Summary and Analysis Chapter 3


The flag created by Snowball is, like the Seven Commandments and the preserving of Jones' house as a museum, an attempt by the animals to create a greater sense of solidarity and emphasize their victory. Snowball's Animal Committees fail, however, because in them he attempts to radically transform the animals' very natures. Trying to create a "Clean Tails League" for the cows is as doomed to fail as trying to tame the wild animals in a "Wild Comrade's Re-education Committee." Snowball's aims may be noble and high-minded, but he is naive in thinking that he can alter the very nature of the animals' personalities. Thus, Snowball is marked as the intellectual theoretician of the rebellion — a characteristic that will be heightened later when he begins planning the construction of the windmill. Like old Major, Snowball has noble yet naive assumptions about the purity of animals' natures.

Unlike Snowball, Napoleon is a pig of action who cares little for committees. His assumption that the education of the young is the most important duty of the animal leaders may sound like one of Snowball's altruistic ideas — but he only says this to excuse his seizure of the new pups that he will raise to be the vicious guard dogs he uses to terrorize the farm in later chapters.

Note that the characters of other animals are further developed in this chapter. Boxer, for example, is portrayed as a simple-minded but dedicated worker: He cannot learn any more than four letters of the alphabet, but what he lacks in intelligence he more than makes up for in devotion to the farm. His new motto — "I will work harder" — and request to be called to the field half an hour before anyone else marks him as exactly the kind of animal that the pigs feel confident in controlling. When there is no thought, there can only be blind acceptance. (Like Boxer, the sheep are content with repeating a motto instead of engaging in any real thought. Their repetition of "Four legs good, two legs bad" will continue throughout the novel, usually when Napoleon needs them to quiet any dissention.)

Mollie's vanity is stressed in her reluctance to work during the harvest — she cannot devote herself to any cause other than her own ego. Thus, when she is taught to read, she refuses to learn any letters except the ones that spell her name. Unlike Snowball (and his intellectual fancies) or Napoleon (and his ruthlessness), Mollie willingly abstains from any part in the political process.

Old Benjamin's character is likewise developed in this chapter. Orwell points out that Benjamin "never changed" and that, when asked about the rebellion, only remarks, "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey." The other animals find this reply a "cryptic" one, but the reader understands Benjamin's point: He is wary of becoming too enthusiastic about the rebellion, since he knows that any new government can succumb to the temptation to abuse its power. Later, when the animals learn to read, Benjamin never does, since he finds "nothing worth reading." His cynicism is out-of-place with the patriotism felt by the other animals, but he cannot be convinced that the rebellion is a wholly noble cause — and, after witnessing the actions of the pigs, neither can the reader.


cutter a small, light sleigh, usually drawn by one horse.

whelped gave birth to: said of some animals; here, meaning a litter of puppies was born.

windfalls apples blown down by the wind from trees.

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