Animal Farm Summary and Analysis
The harvest is more of a success than Mr. Jones and his men ever accomplished, despite the fact that the tools are not well suited for animals to use, especially without the animals rearing up on their hind legs. The pigs supervise the others but do not participate in the manual labor. With the “parasitical human beings” out of the way, the animals enjoy a feeling of abundance for the first time. They have more leisure, and their food tastes all the better for their having gathered and portioned it out themselves.
On Animal Farm, everyone works “according to his capacity.” Boxer is invigorated and pushes himself to work harder than ever; because he is strong and big, he contributes to the most strenuous labor. In contrast, the hens and ducks work at gathering small bits of corn that the bigger animals would not be able to gather. The system of Animalism is working well: every animal is satisfied with his share of the labor and its fruits. No one steals or argues, and very few shirk their responsibilities, with the exception of the cat and frivolous Mollie.
Every Sunday is a day of rest and devotion to Animalism on Animal Farm. The animals hold an hour-long ceremony at which they raise their new flag. The flag is green to represent England’s pastures and features a hoof and horn that “represent the future Republic of the Animals” that will exist “when the human race [has] finally been overthrown” (48). A gathering called Meeting follows the flag raising, in which the animals plan the coming week and the pigs present resolutions for debate (none of the other animals are intelligent enough to think up resolutions). Snowball and Napoleon tend to debate the most and take opposite sides. The animals end each meeting by singing “Beasts of England.”
The pigs set up a study center for themselves in the harness-room, where they study trades using Mr. Jones’s books. Snowball begins organizing the animals into Animal Committees, including the Egg Production Committee, the Clean Tails League, the Wild Comrades’ Re-education Committee (to tame rats and rabbits), and the Whiter Wool Movement. These committees generally fail to produce results or remain cohesive. Snowball does succeed in teaching some of the animals to read, although most of them lack the intelligence needed for literacy. In fact, many of the animals lack the intelligence needed to memorize the Seven Commandments, so Snowball reduces Animalism’s tenets to one simple saying: “Four legs good, two legs bad” (50).
As time goes by, the pigs begin to increase their control over the other animals. For example, when Jessie and Bluebell give birth to puppies, Napoleon takes them to an isolated loft where he can teach them. Napoleon believes that educating young, impressionable animals is more important than trying to re-educate older ones. It turns out that the pigs are mixing the cows’ milk with their food. When the wind knocks ripe apples out of the orchard trees, the pigs claim the right to take them all, as well as the bulk of the coming apple harvest. The pigs claim that they need milk and apples in order to power their “brainwork.” Squealer says that, were the pigs to stop eating milk and apples, they could lose their powers of organization and Mr. Jones could come back. The threat of Mr. Jones’s return is enough to quell the other animals’ doubts and questions.
At first, the animals seem to be living in the utopia Major had imagined for them. Now that they have their own ideology and own the means of production, they feel “rich and free,” just as Major predicted. They enjoy a temporary calm as well as a sense of invigoration after years of discontent, now assume Man’s position of control over themselves and nature. In doing organizational work, the pigs are working in accordance with their capacity. But at the same time, the pigs are fairly large and strong animals that could surely contribute to the farm’s manual labor force. They are slowly assuming Man’s competitive advantage and becoming “the only creature that consumes without producing.”
From the very beginning of the Animal Farm era, Boxer assumes the majority of the burden of labor. Now that he is working for the animals’ benefit and not Jones’s, he feels enlivened and adopts the first of his two personal maxims, “I will work harder.” In his heartiness, usefulness, and relative dullness, Boxer represents the faithful peasant. Some critics have pointed out the similarity of this motto to that of the main character in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Indeed, Orwell was certainly familiar with Sinclair’s writings. While Sinclair’s novel criticized capitalism, Orwell’s focuses on Communism. Either way, the point expands the reader’s consciousness to see how elitism can result in willing subjugation in very different regimes. Boxer is not pugnacious despite his name, but he is as strong as his name implies. In this way, Boxer is painfully ironic. He is strong enough to kill another animal, even a human, with a single blow from his hoof, and the dogs will not be able to overpower him in Chapter VII. Still, Boxer lacks the intelligence and the nerve to sense that he is being misled and mistreated. He knows how to use his brawn only in submission to his leaders and not against them.
Chapter III marks the beginning of the dispute between Snowball and Napoleon, which evokes the power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin. After Trotsky’s fashion, Snowball is a progressive, eloquent, and public politician. He not only creates countless plans for reform, but he also dominates the Sunday meetings with his skillful and rabble-rousing orations. Snowball has the capacity to inspire the animals just as Major did in his big meeting. After Stalin’s fashion, Napoleon conducts his politics clandestinely. His public statements are generally limited to rebuttals of Snowball’s ideas; he keeps his own plans to himself. For example, Napoleon secrets the puppies away to a loft and, by keeping out of the public eye, manages to rear them into fierce, blood-hungry, creatures submissive to him. Napoleon’s collaboration with and control of the dogs evokes Stalin’s focus on quietly gaining support from powerful allies.
Chapter III also introduces the idea of propaganda. “Stirring” as it may be, “Beasts of England” is more of a revolutionary anthem than a piece of propaganda. It is meant to unite the animals in the cause of the Rebellion and help them to envision the utopia for which they must strive. But most of the animals are not intelligent enough to let the song do more than vaguely inspire their hopes. Without even being able to remember the Seven Commandments, most of the animals rely merely on the propagandist refrain, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Snowball reduces the Seven Commandments into this single maxim, vastly oversimplifying the full system of Animalism into a catchphrase. As the animals adopt the phrase, they begin to forget the Seven Commandments, which gives the pigs the opportunity to change them. In fact, the pigs manage to break every one of the other commandments without arousing much suspicion. Clover and Muriel, who periodically think about the Seven Commandments, are easily duped in this regard. Having memorized the simple maxim in their place, they are easily convinced that their doubts about the original content of the commandments are unfounded.
Squealer, who represents the propaganda machine, introduces fear tactics in this chapter. After convincing the animals that the pigs have a right to milk and apples, he threatens the animals with Jones’s return for the first time. The pigs have created an environment where their rules must be followed out of fear of the return of the old older. It is an easy, winning response to animals that see only the two alternatives and cannot see a way back to the utopian principles that inspired their rebellion.
Animal Farm Essays and Related Content
- Animal Farm: Major Themes
- Animal Farm: Essays
- Animal Farm: Lesson Plan
- Animal Farm: Questions
- Animal Farm: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- George Orwell: Biography
- Animal Farm Summary
- About Animal Farm
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter I
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter II
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter III
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter IV
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter V
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter VI
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter VII
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter VIII
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter IX
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter X
- A Brief History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1944
- Related Links on Animal Farm
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 5
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