Animal Farm Chapter Summary

Niamh Ryan
Note by , created almost 2 years ago

Get up to speed on Animal Farm plot with this chapter by chapter summary note. Each chapter has its own note detailing the major plot developments and highlighting important passages from the book.

Niamh Ryan
Created by Niamh Ryan almost 2 years ago
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Page 1

Chapter 1

Plot Summary: The chapter opens by establishing Mr Jones as a drunkard, who does not care enough for his animals to shut the pop-holes on the hens’ enclosure properly. Old Major has had a dream that he wishes to tell the other animals about.  He has organised a meeting of all the animals so that he can do so. Once the animals are settled, Old Major begins to tell the animals about his views on the “nature of life”. He thinks that animals are exploited by Man, who takes all the products of their labour but never pays them back or rewards them and that all the animals will have their lives abruptly ended on the whims of the farmer. He tells them that he thinks a revolution is coming and teaches them a rousing song about his envisioned post-revolution world called “Beasts of England”. The animals get so excited by Old Major’s passionate oratory that they wake  Mr Jones  from his sleep.  Mr Jones puts a prompt end to their meeting by firing his gun into the barn. Quotes and analysis: “Even the stupidest of them had already picked up the tune and a few of the words” - The animals are easily caught up by his captivating speech, which offers them hope of a better future.  They give little though to what life would be like after a revolution.  “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend” “No animal must tyrannize over his own kind” “Man serves the interest of no creature but himself” "Man is the only real enemy we have"  

Page 2

Chapter 2

Plot Summary: This chapter begins with the death of Old Major.  His legacy is the ‘rebellion’ and the clever animals feel that they have a duty to begin to prepare for it. The pigs develop Major’s teachings into a complete theory called Animalism which they begin to teach to the other animals. At first it is a struggle to get the other animals to share in their visions of a changed world.  They struggle to counteract the lies of Moses about Sugarcandy Mountain. One day in June, Mr Jones forgets to feed the animals.  Overcome by hunger and frustration, the animals break into the store-shed.  When Mr Jones and his men try to prevent the animals from taking the food, they suddenly find themselves fleeing from the uncontrollable and enraged animals. The animals celebrate their conquest of the farm and seek to destroy everything on the farm that reminds them of human beings. They draw up The Seven Commandments of Animalism, and change the name of the farm from Manor Farm to Animal Farm. Snowball orders all the animals to the hayfields to harvest the hay, but before they go the cows must be milked. The milk is left behind in the barn, and when they return, it has disappeared. Quotes and analysis: "Mr Jones feeds us. If he were gone we would starve to death" - One of the many objections that the less astute animals offer to the suggestion of a revolution. "Those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery" - The ribbons seem like a harmless decoration to the reader.  They serve to remind us of the bitter hatred that the animals feel towards the humans and everything that has human connotations. "This sudden uprising of creatures, whom they were used to thrashing and maltreating as they chose, almost frightened them out of their wits" - The humans have occupied a position of power on the farm for a very long time.  Their incredulity at the determination of the animals is palpable.

Page 3

Chapter 3

Plot summary: The harvest is very successful and all seems to be going well on the farm. Many of the animals learn to read and write, although some more successfully than others.  The pigs and dogs are quite literate, but many of the other animals never manage to get beyond the first four letters of the alphabet. Nine puppies are born and Napoleon swiftly takes them away from their mother, claiming personal responsibility for their education.  He brings them up to the loft, and many of the other animals forget about them. Quotes and Analysis: "We pigs are brainworkers.  The whole management and organisation of this farm depends on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples" Although every animal should be equal under the new system, we quickly see the pigs adopting a role of superiority and control.  They do not work, and instead give orders, they put forward all the resolutions and they take all the milk. The animals are so enchanted by their dreams becoming a reality that they do not question this. The pigs justify their consumption of the milk as a precaution to protect their health.  They scare the other animals by saying that if the pigs are not healthy, Jones will return.  In this way, they are able to exploit the animals’ greatest fears for their own personal benefit. Orwell intended this declaration to be the turning point in the novel.  He wanted the moral of the story to be that revolutions are only effective when the masses are alert and know how to properly depose a leader.  Its clear that the other animals do not know how to do this and so the animals are doomed to a lifetime of servitude from this point onwards. The animals struggle to remember all seven of the commandments, and so they are reduced to just a single maxim "Two legs good, four legs bad".  Already we see the initial vision of Animalism being obscured and manipulated for the good of the pigs.   "Worthless, parasitical human" This quote emphasises the hatred for humans that has been instilled in the animals.  Such virulent words seem out of character when contrasted with the animals focus on co-operation and equality within the farm.

