by George Orwell
Animal Farm Summary
How It All Goes Down
Animal Farm begins with a very drunk Mr. Jones (owner of Manor Farm) doing a really crummy job of, you know, his job. Luckily, there's a wise pig on the farm: Old Major. Old Major encourages the neglected animals to rebel and run the farm themselves with one important qualification: everyone should be equal.
Then he dies.
This seems like a grand idea to everyone except Benjamin, a cynical donkey whose main job in life is to be, well, cynical. So, they rebel. The pigs, being the smartest animals, naturally take the leadership role. So much for that equality business. So much for Old Major's vision of a peaceful coup, too, because there's immediate conflict between two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon wants to sit around and be in charge of everything, while Snowball wants to teach the other animals and build a windmill. Obviously, Snowball's plan is way better, so he wins.
Not. Instead, Napoleon uses his private army of nine ferocious and enormous dogs to become the All Powerful Dominant Boss Leader Chief Pig. Okay, he doesn't call it that, but you know it's in the back of his mind somewhere.
With Snowball is out of the picture, the other pigs blame everything on him. They exploit the other animals shamelessly, breaking all the rules about equality that they had established after the Rebellion. Life on the farm gets worse and worse, the animals forget old Major's original dream, and the pigs make some poor management decisions when dealing with the neighboring farms. The culminating miserable moment comes when the pigs send Boxer, a hardworking and loyal horse who is ready for retirement, to his death. Ouch.
In short, the pigs are starting to look a lot like the horrible human owners that we started with at the beginning of this whole mess, walking on two legs and everything. In fact, they may even be worse.
Hm. It looks like grumpy old Eeyore—we mean, Benjamin—was right after all.