The book starts in the barnyard of Mr. Jones’ “Manor Farm”. The animals gather at a meeting led by the white boar, Major. Major shows them that no animal in England is free. He also explains that the stuff that they produce is taken by man and the animals do not benefit. The only thing that man gives is food to survive so more money can be made off of the animals. Majors lets them know that man is the source of all problems and should be eliminated. He proposes that all of the animals should avoid man’s habits. Above all Major says to the animals that they cannot kill one another, that they are all equal.A few days later Major dies, but his message remains in the hearts and minds of the animals. Under the leadership of the pigs, who are clearly the more intelligent of the animals, they strike against their human master and manage to get rid of him. After the rebellion, under the direction of Napoleon, the most outspoken pig, and Snowball, the most articulate pig, the animals continue to work the farm with success.
The animals now come up with a set of rules to run their society. They are labeled “the Seven Commandments of Animalism” and are posted on the barn wall.
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
The animals succeed at running the farm for a little while. They finish all of their work with stunning efficiency and every week hold ceremonies to celebrate the rebellion and to plan work. Meanwhile, the pigs as leaders are taking bigger food rations for themselves justifying their behavior as something necessary for the “brains” of their animal society. They explain that it is necessary or else the farmers might come back and take over the farm.
The farmers do try to reclaim their tries to reclaim his power but the animals prevent him from doing so in what they call “The Battle of the Cowshed”. The conflict between Napoleon and Snowball gets more intense. At every meeting they can never agree on what needs to be done. Napoleon and Snowball fight over whether or not a windmill should be built. Snowball has proposed this idea and Napoleon is, of course, against it. After the battle, Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm telling everyone that Snowball was on Mr. Jones’ side. Napoleon is seen as a great leader by the animals because he had the wisdom to remove the traitor. Slowly, Napoleon gets a stronger and stronger hold over the other animals, dominating their every action.
The situation at “Animal Farm”, the new name for “Manor Farm”, really starts to change now. Napoleon moves into Mr. Jones’ house, sleeps in his bed, and even wears his clothes. These things were, of course, against the seven commandments but Napoleon found a way to interpret them as legal. In defiance of the original laws, Napoleon befriends Mr. Pilkington, the human owner of a nearby farm. Napoleon maintained an unbelievable amount of control over the animals as demonstrated by their acceptance of this relation to a man.
In fact, almost every commandment is violated and then changed. After winning a battle against Mr. Frederick and his men the pigs have a drinking party and change the commandment to ” thou shall not drink to excess.” The pigs are using all of the resources and giving none to the other animals. The other animals are struggling to build the schoolhouse and the windmill while the pigs wear clothes, eat and drink.
While working ferociously, Boxer collapses and Napoleon announces that he will be taken to the hospital. But when the truck arrives the animals realize that he is going to a horse slaughter house. But it’s too late.
A few years go by and the difference between man and pig is not noticeable to the other animals.
The book ends with the pigs walking around on to legs in clothes and conversing with men. The only thing left out of the Seven Commandments is ” All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others”