Page 4

Chapter 4

Plot summary The neighbours are disgusted when they hear than Manor Farm has been taken over by the animals.  Rumours about the farm spread rapidly around the county. Jones and his men try to recapture the farm but are unusuccessful in their attempts. The animals are delighted to be victorious in, what they decide to call, "The Battle of the Cowshed"  Analysis and Quotes: The violence of the animals in this chapter is somewhat shocking. Until now, they have been portrayed as peaceful creatures as they worked to coexist together. "The only good human being is a dead one" They glorify the violence by inventing awards to confer on the brave.    

Page 5

Chapter 5

Plot summary: The animals are disgusted when they see Mollie interacting with a neighbouring farmer.  They find ribbons and sugar cubes hidden in her stall.  Soon after she disappears from the farm and is never seen again. Tension between Snowball and Napoleon rises, as they continue to argue over the plans for the windmill. One day, at a meeting about the aforementioned windmill, Napoleon makes a strange noise and nine dogs attack Snowball, chasing him out of the farm. Napoleon declares that the Sunday meetings will end, and establishes a special committee of pigs that will discuss the issues of the farm instead. Snowball is ridiculed, insulted and portrayed as a criminal by the remaining pigs. It turns out that Napoleon had no real objections to the windmill - in fact, it was his idea in the first place.  He announces that the building of the mill will continue, despite Snowball's expulsion.   Quotes and analysis: Snowball’s expulsion from the farm is both unexpected and shocking.  For Snowball, the pigs’ accumulation of power and authority has suddenly turned against him. They are able to use that power to easily tarnish his reputation. "Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal" What we see is essentially a campaign of propaganda against Snowball. It is disturbing to see how, although many of the animals are appalled by Napoleon’s abolition of the Sunday morning meetings, they cannot articulate their objections because they do not have the necessary education or intelligence."They always found themselves in agreement with the one who was speaking at the moment" Even those that do have the intelligence to speak out are silenced by the threat of violence from the menacing dogs. This is further emphasised by Squealer's comment : "Sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where would we be?" This is an extremely patronising and condescending way to speak to, what are supposed to be, his equals.  However, Squealer gets away with this sort of behaviour because of his superior intelligence. "They wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr Jones" It is clear to the reader that Napolean is evolving into an authoritarian leader, who is no less despicable than Mr Jones was.     

Page 6

Chapter 6

Plot summary: Although the animals work very hard, they have a less successful harvest than the previous year. They work diligently on the construction of the windmill. Soon they realise that they are lacking many essential supplies, which they cannot grow or replace themselves. Napoleon announces his plan to trade with neighbouring farms in order to obtain these essentials. Not long afterwards, the pigs move into the farmhouse, begin to sleep in the beds and declare that they will stay in bed an hour later than everyone else.  All of this is justified by the difficult “brainwork“  that they must do. One day the animals wake up after a storm to find that the windmill is in ruins. Napoleon is quick to blame Snowball, saying that it must have been an act of revenge because of his public expulsion from the farm.  He declares a death sentence on Snowball and offers a reward to any animal that can find him. Analysis and Quotes: The animals start to realise that the original dream for Animalism has been obscured when Napoleon announces that they will engage in trade with neighbouring farms.     "There would be no need for any of the animals to come in contact with any human beings… He would take the whole burden upon his own shoulders"  It is clear that power is more important to Napoleon than any ideology or belief. He knows that he can use the idealogy of Animalism as a tool manipulate the other animals for his own personal benefit.   "Are you certain that this is not something you have dreamed comrades?" (In relation to resolution about human contact) This adds to an ever increasing web of lies and deceit in which the animals are being trapped. They blindly follow all orders and allow themselves to be brainwashed.   "We have removed the sheets from the bed and sleep within blankets" This shows how the pigs are willing to twist the rules of the farm so that they can benefit. The rules are not set in stone, but evolve to meet the pigs' needs as they arise.

