - sleeping in a bed, drinking alcohol, and trading with other farmers. Betraying his loyal workforce, Napoleon sells the injured and aging Boxer for whiskey money. Over the years, the pigs grow more human-like, and the original principles of Animalism are manipulated to justify their actions. By the end, the animals peering through the farmhouse window can no longer differentiate between the pigs and the humans.

chapter 1

When the drunken Manor Farm owner, Mr. Jones, goes to bed without securing his farm, all animals except Mr. Jones’s pet raven, Moses, gather in the barn. They assemble to hear a speech from Old Major, a respected elderly boar. Knowing he is nearing his end, Major wants to share his life's wisdom with the other animals. Old Major tells the animals their lives are filled with hardship, toil, and are brief. They are born as slaves, overworked from a young age, barely fed, and ruthlessly killed when they are not of use. He points out the abundant resources of their farm could allow them all to live lavishly, saying their suffering is purely due to the humans exploiting them. According to Major, Mr. Jones and his kind have been benefiting from the animals' work without giving anything valuable in return. Old Major shares a dream he had about a world where animals live without human oppression. In this world, animals are free, happy, well-fed, and respected. He encourages the animals to strive to make this dream come true by overthrowing their human masters. The only way to succeed, Major says, is if all animals unite against humans and reject the idea that humans and animals have shared interests. After a short debate about whether rats can be allies, Major sets a rule - four-legged or winged creatures are friends, while two-legged creatures are enemies. He warns them not to adopt human habits after defeating them. He introduces them to a song, "Beasts of England," that portrays his dream of an ideal animal community. As the animals sing the song together, Mr. Jones fires a shot into the barn, mistaking the noise for a fox. The animals then go to sleep, restoring Manor Farm to silence.

chapter 2

After the demise of Old Major, the animals secretly plan for three months to seize the farm from Mr. Jones. The pigs, being the wisest, take charge, particularly two of them, Napoleon and Snowball. Along with Squealer, a persuasive pig, they create the ideology of Animalism and spread its principles among the animals. The animals address each other as "Comrade," and turn to the pigs for advice about the forthcoming revolt. However, some animals struggle with understanding Animalism, having always considered Mr. Jones as their rightful owner. Mollie, a vain horse, questions if she can still enjoy her luxuries in the animals' utopia. Snowball informs her that such pleasures represent oppression and must be removed in their utopia. Mollie is unenthusiastic but agrees. Their main challenge comes from Moses, the raven, who tells stories of a paradise called Sugarcandy Mountain, where animals go after death. Despite disliking Moses, the animals are drawn to the concept of Sugarcandy Mountain. The pigs toil to dismiss Moses's teachings as false. With the aid of the dim-witted but faithful horses, Boxer and Clover, the pigs successfully ready the animals for revolution. The Rebellion happens sooner than expected and surprisingly easily. Mr. Jones, driven to drinking after losing a lawsuit, neglects the farm and the animals. One day, after a drinking spree, Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals. Hungry, the cows start eating from the store, which leads Mr. Jones and his workers to whip them. The animals retaliate, forcing the men off the farm. The animals, amazed by their victory, destroy all signs of their past servitude and celebrate by singing "Beasts of England." The next day, they tour the farmhouse, awestruck at the luxury within. Mollie, drawn to the ribbons and mirror, is scolded by the others. They decide to keep the farmhouse intact as a museum, with a rule that no animal should reside there. The pigs then disclose that they have learned to read. Snowball renames "Manor Farm" as "Animal Farm" and, along with Napoleon, paints the seven principles of Animalism on the barn wall. The animals begin harvesting, but the cows, needing milking, distract them. The pigs milk the cows, the milk is set aside, and the animals resume their work. When they return, the milk is gone.

