Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, has not been a very responsible farmer. Of late, he has taken to drinking and tends to neglect his farming chores. His careless attitude makes Old Major, the Berkshire boar, incite the animals to rise up against Jones. The boar calls for a meeting to explain his dream for the farm animals. Although Old Major does not narrate the dream, he does explain the ill treatment given to them by man and the dreary and deplorable life they are leading on the farm. He also inspires the animals with his song 'Beasts of England.'
The inspired animals seize their very first opportunity to oust Mr. Jones and rename the farm as "Animal Farm". They inscribe their laws, seven commandments, on the barn-wall. Napoleon and Snowball vie with each other for leadership. Although the two boars do not see eye to eye, they come together to banish their common enemy, Jones and his men, in The Battle of Cowshed.
After the battle, the rivalry between the two contenders comes out in the open. Snowball's plan of building the windmill is declared as 'nonsense' by Napoleon. He also chases Snowball off of the farm with the help of his fire dogs. He then puts forth the windmill project as his own.
The pigs from the ruling class are non-productive and live off the labor of the other animals. They change the commandments to suit their own desires. Squealer, Napoleon's henchman, tells the other animals that the rules must be changed to prevent Jones from returning to control the farm. They are terrorized into confessing whatever the authorities want and say that they have been scheming with Snowball as his agents. Napoleon's reign of terror is severe and takes a toll of several animals. He snatches every chance to further his own personality. He even negotiates 'trade' with his human neighbors after setting them against each other.
Frederick, a neighboring farmer, launches an attack, called the Battle of Windmill, against the animals. During the fighting, the Windmill is blown off. Reconstruction of the Windmill brings about prosperity, but not for all the animals; the pigs are the only beneficiaries. Ironically, the pigs now resemble the humans that they hated. They carry whips and walk upright on their hind legs. The only rule that now exists is, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The novel ends with Napoleon entertaining his human neighbors, and it is impossible to distinguish the pigs from the men.