Page 7

Chapter 7

Plot summary: The animals toil endlessly through the winter to build the windmill.  By January, they are running out of food, but Napoleon is adamant that the humans, who are hoping for the downfall of Animal Farm, should not know about their hardship. They manage to deceive Mr Whymper on one of his trips to the farm, so that he mistakenly informs the humans that Animal Farm has a plentiful supply of food. Napoleon decides that the hens’ eggs must be sold.  The hens object to this plan and vindictively destroy their eggs.  Napoleon lashes out and cuts their rations for several days.  Eventually the hens give in and agree to cooperate with Napoleon, but not before seven hens have died from hunger.  The real reason for their deaths is concealed from the rest of the farm. The animals are disturbed when they learn that Snowball has been visiting the farm every night.  At a meeting of all the animals, a number of them confess to conspiring with Snowball and are viciously slaughtered on the spot by Napoleon’s loyal dogs. Napoleon decrees that ‘The Beasts of England” should be no longer sung, as it looks forward to the future of a better society, which, in his view, has already been achieved.   Quotes and Analysis: The deception of Mr Whymper emphasises Napoleon’s inability to admit defeat or even weakness. Snowball is an easy scapegoat for all ills of the farm.  Even when evidence is presented to prove that he did not throw the key to the store-shed down the well, the animals continue to accuse him of doing so. Squealer has so much influence over the animals that he is able to alter their memories of the Battle of the Cowshed.  This shows just how brainwashed they have become by the continuous stream of lies which they have received from Napoleon and his sycophants. "For the first time since the expulsion of Mr Jones, there was something resembling a rebellion" "The air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones" Both of these quotes show that the tide is turning on Animal Farm.  Napoleon has established a reign of terror.  The punishment dealt to the hens is patronising, and contrasts sharply with the ideal of equality on which the farm is supposed to be based.

Page 8

Chapter 8

Plot summary: Napoleon is becoming more and more withdrawn from the day to day proceedings of the farm, but it is rumoured that he is in ongoing negotiations with both Mr Pilkington and Mr Frederick in relation to the sale of the wood. Finally, the windmill is finished.  The animals feel deeply satisfied and are happy that all of their toil has paid off. Napoleon manages to make a deal with Mr Frederick in relation to the sale of the wood.  Thinking himself to be cleverer than Mr Frederick, he insists that Mr Frederick pay in cash.  However, Frederick manages to con Napoleon by paying him with forged banknotes.  A few days later, the farm is attacked by fifteen men and Mr Frederick.  They manage to blow up the windmill but do not manage to conquer the farm.  Despite the trail of death and destruction that the Battle of the Windmill leaves, it is hailed by Squealer as a victory. The pigs find some whiskey in the cellar of the farmhouse and become quite inebriated. The next day, they think that Napoleon is dying.  Napoleon decrees that the consumption of alcohol is punishable by death. However, Napoleon suddenly gets better and Squealer is found trying to change one of the commandments to “No animal shall drink alcohol in excess” Napoleon sets aside a field to grow barley to make alcohol.   Quotes and Analysis: Napoleon has managed to place himself on a pedestal in the eyes of the other animals.  They give him the credit for every achievement and allow him to use this elevated status to justify the luxurious life he lives. When Frederick manages to con Napoleon, by paying for the timber with forged cash, it emphasises how Napoleon has repeatedly exaggerated his intelligence and wit to make him appear infallible in the eyes of the animals. Although Napoleon thinks himself to be intellectually superior to all the other animals, what he thinks to be impending death is clearly just the effects of a night of heavy alcohol consumption.  This shows the reader that, at heart, Napoleon is no smarter or better than the other animals. The spirits of the animals have been broken and their optimism is fading.  Although hailed by Squealer as a victory, the rest of the animals see it as a setback. "'What victory?' said Boxer.  His knees were bleeding, he had lost a shoe and split his hoof, and a dozen pellets had lodged themselves in his hind leg."

