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Chapter Summaries of Animal Farm

These are chapter-by-chapter summaries of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a piece of literature that uses allegorical references to the Russian Revolution and the following rise of Stalinism. It explores themes of power, manipulation, and the cyclical nature of oppression.

  • Allegorical references are symbolic representations within a narrative, where characters, events and objects hold a deeper moral or political meaning.

Chapter 1

Mr Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, forgets to lock up the animals because he is drunk. The animals meet in the barn to hear a speech by Old Major, a 12-year-old prize boar pig. He tells the other animals that humans have inflicted a great evil on them. He says that animals live as slaves and that it is time for them to rebel against their masters.

Old Major describes a dream he had the previous night in which animals were free from the cruelty and oppression of humans. To finish the meeting, he teaches them a song called “Beasts of England” that promotes a world where animals have power. The animals sing this song repeatedly until, awoken by the noise, Jones fires his gun from his bedroom window. This breaks up the meeting and the animals go to sleep. 

Chapter 2

Old Major dies three nights later. The animals spend the next three months planning their takeover of the farm. Being the smartest animals on the farm, the pigs are in charge of organising the rebellion. Napoleon and Snowball, two young boars, lead the development of Old Major’s vision into a philosophy called Animalism. Squealer, a small fat pig who speaks very well, communicates their messages to the other animals.

The rebellion takes place when Jones, drunk again, forgets to feed the animals. In desperation, the cows raid the store shed. When Jones and his men discover this, they whip the cows. This spurs all the other animals into action, and they easily overcome the men.

It is revealed that the pigs have learned to read and write. They change the farm’s name to Animal Farm. Also, they give the animals seven commandments of Animalism:

  • Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy
  • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend
  • No animal shall wear clothes
  • No animal shall sleep in a bed
  • No animal shall drink alcohol
  • No animal shall kill any other animal
  • All animals are equal

After exploring the farmhouse, they agree that no animal must live there, but they will preserve it as a museum. The cows are milked, but later on, it is revealed that the milk has gone missing.

Chapter 3

Under the pigs’ leadership, the rest of the animals work hard to bring in the hay. They manage to do this without machines. This is significantly helped by the tireless work of Boxer, a powerful horse.

To variable levels of success, the pigs teach the other animals to read and write. Snowball simplifies their philosophy to help the less intelligent animals: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Napoleon takes nine puppies away, saying that he will educate them himself.

It is discovered that the pigs are consuming the cow’s milk as part of their mash. The realisation causes a stir among the other animals, who are initially shocled by this breach of trust. Squealer argues that this is necessary so that they can think well in their planning.

Chapter 4

At the end of the summer, news of the animal rebellion has spread among the farmers. Mr Jones drinks and bitterly complains about his fortunes. Two neighbouring farmers – Mr Pilkington and Mr Frederick – fear their animals will hear this and start their own rebellion.

The pigeons bring back news that Jones and some other men will try to take back control of the farm. Snowball has been reading about military tactics and uses this to plan a defence. When the men arrive, the animals bravely fight them off. Boxer is particularly courageous. The humans are defeated and the animals celebrate their victory in “The Battle of the Cowshed.”

Chapter 5

During winter, the animals are unable to work in the fields. Instead, meetings are held by Snowball and Napoleon to discuss plans for the future. The two boars disagree on everything. Snowball proposes building a windmill to save the animals’ labour. He also says they must stop further human attacks by spreading Animalism to other farms. Napoleon is against the windmill, arguing they should focus instead of building up their food supply. His plan to counter human attacks is to increase their weaponry.

The animals vote to support Snowball’s windmill proposal. In reaction to this, Napoleon releases the nine puppies – now fully grown, aggressive dogs – who chase Snowball out of the farm. Napoleon declares that there will be no more meetings and a committee of pigs will make all decisions. He then says they will build the windmill, which Squealer tells the animals Napoleon was never opposed to.

Chapter 6

The animals work even harder than they had before. The construction of the windmill falls into many difficulties, but eventually, they get enough stones together to build it. Napoleon announces that he is negotiating trades with humans to get some of the necessary supplies for the farm. This comes as a great shock to the other animals.

The pigs move into the farmhouse. It is rumoured that they are sleeping in the beds, which had been prohibited in the commandments.

During a storm, the windmill collapses. Napoleon blames this on Snowball, whom he says has deliberately sabotaged it. He declares that they will rebuild the windmill.

Chapter 7

Napoleon spreads news to the humans that Animalism is a great success. Meanwhile, the animals battle through starvation and long working hours. When the hens are told to surrender their eggs, they protest against Napoleon. This results in the death of nine hens in the violence that follows.

Napoleon then looks to ensure fearful obedience in the other animals. He has four pigs and three hens, whom he accuses of being traitors, killed by the dogs. He also forces other animals into false confessions about working with the enemy Snowball. The song “Beasts of England” is banned to prevent the animals from getting too stirred up.

Chapter 8

The animals continue to suffer from hunger and cold. In August, the windmill is completed. To the shock of the other animals, Napoleon trades timber with Mr Frederick, who was supposed to be an enemy of theirs. However, the banknotes Mr Frederick has given are declared a forgery, and so Napoleon calls for his death.

Mr Frederick and other men attack the farm with explosives, destroying the newly built windmill. The animals fight them off, but many are badly hurt.

Napoleon takes to drinking some of the alcohol left by Mr Jones. He orders a small paddock to be used to produce more alcohol.

Chapter 9

The animals begin building a new windmill. This is helped enormously by Boxer, who is determined to get the windmill finished before his retirement.

Food supplies continue diminishing and most animals starve while the pigs get fatter. It is announced that Animal Farm is now a republic (a state where one person holds the power), and Napoleon will be the president.

Boxer collapses in exhaustion and is helped back to his stall. Squealer tells the animals that a vet will take him away to treat him. However, Benjamin realises that he has been taken to a glue factory, revealing his tragic fate. Although Squealer manages to convince most of the animals that this isn’t true.

Chapter 10

Years pass, and many of the animals (and Mr Jones) have died. There are now two windmills and more animals working on the farm, but they still work long hours with little food or rest.

Napoleon and the other pigs start walking on two legs and wearing Jones’ clothes. They change the maxim to “Four legs good, two legs better.” Napoleon invites the human farmers in for a meeting and declares that he is changing the name back to Manor Farm. Clover and other animals look through the farmhouse window at the pigs and humans conversing. They can no longer tell the difference between them, as the pigs have adopted human traits and behaviours.

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