Animal Farm Chapters 1-3 Summary

     Animal Farm is an allegorical, dystopian, and satirical novella written by George Orwell and published in 1945. The literal story features a group of animals on a farm that rise up in rebellion against their human master, Mr. Jones, only to find themselves continuing to have issues with power struggles and abuses of power.

     In the opening chapter, we are introduced to Manor Farm, where the drunken farmer Mr. Jones has shut the animals in for the night. Once he is safely in bed, the animals all spring to life to meet in the main farm building, where Old Major, a large old boar, has asked them to gather to hear about a strange dream he had the previous night. When all of the animals have assembled, Old Major tells them he doesn't expect to be alive much longer, and he wishes to pass on his wisdom before he dies. Old Major goes on to describe how all of the animals in England live miserable lives, enslaved by humans and forced to work for no reward until they are eventually slaughtered, but that the animals continue this way because humans are in control of the goods produced by the their labour. He suggests that rebellion against humans, whenever the opportunity should arise, is the only way for the animals to be free from being abused and controlled. Old Major says that even when humans are conquered, no animal should act like a human by sleeping in a bed, wearing clothes, drinking alcohol, or using money to engage in trade. At the end of his speech, Old Major suggests a vote as to whether wild creatures, such as rats and rabbits, are considered comrades. The majority vote that rats are indeed comrades, and Old Major describes his strange dream of the earth when humans have vanished, and sings a song called "Beasts Of England". All of the animals joyfully take up the song, making so much noise they waken Mr. Jones who shoots his gun into the night, which sends all of the animals fearfully back to sleep.

     Chapter two opens with the news that Old Major dies in his sleep three nights after his rousing speech. The rest of the animals do what they can to prepare for the rebellion, with the pigs assuming roles as leaders, particularly Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer, who develop old Major's teachings into a system of thought called Animalism.

     Meanwhile, Mr. Jones has fallen on hard times, and spends most of the day drinking while his men do a poor job of the farm work. One day they neglect to feed the animals, prompting the cows to break into the store shed, where all of the animals then gather to eat. When Mr. Jones and his men come to whip the animals into submission, they fight back, chasing all of the humans out of the farm and barring the gate behind them.

     Suddenly liberated, the animals go about destroying symbols of their oppression, but decide that the farmhouse itself will remain untouched as a museum, and that no animal shall live in it. Snowball and Napoleon organize the rest of the animals, and since they have been learning to read and write over the past few months, they re-paint the Manor Farm sign to read 'Animal Farm', and paint their seven commandments of Animalism on the wall. To make the commandments more simply remembered, Snowball teaches the animals the phrase "four legs good, two legs bad". Before the animals get to work harvesting, the cows are milked. While most of the animals express interest in the milk, Napoleon tells them it will be dealt with later, and after the harvest, the milk has disappeared.

     Chapter three describes how the animals all work to perform different tasks in the harvest, and together they do a far better job than the humans ever have. Assuming the role of leaders, the pigs do not actually work, but direct and supervise the others. Most of the animals work happily throughout the day, although Mollie the horse often leaves work early, the cat disappears when there is work to be done, and Benjamin the donkey continues on as before, doing his work but never volunteering for extra. The animals have a weekly meeting in which the pigs put forth resolutions to be voted on, during which Snowball and Napoleon always disagree with each other. Snowball spends time organizing the other animals into committees, while Napoleon feels the education of the young is most important, and personally oversees the raising of puppies that are born after the rebellion.

     In the fall, it is discovered by the animals that the missing milk along with extra fallen apples are being given only to the pigs. Squealer explains this by saying it is scientifically proven that milk and apples are necessary for the well-being of pigs, who are the brain-workers, and that if the pigs fail in their duty, Jones will come back to rule the farm. All agreeing that they don't want Jones back, the rest of the animals consent to the milk and apples will be reserved for the pigs alone.

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