Page 9

Chapter 9

Plot Summary: Most of the animals suffer through the hardship of reduced rations and overwork, while the pigs allow themselves the entire supply of barley so that they might be able to drink beer every day. One day Boxer hurts his lung while dragging rocks for the windmill.  Napoleon says he will have Boxer taken to the veterinary hospital so that he can get the best treatment. However, when the van comes to take Boxer to the vet, Benjamin realises that the van is that of a horse slaughterer. Napoleon tries to convince the animals that they are confused, but Boxer dies in the 'hospital' and his remains are never returned to the farm. Animal Farm is declared a republic, and Napoleon is elected president.  He continues to spin a web of lies about Snowball - apparently Snowball led the human forces in the battle of the cowshed. Moses returns to the farm, and continues to talk about Sugarcandy Mountain.  The pigs are contemptuous about his declarations, but allow him to stay on the farm, with a daily allowance of beer.   Quotes and Analysis: "Napoleon ended his speech with a reminder of Boxer's favourite two maxims.....maxims, he said, which every animal would do well to adopt as his own" Napoleon has become so ruthless and power hungry that he is willing to use Boxer's death and the love that all the animals felt for him as an instrument to make the animals work even harder. “Squealer always spoke of it as a ‘readjustment’ never a ‘reduction’  (In reference to the reduction of rations) This shows how the pigs' abuse of language is instrumental in their abuse of power.

Page 10

Chapter 10

Plot summary: Many years pass. The farm is larger and more prosperous.  The windmill has been built and there are many more animals on the farm. The farm has grown richer, but the animals, apart from the pigs and dogs, have not.  They look forward to the day when all of England will be "untrodden by human feet". Squealer takes the sheep away to a waste ground at the end of the farm, where he keeps them for most of the week.  The pigs begin to walk on their hind legs and adopt many human habits.  The sheep's mantra has changed to "Four legs good, two legs better" and Benjamin reads that the Commandments have been replaced by a single maxim "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". The farmers visit Animal Farm to inspect it.  They are full of praise for Napoleon's achievements.  Napoleon explains that he has removed many of the original customs of Animal Farm.  The animals no longer refer to each other as 'Comrade'.  They no longer march past Old Major's skull every Sunday, but instead parade past the green flag, which is now plain, the hoof and horn having been removed. He also returns the farm to its original name 'Manor Farm'. Quotes and Analysis: “…the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the county.  Indeed, he and his fellow visitors today had observed many features which they intended to introduce on their own farms immediately” “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 farmers praise Napoleon for his exploitation of the 'lower animals'.  There is a shocking contrast between earlier references to 'parasitical human[s]' and Napoleon's behaviour at the end of the book, where he clearly seeks to imitate the farmers in every way possible. Napoleon has turned into a cruel, authoritarian dictator who believes his species to be superior over all the others.  He is no better than a farmer.  In fact, some might say he is worse because of his ruthless campaign of propaganda which means that the animals are almost unaware that they are being exploited. "She was two years past the retiring age, but in fact no animal had ever actually retired" "Napoleon had denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism.  The truest happiness he said, lay in working hard and living frugally" Napoleon and the pigs are very hypocritical.  They advocate frugal living, yet live in opulence themselves. The entire ideaology of Animalism has been disfigured - all that remains is its name.