Animal Farm begins with a very drunk Mr. Jones (owner of Manor Farm) doing a really crumby job of, you know, his job. The neglected animals listen to a wise old pig, old Major, who encourages them all to rebel and run the farm themselves. Above all, he says, everyone should be equal. Then he dies. Everyone is excited except for Benjamin, a cynical donkey whose main job inlife is to be, well, cynical.
The animals do rebel, and the pigs, being the smartest animals, naturally take the leadership role (so much for that equality business). There is some immediate conflict between two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon wants to sit around and be in charge of everything, while Snowball wants to teach the other animals (Imagine!) and build a windmill. Napoleon usesnine ferocious and enormous dogs (which he stole when they were young) to become the All Powerful Dominant Boss Leader Chief Pig. He doesn’t call it that, but it’s in the back of his mind somewhere. So Snowball is out of the picture, which is convenient for blaming everything on him.
The pigs exploit the other animals shamelessly, breaking all the rules that they had established after theRebellion. Things fall apart: life on the farm gets worse and worse, the animals forget old Major’s original dream, and the pigs make some poor management decisions when dealing with the neighboring farms. The culminating miserable moment comes when the pigs send Boxer, a hardworking and loyal horse who is ready for retirement, to his death. Ouch.
In short, the pigs are starting to look a lot like thehorrible human owners that we started with at the beginning of this whole mess. They may even be worse. So old cynical Benjamin was right.
Animal Farm Chapter 1 Summary
• Mr. Jones is drunk. Again. He owns Manor Farm, by the way. Also, the animals talk. Work with it.
• "Old Major" is a sort of revered, older, wiser boar-pig-dude on the farm. He has a dream, and the others,acknowledging his age, wisdom, and all around general superiority, gather around (campfire-style) to listen.
• The cast of characters is introduced. You’ve got Jessie, Bluebell, and Pincher (three dogs), Boxer and Clover (horses, male and female respectively), Muriel (a goat), Benjamin (an old and cynical donkey, good friends with Boxer), Mollie (a silly mare), Moses (a raven), chickens, hens, ducks,two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.
• Old Major suggests that they have an uprising against the lazy, resource-sucking humans and run the farm themselves. He introduces some rules for the animals regarding loyalty, alcohol, money, trade, and specifies that no animal may kill any other animal. Keep an eye on those rules – they tend to change as the story goes on.
• They allsing "Beasts of England," a lovely tune eliciting warm and fuzzy feelings of togetherness.
Animal Farm Chapter 2 Summary
• Old Major dies, which would have been all jarring and climax-esque if he hadn’t predicted it before he gave his speech.
• We are told that the pigs, particularly Snowball and Napoleon, are more intelligent than everyone else. They’re pigs…they need to getsomething in the way of attributes. Oh, and there’s also Squealer, who is sort of like a used car salesman. The pigs start running the show.
• The animals found "Animalism," a system of thought summarizing Old Major’s teachings. No points for creativity.
• Moses, the crow, speaks of a paradise-like place called Sugarcandy Mountain, much to everyone’s annoyance.
• Turns out Boxer andClover are stupid, but trusting and hard working.
• Mr. Jones gets drunk. Again. After he neglects the animals, they choose the opportune moment of being a) underfed and b) really pissed off as the time to uprise. They do. Uprise that is. Successfully.
• They make more rules: no clothes (including ribbons...brutal) and no sleeping in the house. They also rename Manor Farm, calling it...