Animal Farm By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Chapter 2

What Snowball (and the rest of the animals) fail to realize is that Sugarcandy Mountain — a paradise — is as unattainable a place as a farm wholly devoted to the principles of Animalism. As the biblical Moses led his people out of bondage and into the Promised Land, Moses the raven only offers a story about an obviously fictitious place. The fact that the animals are so willing to believe him reveals their wish for a utopia that (in the sky or on the farm) will never be found. Thus, Moses is the novel's "religious figure," but in a strictly ironic sense, since Orwell never implies that Moses' stories better the animals' condition. As Karl Marx famously said, "Religion … is the opium of the people" — an idea shown in the animals' acceptance of Moses' tales.

Once the animals rebel and drive Jones from the farm, they behave as a conquering army retaking its own land and freeing it from the yoke of oppression. All the symbols of Jones' reign — nose-rings, dog-chains, knives — are tossed into a celebratory bonfire. More important is that the animals attempt to create their own sense of history and tradition by preserving Jones' house as a museum. Presumably, future animals will visit the house to learn of the terrible luxury in which humans once lived, but, like Sugarcandy Mountain, this world where all animals study their oppressors instead of becoming them is a fantasy. Similarly, the renaming of Manor Farm to Animal Farm suggests the animals' triumph over their enemy. By renaming the farm, they assume that they will change the kind of place it has become — another example of their optimism and innocence.

The Seven Commandments of Animalism, like the biblical Ten Commandments, are an attempt to completely codify the animals' behavior to comply with a system of morality. Like the Ten Commandments, the Seven Commandments are direct and straightforward, leaving no room for interpretation or qualification. The fact that they are painted in "great white letters" on the side of the barn suggests the animals' desire to make these laws permanent — as the permanence of the Ten Commandments is suggested by their being engraved on stone tablets. Of course, like the Ten Commandments, the Seven Commandments are bound to be broken and bound to be toyed with by those looking for a loophole to excuse their wrongdoing.

The chapter's final episode involving the buckets of milk hints at the ruthlessness Napoleon will display as the novel progresses. One of the hens suggests that the milk be put into the animals' mash so that all can enjoy it — an Animalistic thought, to be sure, since the Seventh Commandment of Animalism states that "All animals are equal." Note that Napoleon, however, places himself in front of the buckets and sends Snowball to lead the animals to the harvest. Already the reader can sense the boar's greed and betrayal of the most basic law of Animalism. Napoleon is using the patriotism and drive of the other animals for his own purposes, which initially involve gaining as much control over the farm's food as he can.

Glossary

porkers hogs, especially young ones, fattened for use as food.

Windsor chair a style of wooden chair, esp. popular in eighteenth-century England and America, with spreading legs, a back of spindles, and usually a saddle seat.

Midsummer's Eve the night before the summer solstice, about June 21.

News of the World a popular periodical.

carpet bag an old-fashioned type of traveling bag, made of carpeting.

spinney a small wood; copse.

Brussels carpet a patterned carpeting made of small loops of colored woolen yarn in a linen warp.

Queen Victoria 1819-1901; queen of Great Britain & Ireland (1837-1901): empress of India (1876-1901): granddaughter of George III.

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