Old Major dies three nights after the meeting that united the animals. Over the next three months, the more intelligent animals begin to approach life differently. They now anticipate the Rebellion, for which they assume the task of preparing. The pigs take on the task of organizing and teaching the other animals because they are “generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals” (35).
Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer have taken charge especially, and they have expanded Old Major’s concept into a “complete system of thought” called Animalism. They hold frequent meetings in the big barn to espouse the views of Animalism to the other farm animals. At first, the animals are not convinced that they should follow Animalism. Some feel loyalty to Mr. Jones, some worry that they cannot be self-sufficient, and others, such as Mollie, worry about losing treats such as sugar and ribbons. Snowball contradicts Mollie, saying that the ribbons are “the badge of slavery” and that “liberty is worth more than ribbons” (37).
Moses causes trouble for the pigs by inventing an animal heaven called Sugarcandy Mountain., a utopia for another time. In contrast, Clover and Boxer are some of the pigs’ strongest collaborators. Not being very intelligent themselves, Clover and Boxer memorize simple pro-Animalism arguments that they pass on to the others.
Monetary troubles plague Mr. Jones, leading him to drink excessively. The farmhands are lazy and fail to tend the farm well, yet hard times for Mr. Jones mean a leg up for the animals. In fact, Mr. Jones’s misfortune makes the Rebellion come earlier than expected. On Midsummer’s Eve in June, Mr. Jones gets so drunk that he passes out and neglects to feed the animals. Having gone unfed for hours, the animals break into the store-shed and eat. Mr. Jones and the farmhands rush in and begin whipping the animals indiscriminately, and the animals respond by attacking them in unison. The men are frightened and forced to flee the farm.
After a disbelieving calm, the animals barge into the harness-room and drown or burn all the implements of their former bondage. Snowball makes sure to burn the ribbons, which he calls tantamount to clothing, and states, “All animals should go naked” (40). The animals then help themselves to double servings of food and sleep better than they ever have. When they awake the next morning, they survey the farm with new eyes, absorbing the fact that it is now their own. Finally, they tour the farmhouse, seeing in disbelief the “unbelievable luxury” in which the Joneses had lived. Then the animals agree to leave the farmhouse intact as a museum. They confiscate a few hams for burial and leave.
The pigs reveal that they have taught themselves to read and write from an old children’s book, which they burned in the bonfire of human belongings. Snowball uses paint to replace the title “Manor Farm” with “Animal Farm” on the farm gate. Back in the big barn, they reveal that they have reduced Animalism to Seven Commandments. The animals must live by these commandments “for ever after.” The commandments, which Snowball writes on the wall with some typographical errors, are:
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
After reading the Seven Commandments out loud, Snowball declares that the animals must begin the hay harvest. Three cows interrupt his thought by lowing in pain, since their udders are full to bursting. Some pigs milk the cows, producing “five buckets of frothing creamy milk” (44). The animals wonder what to do with the milk, but Napoleon puts off that decision for a later time. The animals begin the harvest in the fields, and when they return the milk is gone.