Chapter-wise Summary of Animal Farm by George Orwell
Prominent Characters in Animal Farm
- Mr. Jones
- Old Major
- Mr. Pilkington
- Mr. Frederick
- Mr. Whymper
Introduction to the Animal Farm
Animal Farm is a short story book of around 102 pages and 10 chapters and is written by George Orwell. It is an allegorical novella that was first published in England on 17 August 1945. The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy.
Chapter-wise Summary of Animal Farm
Chapter 1 Summary
All the animals of the farm secretly met at night where Old Major, a white boar, delivered his ideas in a forceful speech and incited all the animals for rebellion against Man. He told the animals that their real enemy is a man. He told them that all the toils, hard work, and efforts are carried out by them (the animals) while all the benefits and perks of those efforts are accrued by the men. Thus, all the animals of the farm got united for their common interest and goal of freedom and struggle against the man owning the farm.
Chapter 2 Summary
One night, Old Major died in sleep. The rebellion by animals took place afterward because the farm animals were kept hungry for almost 24 hours and no one paid heed to them. Thus, the animals revolted and expelled Mr. Jones and his men out of the farm. Two pigs, Snowball and Napolean, served as leaders at this time. The erstwhile name of the farm ‘Manor Farm’ was replaced by ‘Animal Farm’ with paint. Afterward, Snowball (who knew how to write) painted the Seven Commandments (Animal Laws) on the wall.
- 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.
Chapter 3 Summary
It was time to harvest the crops. Almost all the animals made their best efforts except the cat that always went missing when it was about working but always present during mealtime. Boxer (the horse) being energetic and muscular did extra hard work in the field than others. The pigs didn’t work but supervised the ongoing work. The animals were happy as it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves.
In reading and writing, pigs were perfect. However, other animals were in great trouble in learning it. Most of the animals were unable to learn the seven commandments by heart. Hence, Snowball reduced the seven commandments into a single maxim, namely: Four legs good, two legs bad. Birds first objected to it but soon were convinced that their wings were regarded as legs.
All the milk and apples were consumed by the pigs. The animals on the farm opined that it should be divided equally. But the clever pigs made clever explanations to them that all the brainwork for the welfare of the animal farm was done by pigs. So apple and milk were necessary to preserve their health. If they failed to fulfill their duties, this farm would again be taken over by Jones. On this point, the animals had to agree without objection.
Chapter 4 Summary
The news of the animal farm spread half the country by the late summer. This made other farms’ owners frightened by what had happened in the Manor Farm and anxious about the possible rebellion by the animals of their own farm. The tune and the word of the Beasts of England (freedom song of animals inciting rebellion) were spread to and known everywhere. To stop the possible rebellion, any animal caught singing the song was given a flogging on the spot; yet the song was irrepressible.
In October, Mr. Jones along with half a dozen others made an attempt to recapture the farm. Under the able leadership of Snowball, the men took to their heels within five minutes. Only one sheep was killed during the war. The battle was named ‘the Battle of the Cowshed’.
Chapter 5 Summary
There have always been disagreements between Snowball and Napolean. Animals on the farm were often divided into two camps; one following Snowball and the other following Napolean.
One major disagreement between the two erupted over the windmill. Snowball put forth multiple arguments in favor of windmill that it will lighten the burden from animal’s back by operating certain machines, and it will keep the stalls warm during winters, etc. Disfavoring the idea, Napolean argued that the great need of the moment was to increase food production.
The second major disagreement between the two was on the question of the defense of the farm. According to Napolean, animals must procure firearms and train themselves arguing that if they couldn’t defend themselves, they were bound to be conquered. While, Snowball favored sending out more pigeons to stir up rebellion in the other farms, arguing that if rebellions happened everywhere, they would have no need to defend themselves.
During the meeting in which the question of the windmill was put to vote, Napolean ousted Snowball from the farm with the help of dogs. Later on, Napolean assumed the leadership of the farm. Occasionally he put down the dissenting voices with the help of threatening dogs. Napolean, later on, announced that the windmill has to be constructed after all.
Chapter 6 Summary
Construction of the windmill presented multiple challenges to the animals ranging from the breaking up of stones to the arrangement of various tools and machinery. As usual, Boxer performed some extra laborious work in breaking and shifting stones.
One Sunday morning, when animals gathered to receive orders from Napolean, they were told that now Animal Farm would engage in trade with neighboring farms to procure the required tools. This was in clear violation of the three of the seven commandments that animals would never deal with human beings, engage in trade, and make use of money. Once again it raised concerns among animals, but the dissenting voices were silenced by the growling of the dogs. With the help of Mr. Whymper (a solicitor), Animal Farm started engaging with the outside world.
The pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse, started taking meals in the kitchen, using the drawing-room as a recreation room, and sleeping in the beds. This was again the violation of one of the seven commandments that no animal would sleep in the bed. Once again, Squealer convinced the animals that it was necessary for the comfort of the pigs as they have to do much of the brainwork.
With the efforts of a year, the windmill was half-built. On one night in November, there came a strong wind that razed the windmill to the ground. Napolean put all the blame on Snowball and pronounced the death sentence upon him. He issued decrees for the rebuilding of the windmill.
Chapter 7 Summary
In January, the food fell short. Animal Farm was on the brink of starvation. But, Napolean didn’t want the outside world to get to know this situation. Quite cunningly, he succeeded in showing Mr. Whymper the bins that were nearly filled with sand but covered up with grain and meal. Thus, Whymper reported to the outside world that there was no food shortage at the Animal Farm.
Towards the end of January, procuring grain from somewhere became necessary. Through Whymper, Napolean made a contract for four hundred eggs a week, the price of these would be enough for grain and meal to keep the farm going. However, when hens learned of surrendering their eggs, they revolted. But soon, they have to capitulate when their ration was stopped.
Suddenly it was discovered that Snowball was secretly visiting the farm by night causing much trouble and nuisance. Whenever anything went wrong on the farm, it was attributed to Snowball. Meanwhile, Squealer announced that Snowball has sold himself to Frederick of Pinchfield Farm, and is planning to attack the Animal Farm. Further, Snowball was in league with Jones from the beginning – this thing animals felt trouble to believe in, given his participation in the War of Cowshed. But Squealer made them believe that when Snowball turned and fled, it was Napolean who made an attack and sank his teeth in Jone’s leg.
Four days later, Napolean ordered animals to assemble in the late afternoon. In this assembly, all those animals including four pigs, three hens, and a sheep, were cruelly slaughtered who were in any way attached with Snowball. All the remaining animals were deeply shaken by this spectacle.
Lastly, Squealer announced that by a special decree of Napolean, ‘Beast of England’ had been abolished. As this was the song of rebellion which is now completed, so this song has no longer any purpose. Instead, Minimus (the poet) had composed another song which began;
Animal Farm, Animal Farm,
Never through me shalt thou come to harm!
Chapter 8 Summary
After the dreadful episode of animals’ execution, animals remembered the sixth commandment ‘No animal shall kill any other animal’. But when referred to the written commandment, Muriel read out the Commandment, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause”. This satisfied the animals for those executed were killed because of a reason.
On the question of selling the pile of timber that both Mr. Pilkinton and Mr. Frederick wanted to buy; Napolean decided to sell it to Pilkington. The relations between Napolean and Pilkington grew friendly. Moreover, there were rumors that Frederick is planning to attack Animal Farm. Also, there was news that very harsh treatment is meted out to the animals at Pinchfield. Thus, Napolean mentioned that he considered it below dignity to sell the pile of timber to Frederick. Moreover, the slogan ‘Death to Humanity’ was changed to ‘Death to Frederick’.
With exhausting efforts, the construction of the windmill was also completed. But, the machinery was still to be installed that was to be purchased from the money obtained by selling the pile of timber. This time the walls of the windmill were twice as thick as before. Animals were confident that only explosives can destroy the windmill now.
Two days later, in a meeting, animals were surprised to hear that Napolean had sold the pile of timber to Frederick. He told animals that the news of planning of an attack on Animal farm was untrue and that of harsh treatment to animals were rumors. This time, the slogan ‘Death to Frederick’ was changed to ‘Death to Pilkington’. Squealer told animals that it was a trick to play friendly with Pilkington to force Frederick to raise the price. Finally, Napolean got the payment in cash in real five-pound notes. The amount was enough to buy machinery for the windmill.
Three days later, terrible news shook the Animal Farm. The bank-notes were forgeries. Napolean immediately called the animals together and pronounced the death sentence upon Frederick. He also warned that Frederick might attack Animal Farm at any moment.
The next morning, the attack came. Initially, the animals couldn’t resist the attack and face the explosions and pellets. They took refuge in the farm buildings. Finally, Frederick with his men approached the windmill and destroyed it completely with explosives. At this sight, animals couldn’t bear this and launched a fierce attack which forced Frederick and his men to retreat and run away. Afterward, animals rejoiced their victory in this war and named the war ‘The War of the Windmill’.
