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Free Study Guide-Animal Farm by George Orwell-Free Online Booknotes
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Chapter 3

Summary

The third chapter begins with the efforts of the animals being rewarded at harvestime. Despite the unsuitability of the implements they use, they work hard and surmount every difficulty. Because of their superior knowledge, the pigs do not actually do the labor, but direct and supervise. Boxer works the hardest. He asks the cockerels to give him a 'wakeup-call' early each morning, and his answer to every problem is to work harder. The harvest turns out to be the largest that the farm has ever seen. There is no wastage and no stealing.

On Sundays, the animals do not work. After breakfast, which is an hour later than usual, there is the raising of the flag decorated by a hoof and horn and symbolizing the power of the animals. After the hoisting of the flag, the animals attend a meeting where they plan the work for the next week, debate, and resolve problems. They even vote on important issues, even though most of the animals do not understand what they are voting for. The two leaders, Napoleon and Snowball, do understand the issues and are very vocal in their debates; however, they never agree, foreshadowing their later struggle for power and control. The meeting always ends with the singing of 'Beasts of England.' In the afternoon, there is time for recreation.

The pigs have set aside the harness-room as their headquarters. Untiring Snowball keeps himself busy organizing various committees, such as the egg-production committee and the whiter wool movement; their purpose is to improve the farm and the animals' lives. Not surprisingly, Napoleon is disinterested in Snowball's committees and even tries to undermine them; but he agrees that education is important and supports Snowball's reading and writing classes. By autumn almost all the animals are literate to some extent. When the sheep, hens and ducks (the slower animals) are unable to learn the Seven Commandments, Snowball reduces them to a single maxim that states 'four legs good, two legs bad'. When the birds object, he states that wings should be regarded as legs. The birds quietly accept his explanation.

The mystery of the 'disappeared milk' is solved, for it has been seized by the pigs and mixed into their mush. Squealer justifies the action by stating that milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary for a pig's diet.

Notes

This Chapter shows the animals at harvest time, several months after the animals seized the farm in March. By working together, they are successful, and the harvest is plentiful and completed in less time than ever before. It also shows the animals' efforts at organizing themselves. The meetings and committees shown in this Chapter are reflective of the collective farms in the earlier stages of the Russian Revolution.


In a very human way, Snowball forms committees to improve the animals' lives, but Napoleon tries to undermine his efforts. Their power struggle has a semblance to the one between Trotsky and Stalin after the death of Lenin. The classes of reading and writing are more successful, and most of the animals become literate to some degree. They are also granted the privilege of voting, even though most of the animals do not understand what they are voting for. The pigs, aware of the ignorance of the other animals, begin to establish themselves as the ruling class and seize special privileges. They steal the milk and the apples for their own good and take over the harness house as their headquarters. Squealer tries to justify the actions of the pigs through propaganda. The over simplification of the Seven Commandments to 'Four legs good, two legs bad' betrays the tricks of the power-mongers who divert the attention of the gullible to achieve their own selfish ends. The sheep, who are slow by nature, particularly like the simplicity of the new slogan and repeat it often.

It is important to notice that this Chapter develops the rising action of the plot; but there is much foreshadowing of the later action in the novel. Orwell makes it clear that Napoleon is stronger than Snowball and will seek ultimate power on the farm. His rule will be tyrannical, and the animals will suffer under his control, much like they suffered under Jones.

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