Table of Contents
Animal Farm Chapter 1 Summary
Animal Farm Chapter 1: As the story begins, the animals on Manor Farm are getting ready to meet up after being told earlier in the day that old Major, an elderly boar at 12 years old, wanted to speak to everyone about a dream that he had. Once they gather, he starts talking about how miserable their lives are and how getting rid of Man, specifically Mr. and Mrs. Jones, would solve all of their problems, most notably how short their lives are.
After he finishes talking about how all animals should be treated equally and how all humans should be viewed as being the same as each other – an us-versus-them mentality – Major sidesteps telling them any details about his dream, simply saying that it was a vision of earth without Man, and then brings up a song that he had learned as a little pig. Once he starts singing, “Beasts of England,” all of the animals get excited and sing along. The song includes lines such as “Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown.” However, they sing it so loud and so passionately that it wakes up Mr. Jones, who had been in a drunken stupor, and he, believing a fox was loose, shoots his gun into the air, the animals scramble, and the meeting suddenly ends.
Animal Farm Chapter 1
The novella opens with Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, drunkenly closing down the farm but doing a sloppy job of it. This allowed the animals to much more easily gather so that they could listen to old Major, a respected 12-year-old boar, describe a dream that he had experienced the previous evening. Once they gather in the barn to listen to him, old Major starts talking about how he wants to pass on his wisdom before he dies, which he expects will come within the next few months.
Old Major then goes on to speak about how unfair their living environment is. The animals do all of this work while Man doesn’t produce anything. Animals are usually put to death early and don’t get to enjoy any sort of retirement. Their lives are full of misery and slavery, not happiness and leisure. They are only fed enough food to stay alive while Man’s access to food is not limited.
He then describes a utopian future that will exist once Man is removed. Food and land would be available to the animals at a luxurious level. But, he warns, once Man is conquered, it is essential to not adopt any of his bad habits, such as using alcohol, tobacco, clothes, beds or money.
While doing so, Old Major makes sure to not only describe all of Man as equal in their evilness but also that all animals are equal with each other. One of his examples is that if it has two legs, it’s an enemy, but if it has four legs or wings, it’s a friend. This is judged to include rats after the dogs interrupt the meeting by attacking them and a brief debate on the matter follows. And these views are to continue once Man is overcome, he adds. All animals should be viewed as equal now and in the future. He also says that Man cannot be trusted and to never listen if the animals are told that both Man and them have any sort of common interest. “It is all lies.” Additionally, in order to overcome Man, all of the animals need to have “perfect unity, perfect comradeship.”
After he briefly describes his dream – an image of the planet without Man – old Major shares with the others a song that he used to sing with his siblings and mother and that he believes has been sung for generations. After he starts singing, “Beasts of England,” the other animals join in as best as they can, some the entire song, others a few words here and there. Before long, it is being sung in unison and with such passion and so loudly that Mr. Jones is woken up. Believing that a fox is loose in the yard, he quickly grabs his gun and shoots it, causing the singing to abruptly stop and the animals to scurry back to where they would sleep that evening.
Much of what old Major is doing is creating fear and using that to get the animals riled up. One example is when he tells the young porkers, “Every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within a year.”
He also simplifies the world, saying that all of humankind is evil and all animals are good. He also admonishes them to not listen to any arguments from people as they will always lie, but all animals are to be respected and treated equally. But perhaps the biggest example of simplification comes when old Major says that once humans are removed from the planet, all of the animals’ issues and problems will go away.
Old Major was also setting the stage for corruption by saying that only “perfect unity, perfect comradeship” would allow this utopian image to become reality. Of course, perfect unity and perfect comradeship means that nobody should ever question anything. This also causes individuals to experience a loss of individuality.
Much of old Major’s speech can be compared to political speeches used in our world and how they can be written and delivered in a strategic way that pushes and pulls the audience where the speaker wants them pushed and pulled. He unites them, and he gives them a common goal to get behind, a goal that includes a utopian image that would be difficult for anybody to oppose.
This first chapter is also written in a style that shows the animals as being more composed and reserved and the humans – both Mr. Jones and a snoring Mrs. Jones – as being more animal-like, focused on themselves, gluttonous and quick to violence to solve issues as noted at the end of the chapter when Mr. Jones’ first reaction to the commotion was to shoot his gun.
Next: Animal Farm Chapter 2
Animal Farm Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
Boar, dogs, pigs, hens, pigeons, sheep, cows, horses, goat, donkey, ducks and a cat. A raven was the only one to not attend and instead slept behind the back door.
No. She appeared to be awake, purring contentedly, but did not listen to it. However, she did vote – for both sides – when the group was asked whether rats should be considered as comrades as well.
Get rid of them.
Benjamin, the donkey. Although his age is never revealed, he is more than 12 years old since that is the age of old Major.
He rarely spoke, was cynical when he did and never laughed.
Boxer. The two generally did not speak with each other, however.
She protected them with her foreleg, providing them with a place to safely sleep.
Earth with no humans.
“Beasts of England.”
“Clementine” and “La Cucuracha.”
Get his gun and shoot it.
The wall of the barn.
Adopt humans’ vices such as using money, tobacco, alcohol, clothes, beds or houses.
He is incredibly strong and has a strong work ethic and steady character but poor intelligence.
He was drunk.