chapter 3

During the grueling summer, all the animals work together to harvest the fields. Devising effective ways to employ human tools, the smart pigs ensure everyone contributes according to their abilities. The yield from the harvest is the largest ever seen on the farm, except for Mollie and the cat, who avoid work. The stout and diligent Boxer shoulders most of the heavy work, and his motto becomes “I will work harder!” His commitment and strength impress everyone, except for Benjamin, the stubborn donkey, who remains unaffected by the new regime. Each Sunday, the animals gather to hoist their flag, a green banner symbolizing England's fields, with a white hoof and horn representing them. These ceremonies are followed by democratic meetings where they discuss and set new policies for the common benefit. At these gatherings, Snowball and Napoleon are the most vocal, though their views are always in opposition. Snowball forms several committees, like those to clean cow's tails or to educate rats and rabbits. Although most of them fail, the effort to teach all animals reading and writing has some success. By summer's end, all animals gain some literacy. The pigs become fully literate, some dogs can read the Seven Commandments, Muriel can read newspaper scraps, Clover can recognize alphabets but can't make words, and Boxer can barely make it past 'D'. Snowball simplifies the Seven Commandments into one: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” The birds initially protest until it is clarified that wings are counted as legs. The animals accept this, and the sheep often repeat it mindlessly. Napoleon shows no interest in Snowball’s committees. When Jessie and Bluebell have puppies, he takes responsibility for their upbringing, prioritizing their education over adult education. He rears them out of sight in a loft. Around the same time, the animals are shocked to discover that the pigs have been taking all the apples and milk. Squealer justifies this, claiming that the pigs require these for their cognitive tasks, which ultimately benefit everyone. The fear of Mr. Jones's return if the pigs' brains fail due to lack of apples and milk scares the animals, leading them to agree to the pigs' selfish actions for the collective good.

chapter 4

By the end of summer, Animal Farm's reputation has reached throughout the county. Mr. Jones is living a pitiful life in Willingdon, drowning his sorrows in alcohol and complaining about his downfall. Neighbouring farm owners, Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick, are afraid their animals might be influenced. But due to their existing rivalry, they're unable to unite against Animal Farm. Instead, they just spread negative gossip about the farm. At the same time, animals elsewhere start singing “Beasts of England," taught by pigeons sent by Snowball, and exhibit signs of rebellion. In early October, pigeons warn Animal Farm that Mr. Jones and some men from Pilkington’s and Frederick’s farms are advancing towards them. Snowball, having read about Julius Caesar's battle strategies, readies a defense and leads the animals into an ambush against the men. Boxer and Snowball fight bravely, leading to a swift defeat of the humans. The loss on the animal's side is just one sheep, who is given a heroic burial. Boxer, thinking he accidentally killed a boy during the fight, feels remorse. But Snowball reassures him saying, "the only good human being is a dead one." Mollie, as usual, escapes any danger by hiding. Snowball and Boxer are awarded “Animal Hero, First Class” medals. They find Mr. Jones's abandoned gun and agree to fire it twice a year to commemorate the Battle of the Cowshed and the Rebellion.

chapter 5

Mollie's unruly conduct poses problems on Animal Farm. She reports to work late and interacts with men from neighboring farms. Eventually, she disappears, seduced by a man who pets her and offers her sugar. Now, she pulls his carriage and is never mentioned again by the other animals. During the frigid winter, the animals meet in the barn. Snowball and Napoleon continuously argue. Snowball is a superior speaker and comes up with a plan to build a windmill for generating electricity and easing farm work. However, Napoleon argues that they should focus on immediate needs. The issue creates a rift among the animals. Napoleon shows his disdain for Snowball's plan by urinating on it. Once Snowball completes his plans, the animals gather to vote on the windmill project. Snowball delivers a compelling speech, while Napoleon's response is unimpressive. Snowball continues his persuasive speech, but before the animals can vote, Napoleon signals nine big dogs who attack Snowball, driving him away from the farm. Napoleon then announces that meetings will only be held for ceremonial purposes, and all major decisions will be made by the pigs. After this, the animals are left confused. Squealer assures them that Napoleon's actions are for the best. He labels Snowball as a traitor and criminal, and the animals accept this. Boxer elevates Napoleon's status by adopting the slogans “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” When Napoleon announces his support for the windmill three weeks after Snowball's departure, Squealer explains that it was a tactic to expel Snowball. The animals accept this explanation, convinced by Squealer's persuasive words and the threatening presence of his three dogs.