Chapter 9 Summary
Life was harder, as the winter was cold and there was a food shortage (for all the animals, except the pigs and the dogs); yet animals believed that they were living a better life than the life they had spent under Jones. There were now more mouths to feed with the birth of thirty-one young pigs. It was announced that a schoolroom would be built for them. The young pigs were discouraged from playing with other young animals. It was laid out as the rule that if a pig and other animal met on the path; the other animal must stand aside.
As the farm was short of money; to save for the construction of the schoolroom and the windmill, rations for the animals were considerably reduced and lanterns in the stalls were forbidden to save oil.
This time, Boxer worked harder than ever. His appearance has altered; his haunches seemed to have shrunken. Still, his will had kept him going. One evening, while he had gone alone to drag a load of stone down to the windmill, he fell and couldn’t get up. His eyes were glazed, sides matted with sweat and a thin stream of blood had trickled out of his mouth. About half the animals rushed towards Boxer when they learned about it.
Squealer was told immediately about this incident but he appeared on the scene after fifteen minutes and told with great sympathy that Napolean had made arrangements to send Boxer to the hospital at Willingdon. Animals showed concerns about sending Boxer to be treated by a human but Squealer convinced them that veterinary surgeon could treat him more satisfactorily. For the next two days, Boxer remained in his stall, and Clover and Benjamin have taken care of him.
Animals were working under pigs’ supervision when Benjamin came running and shouting that they are taking Boxer away. Animals raced back to the farm building and crowded the van shouting ‘Good-Bye Boxer’. But Benjamin asked them to read what was written on the side of the van. Then he read it, ‘Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer, and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.’ – “They are taking Boxer to the Knacker’s”, he shouted.
Filled with horror, animals started chasing the van to stop it but failed to do so. Boxer was never seen again. Three days later, Squealer announced that Boxer had died in the hospital. To remove the animals’ suspicions, he told them that the van was previously the property of a knacker and then was sold to the veterinarian who had not yet painted the old name out, and the animals believed him.
Later, Napolean gave a speech in Boxer’s honor and announced that pigs are intended to hold a memorial banquet in Boxer’s honor.
Chapter 10 Summary
Years passed and multiple changes occurred on the farm. Many new animals came and many old ones died. The hardships and hunger were still there. Still, animals marveled at being part of the farm owned and governed by the animals. They were hopeful of the day when the fields of England would be entirely owned by the animals as foretold by Old Major. They didn’t know when exactly it will come, yet they were sure it was coming, if not in their lives.
One day after work, in the evening, the animals were startled when they saw the pigs walking on their hind legs in a long file. Napolean also came walking on his hind legs with a whip in his trotter. There was a deadly silence out of fear that was broken by a tremendous bleating of sheep – “Four legs good, two legs better!”
Now, in lieu of the Seven Commandments, there written only a single Commandment on the wall.
‘ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.’
The next day, the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm carried whips in their trotters.
A week later, a deputation of neighboring farmers made a visit to Animal Farm, expressing great admiration for everything esp. the windmill. In the evening, there came loud laughter and burst of singing from the farmhouse. In curiosity, animals crept to see what’s going on. Peering in at the dining-room window, animals saw half a dozen farmers and half a dozen eminent pigs sitting around the long table. They were playing cards. Meanwhile, they circulated a large jug to refill their mugs with beers.
At this moment, Mr. Pilkington stood up with his mug in hand to say few words. He expressed satisfaction over the end of mistrust and misunderstanding. He lauded Animal Farm on using the most up-to-date methods, its discipline, and orderliness. Further, he said that in Animal Farm, the lower animals did more work and received less food than any animal in the country. Finally, he ended his speech with a witty remark, “If you have your lower animals to contend with, we have our lower classes!” This remark set the table in a roar.
Napolean was gratified and stood up to clink his mug against Mr. Pilkington’s. He also expressed few words. Firstly, he expressed pleasure that misunderstandings regarding Animal Farm have come to an end. Further, he suggested certain changes to the farm. Animals won’t call each other ‘Comrade’. The routine of marching past a boar’s skull every Sunday has to be suppressed. The white hoof and horn from the green flag had been removed and it would be a plain green flag. Finally, the name Animal Farm was to be restored to ‘The Manor Farm’ which was its original name.
After watching and hearing all this, the animals crept away silently.
Theme and Message in Animal Farm
The story covertly points to the French Revolution of 1917 – highlighting the flaws in the prevailing capitalism or capitalist world order, and defects in communism. In short, the state of equality is hard or nearly impossible to achieve. Further, Orwell stressed the point that power has a tendency to corrupt an individual even with high ideals and aspirations. Moreover, what political tactics and power games are used in order to achieve power is also visible in the story.