The animals are oppressed by a drunken, tyrannical master. This is the first situation we come across, so we're thinking it's the initial one. It's also fairly static, and we get the sense things have been this way for a long time. Sounds like we need something new and exciting to set the story in motion.
Look at that: something new and exciting happens. Old Major convinces the animals they should rebel based on—we're not kidding—a dream he has. (And not in the "I have a dream" kind of way—in the actual, "You guys, I had the weirdest dream" way.)
An impending rebellion sounds a lot like a conflict. For that matter, so does the rebellion itself, what with the fighting and violence and all.
It's Good to Be the King Pig
The Rebellion is sorted, so now it's an animal paradise, right? Wrong. Turns out, these new leaders? Not so great. That whole equality business? Not really happening.
Things are getting complicated.
With all those bloody (literally bloody, not a slang British adjective) creatures and exclamation points running around, we're feeling the climax full force: the humans attack Animal Farm, blowing up their newly restored windmill. Things are looking pretty grim for our intrepid heroes.
To the Glue Factory
Just how far will Napoleon and his crew go? Really far. After workhorse Boxer starts fading out, the suspense is so high that even stoic Benjamin freaks out. We were biting our fingernails all the way through the chasing of the truck down the road scene. (Which made it difficult to turn the pages.)
In the end, Boxer is sent to the glue factory, and we're pretty sure that we know where this is all headed.
The New Normal
Our heart rate slows considerably after the glue factory incident, which tells us that we've hit the denouement stage. There are no exclamation points here, literal or figurative. We just chill out and watch the situation worsen steadily.
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
When the pigs play poker with the humans, a nice little bow of closure gets wrapped up around the package of greed, manipulation, and corrupt power that is Animal Farm. Excuse us—we mean Manor Farm.
Rinse, wash, and repeat.