chapter 6

Throughout the year, the animals labor tirelessly, both to gather sufficient food and to construct the windmill. The leaders reduce food rations, which Squealer defends as a "readjustment"—no food is given unless work is done on Sundays. The animals remain motivated as they believe this hard work is for their own benefit, not for humans like Mr. Jones. Boxer works exceptionally hard, doing the work of three horses without complaint. Constructing the windmill poses challenges, especially breaking stones into buildable pieces without proper tools. The animals eventually learn to smash stones into usable chunks by dropping them from a height. By the end of summer, they have enough stone to begin the windmill's construction. The animals' tasks, although demanding, are not any worse than under Mr. Jones. They have adequate food and can manage the farm with less difficulty as humans no longer take their produce. However, the farm lacks resources like iron, nails, and paraffin oil. As these supplies dwindle, Napoleon hires Mr. Whymper, a human solicitor, to trade for Animal Farm. The animals are shocked by this interaction with humans, but Squealer reassures them that trade and money usage were never banned in their founding principles. Any contrary memory, he claims, is a lie from the traitorous Snowball. Mr. Whymper starts visiting the farm every Monday, helping Napoleon order necessary supplies. Rumors swirl that the pigs are living in the farmhouse and sleeping in beds, which violates one of the Seven Commandments. However, when investigated, the commandment now reads “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” Squealer explains that every animal sleeps in beds, like straw piles, but sheets, a human creation, are the real evil. He convinces the others that the pigs need comfortable rest to effectively run the farm. Soon, a powerful storm hits Animal Farm, damaging roof tiles, an elm tree, and the flagstaff. The animals are horrified to find that their hard-earned windmill has been destroyed. Napoleon accuses Snowball of the sabotage and pronounces a death sentence on him, promising a reward for his killer. He passionately convinces the animals to rebuild the windmill, regardless of the strenuous work required. He ends with a rallying cry, "Long live the windmill! Long live Animal Farm!"

chapter 7

The winter is harsh and the animals are tasked with reconstructing the windmill. They run out of food but hide this from neighboring human farmers to maintain the appearance of prosperity. When their human neighbors suggest the windmill's destruction was due to inadequate wall thickness, the animals dismiss this but still make plans to double the thickness in the rebuild. As Squealer rallies the animals with speeches, it's Boxer's tireless effort that truly motivates them. In a controversial move, Napoleon decides to sell eggs weekly, sparking a rebellion among the hens. Napoleon retaliates by cutting their food, leading to the death of nine hens. In the midst of this, rumors circulate that Snowball has been secretly visiting and sabotaging the farm. Napoleon fuels these rumors, blaming Snowball for any mishap. Squealer announces that Snowball has betrayed them, now in allegiance with Mr. Frederick's farm and Mr. Jones. This shocks the animals who remember Snowball's bravery during the Battle of the Cowshed. Napoleon and Squealer, however, twist this memory, convincing the others that Snowball's heroics were part of his betrayal and Napoleon was the real hero. Four days later, Napoleon gathers all the animals for a public trial, accusing some of them of conspiring with Snowball. His dogs are ordered to execute the 'traitors', which includes the rebellious hens. The animals are left traumatized by the violent scene. Boxer concludes that they themselves must be at fault and vows to work even harder. As Clover reflects on the tragic state of their rebellion, Squealer announces that the song "Beasts of England" is no longer to be sung. He offers a new song that praises Animal Farm, but it fails to inspire the animals like the previous anthem did.

