Animal Farm Summary
Orwell's plot is relatively simple, not so much that it deals with animals and their uncivilized characteristics but because it so closely parallels the rise of the Russian Revolution and its key players. Until and including the third chapter of Animal Farm, Orwell's work is difficult to understand in light of the Soviet regime under Lenin because it represents a rather peaceful, equitable and even abundant period.
The true colors of the figures of Trotsky and Stalin, as the characters Snowball and Napoleon respectively, eventually emerge and the propagandizing of the Soviet ideology was clearly paralleled at the start of chapter four:
By the late summer the news of what had happened on Animal Farm had spread across half the county. Every day Snowball and Napoleon sent out flights of pigeons whose instructions were to mingle with the animals on neighboring farms, tell them the story of the Rebellion, and teach them the tune of Beasts of England.
There is also a satirical parallel in the way that Napoleon treats Snowball with disdain for his plans of supporting the animal's revolutionary enterprise and the way that Stalin discredited Trotsky's plan to boost agricultural productivity to support a new government:
He [Napoleon] walked heavily round the shed, looked closely at every detail of the plans and snuffed at them once or twice, then stood for a little while contemplating them out of the corner of his eye; then suddenly he lifted his leg, urinated over the plans, and walked out without uttering a word (Chap. 5 par. 10).
Stalin's ultimately murderous behavior is paralleled in Napoleon's move to similarly eliminate any and all of his enemies, starting with those that still felt led by the words of the exiled Snowball [Trotsky]. On Napoleon's orders, his dogs slay many of the animals:
And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon's feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood (Chap 7, par. 26).
The ultimate betrayal of the animals is a parallel of the similar betrayal of the Russian people during the Revolution in the following ways:
- The Battle of the Windmill
- According to Brunsdale represents the German invasion of 1941
- Although a victory, ultimately only worked to serve the needs of the elite and succinctly explains the meaning of Napoleon's motto:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS (Chap. 10, par. 19).
Although an examination of every satirical aspect of Orwell's work is beyond the scope of this paper, there is sufficient comparison to the origins and events of Russian communism and revolution to understand the context and purpose of Orwell's characters, their behaviors and motives. It is fair to suggest that without the book's veiled but inherently anticommunist bent, it may not have been as popularly received or worse, may have been errantly construed as a typical example of the barnyard genre.
It is important to note that Orwell does not demonstrate in the novel's plot that he anticipated an end to the Cold War or the collapse of the Russian Communist government. because one would expect that he would have clearly revealed his opinion. While the perpetual destruction of the windmill plan may have foreshadowed the ultimate failure of Russian communism, Orwell would have more likely exhibited his traditionally bold artistic license by more clearly demonstrating its demise at the novel's conclusion.