Animal Farm begins with a very drunk Mr. Jones (owner of Manor Farm) doing a really crumby job of, you know, his job. The neglected animals listen to a wise old pig, old Major, who encourages them all to rebel and run the farm themselves. Above all, he says, everyone should be equal. Then he dies. Everyone is excited except for Benjamin, a cynical donkey whose main job in life is to be, well, cynical.
The animals do rebel, and the pigs, being the smartest animals, naturally take the leadership role (so much for that equality business). There is some immediate conflict between two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon wants to sit around and be in charge of everything, while Snowball wants to teach the other animals (Imagine!) and build a windmill. Napoleon uses nine ferocious and enormous dogs (which he stole when they were young) to become the All Powerful Dominant Boss Leader Chief Pig. He doesn’t call it that, but it’s in the back of his mind somewhere. So Snowball is out of the picture, which is convenient for blaming everything on him.
The pigs exploit the other animals shamelessly, breaking all the rules that they had established after the Rebellion. Things fall apart: life on the farm gets worse and worse, the animals forget old Major’s original dream, and the pigs make some poor management decisions when dealing with the neighboring farms. The culminating miserable moment comes when the pigs send Boxer, a hardworking and loyal horse who is ready for retirement, to his death. Ouch.
In short, the pigs are starting to look a lot like the horrible human owners that we started with at the beginning of this whole mess. They may even be worse. So old cynical Benjamin was right.
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