chapter 8

Following the brutal killings, the animals notice a change in the commandment from “No animal shall kill any other animal” to “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” Assuming it's a mistake in their memory, they continue working hard on rebuilding the windmill despite hunger and cold. Squealer's continuous reading of statistics proves their conditions are better than before under Mr. Jones, and are still improving. Napoleon, now addressed as “Leader”, is flattered by several other titles, and Minimus even pens a poem praising him. He negotiates the sale of timber left from Mr. Jones' time with Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington. Depending on which deal is more favorable, the animals are taught to despise the other farmer. The farm not in favor is reputed to be Snowball's hideout. Surprisingly, the timber is finally sold to Mr. Frederick for cash instead of a check, which the pigs claim is a mark of Napoleon's intelligence. The windmill is finally built, but the joy is short-lived. Napoleon discovers that the banknotes from Mr. Frederick are counterfeit. Mr. Frederick then attacks Animal Farm with armed forces, blowing up the newly built windmill. This provokes a fierce reaction from the animals who manage to chase the men away, but not without suffering casualties and injuries, including a severe one to Boxer. Soon after, the pigs find whisky in the basement of the farmhouse and a night of noisy celebration ensues. There are rumors the next day that Napoleon might be dying from a hangover, but he recovers by evening. That night, Squealer is found by the barn with a paintbrush, having fallen off a ladder. The animals then notice another change in the commandments: “No animal shall drink alcohol” has transformed into “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess,” and once more, they blame their own faulty memories.

chapter 9

As the animals weakly rebuild the windmill, Boxer, despite his injuries, refuses to stop working. Though he seems to lose some of his former strength, he's determined to see the windmill project through before he retires. The scarcity of food intensifies, but the pigs and dogs continue to enjoy plentiful rations. Squealer justifies this by claiming that when the pigs and dogs are well-fed, all animals benefit. Napoleon starts organizing events called Spontaneous Demonstrations to celebrate Animal Farm and any protests are silenced by the sheep. Animal Farm becomes a republic with Napoleon as the president and the only candidate. Meanwhile, the leadership accuses Snowball of treason during the Battle of the Cowshed, and the animals accept this narrative easily. Moses the raven returns, sharing tales of Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs allow him to live on the farm without contributing to the work. Tragically, Boxer collapses while working. Despite the pigs' claim that they would take him to a hospital, Benjamin reveals that Boxer is being taken to a glue factory. The animals cry out in vain for him to escape. Squealer later announces Boxer's death, claiming he spent his last moments praising Animal Farm. He dismisses the glue factory rumor as a misunderstanding due to the hospital's use of an old glue maker's cart. The animals are relieved and comforted by Napoleon's speech praising Boxer. Shortly after, sounds of celebration come from the farmhouse, the pigs have managed to buy another crate of whisky, leaving the other animals wondering where the money came from.

chapter 10

Time goes by, with many animals growing old and dying, and few remembering the time before the Rebellion. A new windmill is built, used for milling corn instead of generating electricity - a more lucrative use. The farm appears wealthier, but only the pigs and dogs enjoy comfortable lives. Squealer justifies this by claiming their work - like paperwork - is crucial. The other animals mostly accept this and continue living as they always have, still proud of Animal Farm and its aim of a human-free world with animal equality. One day, Squealer teaches the sheep a new chant in a secluded spot. Shortly after, the animals end their workday to the sounds of a horse's frightened neigh. It's Clover, who quickly gathers all animals to the yard. They're astonished to see Squealer and Napoleon walking on their hind legs, with Napoleon even carrying a whip. Before they can react, the sheep start chanting "Four legs good, two legs better!" Clover, due to faltering eyesight, asks Benjamin to read the barn wall where the Seven Commandments were written. Only the final commandment remains, but it now has an addition: "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." In the following days, the pigs start smoking, subscribe to human magazines, listen to the radio, install a telephone, and even wear human clothes salvaged from Mr. Jones’s wardrobe. Eventually, the pigs invite human farmers to visit Animal Farm. The farmers, including Mr. Pilkington, commend the pigs and express regret for past conflicts. Clover and the other animals observe from a window as Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon toast to each other. Pilkington then praises how hard and efficiently the pigs have made the animals work. Napoleon assures them that the pigs wish to peacefully conduct business with humans and announces changes to Animal Farm's customs. They will no longer use "Comrade" as a term of address, pay homage to Old Major, or salute a flag with a horn and hoof upon it. Napoleon also renames Animal Farm as Manor Farm, its "correct and original name." As the pigs and farmers resume their friendly card game, the other animals quietly withdraw from the window. However, a dispute draws them back - Napoleon and Pilkington have both played the ace of spades and accuse each other of cheating. As the animals peek in, they suddenly realize they can't tell the pigs and humans apart.

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