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Animal Farm Study Guide
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Animal Farm By George Orwell
Mr Jones, who owns Manor Farm, falls asleep drunk, and all of his animals meet at the request of Major, a pig. Major gives a speech on the tyranny of man over animals, and the animals join him in a rebellious song. Jones awakens and fires a gun out his window, thinking there is a fox in the yard -- which scares the animals, who disperse.
Major dies, and the animals begin to plot their rebellion. The pigs are in charge, because they're the smartest. Snowball and Napoleon are the most important pigs of the revolution, and they convey the philosophy of Animalism to the other animals.
When Jones neglects to feed the animals, preferring drunken sleep once again, the animals break into the shed in search of food. Jones and his men begin whipping the animals in an attempt to get the back into place, but the animals rise up and drive the men away, destroying all traces of Jones in the process. The animals repaint the farm's sign to read "Animal Farm", and as Snowball paints the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the wall, Napoleon makes off with the milk that the cows have given to their new leaders.
The animals cooperate to finish the harvest, despite not having hands, and they do it more efficiently than Jones and his men ever did. Boxer, a horse, is admired by all for his hard work. Snowball, while failing in various political projects, does manage to bring literacy to the farm. To help the animals understand Animalism better, Snowball simplifies the Seven Commandments into a single, almost unbearably simple slogan: "four legs good, two legs bad".
The rebellion starts to spread to other farms by way of messenger pigeons. Jones now resides in the local pub, where he complains of his troubles to other farmers, including his neighbors. Jones brings a group of men to try to reclaim his farm, but Snowball's brilliant tactics drive the men away, and the animals celebrate.
The pigs are caught eating food that is much better than the other animals', but excuse this saying that they need proper nutrition to lead the farm as well as they do.
Mollie, a cow, is bribed away from Animal Farm and to the farm of one of Jones' neighbors by a simple blue ribbon, sparking a bit of identity crisis on the part of the animals. The pigs begin a policy of making decisions among themselves, and then offering those decisions to the animals, who must vote to ratify them.
Snowball and Napoleon start to argue about a variety of topics, and decide to put some items to a public vote. Instead of allowing the vote, Napoleon has vicious dogs chase Snowball off of the farm, and declares that he has a number of new rules that he will implement. Surprisingly, he decides to build a windmill of Snowball's desire that he had argued against vigorously, claiming that it had been his idea all along.
The animals work harder than ever, and Napoleon announces that Animal Farm will begin trading with nearby farms, even hiring a human solicitor to act as his agent. Jones gives up and moves away.
The pigs start sleeping in the human beds inside the farmhouse, excusing themselves on the grounds that they need good sleep after the daily strain of running the farm.
As winter comes, a storm knocks down the windmill, and Napoleon blames it on Snowball, offering a dead-or-alive reward on him. Napoleon then uses his agent to tell the human world how self-sufficient Animal Farm is. At the same time, nine hens die as Napoleon withholds their rations on the grounds that they're not giving up their eggs to the Farm.
The animals are told that Snowball is secretly undoing their work, and that he has been in league with Jones from the start. Napoleon calls a meeting, and forces confessions from several animals that had previously questioned them, feeding them to the vicious dogs when they do confess.
The next year brings more work and even less food all around, despite the pigs accountants proving that food production is better than ever since Napoleon took over. Napoleon tries to sell a pile of timber to a human, who pays with counterfeit money -- so Napoleon orders the human killed. The man returns the next day with a small militia, and the humans attempt to re-take the farm. When they blow up the re-built windmill, however, the animals go berserk and drive the men from the farm. The animals begin to rebuild the windmill again.
Food continues to dwindle, but the pigs insist everything is better now than ever. Napoleon fathers 31 piglets by 4 different sows, and orders a schoolroom to be built to educate them. Animal Farm is declared a Republic, and Napoleon is 'elected' President.
Boxer, who is getting old, works hard on the new windmill, but finally collapses. The pigs sell him to a glue-maker, telling the other animals that he is in fact a veterinarian who has recently purchased a glue-makers' van and hasn't had time to repaint it.
Years pass, and Animal Farm changes. Jones dies of alcohol poisoning, animals that should have retired are not allowed to, and there is now a second windmill. All of the animals work extremely hard and eat very little, except for the pigs. One evening, the pigs emerge from the farmhouse walking on their hind legs, wearing human clothing, and carrying whips.
In the end, neighboring farmers come over to meet with the pigs, and they discuss events. They end up playing cards, and disputing over who is cheating when two Aces of Spades are discovered. The other animals, watching from outside, realize that they can no longer distinguish between the pigs and the people.