Study Guide

Animal Farm Rules and Order

By George Orwell

Rules and Order

Chapter 2

The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones's children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap. Napoleon sent for pots of black and white paint and led the way down to the five-barred gate that gave on to the main road. Then Snowball (for it was Snowball who was best at writing) took a brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out MANOR FARM from the top bar of the gate and in its place painted ANIMAL FARM. This was to be the name of the farm from now onwards. After this they went back to the farm buildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments. These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after. With some difficulty (for it is not easy for a pig to balance himself on a ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs below him holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus: (2.21)

So far, this seems fairly solid. The pigs learn to read; good work. They study Animalism; fair enough. And they come up with rules; we like rules. Maybe this is going to work out, after all! (Um, okay, we're a little troubled by the whole secrecy part of it, but… fingers crossed?)

THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal. (2.22)

We can't get behind these rules 100%, but they seem fairly solid, considering the animals' experience with humans. After having Mr. Jones as a master, we'd feel pretty leery of humans, too.

Chapter 3

On Sundays there was no work. Breakfast was an hour later than usual, and after breakfast there was a ceremony which was observed every week without fail. First came the hoisting of the flag. Snowball had found in the harness-room an old green tablecloth of Mrs. Jones's and had painted on it a hoof and a horn in white. This was run up the flagstaff in the farmhouse garden every Sunday morning...After the hoisting of the flag all the animals trooped into the big barn for a general assembly which was known as the Meeting. Here the work of the coming week was planned out and resolutions were put forward and debated. (3.5)

Oh, fun! We love ceremonies. The pigs get one thing right: people like having regular rituals to bind them together, whether we're talking religious celebrations, club meetings, baseball games, or pep rallies. (Okay, fine, we just like getting out of class early for that last one.)

Chapter 6
Clover (a horse)

Boxer passed it off as usual with "Napoleon is always right!", but Clover, who thought she remembered a definite ruling against beds, went to the end of the barn and tried to puzzle out the Seven Commandments which were inscribed there. Finding herself unable to read more than individual letters, she fetched Muriel […]

"Muriel," she said, "read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?" […]

With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out... "It says, 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets,"' she announced finally. (6.10-6.13)

Luckily, we're much better at reading that Muriel, so we can flip back to the beginning of the book (Chapter 2, if you're wondering) and double check. And there it is—#4, "No animal shall sleep in a bed." Hm. Looks like the rules are changing on us.

Chapter 7
Squealer (a pig)

They had just finished singing it for the third time when Squealer, attended by two dogs, approached them with the air of having something important to say. He announced that, by a special decree of Comrade Napoleon, "Beasts of England" had been abolished. From now onwards it was forbidden to sing it. (7.32)

Frankly, keeping up with the pigs' rules is harder than remembering what we're supposed to eat. (Eggs—no. Wait, yes! Eat a Mediterranean diet—no, eat a Japanese diet! Red meat will kill you; wait, nope, it actually will only kill you if you have a certain gene. Yeesh.)

Chapter 8
Benjamin (a donkey)

A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered– or thought they remembered– that the Sixth Commandment decreed "No animal shall kill any other animal." And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this. Clover asked Benjamin to read her the Sixth Commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: "No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE." (8.1)

We could let the "sleep in a bed with sheets" revision slide, but this one? This one seems a bit less harmless. In fact, it seems downright harmful. Pretty soon, the commandments are going to be as complicated as… well, the U.S. Constitution.

Chapter 9

For the time being, the young pigs were given their instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen. They took their exercise in the garden, and were discouraged from playing with the other young animals. About this time, too, it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays. (9.4)

Animal Farm is looking a lot less like Marx's vision of a classless society (see "Old Major" for more on that) and a lot more like, well, a new version of the old Russian aristocracy, complete with rules about status and rank.

Chapter 10
Napoleon (a pig)

He had only one criticism, he said, to make of Mr. Pilkington's excellent and neighbourly speech. Mr. Pilkington had referred throughout to "Animal Farm." He could not of course know-for he, Napoleon, was only now for the first time announcing it-that the name "Animal Farm" had been abolished. Henceforward the farm was to be known as "The Manor Farm" – which, he believed, was its correct and original name. (10.31)

You know what? We give up trying to keep track of Napoleon's rules, and we're just going to curl up on the couch with some Cherry Garcia and Real Housewives of Kennebunkport. Unless Napoleon's going to take away our ice cream, too.

He did not believe, he said, that any of the old suspicions still lingered, but certain changes had been made recently in the routine of the farm which should have the effect of promoting confidence stiff further. Hitherto the animals on the farm had had a rather foolish custom of addressing one another as "Comrade." This was to be suppressed. There had also been a very strange custom, whose origin was unknown, of marching every Sunday morning past a boar's skull which was nailed to a post in the garden. This, too, would be suppressed, and the skull had already been buried. His visitors might have observed, too, the green flag which flew from the masthead. If so, they would perhaps have noted that the white hoof and horn with which it had previously been marked had now been removed. It would be a plain green flag from now onwards. (10.30)

Napoleon is backpedaling so fast that we're feeling a draft. Here, he tells the neighboring humans that he's dismantling every Animal Farm tradition: no more comrade, no more veneration of Old Major, and no more sickle-and-hammer—we mean, hoof-and-horn.

It was a pig walking on his hind legs. (10.10)

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wasn't this, like, rule number 1? Let's flip back through some pages: yep. It was literally rule #1. What's happened to the Seven Commandments?

Clover (a horse)

"My sight is failing," she said finally. "Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?"

For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS (10.17, 10.18, 10.19)

Quick answer: no, they are not. First the rule about beds is changed and then the rule about not killing animals and now, finally, the seven commandments themselves are gone, leaving just one commandment. But it's no Golden Rule—more like a brass rule. A tarnished brass rule.