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Chapter 10

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 10 of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm.

Animal Farm | Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

After many years, most of the animals who fought in the rebellion have died, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses, and some pigs. The animals now on the farm have known life under only the pigs' rule, and the ideals of the rebellion are abstract notions to them. Although the farm is larger now with more animals, and the farm appears prosperous, the living conditions for everyone other than the pigs remain as dismal as ever. Squealer continues to present numbers to tell the animals how good they have it, but their primary comfort and pride lies in the fact that they are part of the only farm in the country owned and operated by animals.

During the summer, Squealer takes the sheep away to teach them a new saying, which is revealed on the day the pigs also reveal a new trick to the animals. The pigs walk on their hind legs. The animals are terrified and amazed by this development, but before they can respond, the sheep unveil the new chant, "Four legs good, two legs better!" Napoleon also begins carrying a whip in his trotter.

Around the same time, the Seven Commandments disappear from the wall of the barn, replaced by a single commandment: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The pigs order a radio and magazine subscriptions, and they start wearing Mr. Jones's clothes.

About a week after the pigs start walking on two legs, they host a dinner party for the local farmers. The animals watch the dinner party through a window while Mr. Pilkington makes a toast praising the methods and efficiency of the farm. Napoleon thanks Pilkington and takes the opportunity to dispel any rumors still circulating about the farm, including that the animals call each other "comrade" or salute a boar's skull on Sunday mornings. He also announces the farm will now be known by its original name, Manor Farm. At this, the disheartened animals move away from the window toward their stalls. The noise of raised voices draws them back to the house where they see the pigs and men fighting, but now they cannot tell which is which.

Analysis

The pigs' transformation of the farm becomes more complete as time passes. Now only a few animals remember the rebellion firsthand, let alone life before the rebellion, so the pigs are free to abandon Animalism's last lingering principles. They begin to live fully the same way as humans, walking on two legs, wearing clothes, and consorting with true humans socially. Erasing the last bits of the rebellion's history, they bury Old Major's skull, get rid of the flag, and paint over the Seven Commandments. It's as if the rebellion never took place.

These events remove the last bit of comfort and illusion from the animals' lives. They have clung to the knowledge that as bad as things may seem, they do not work for humans, only for themselves. The final scene, in which they can no longer tell the difference between pigs and men, finally erases that illusion for the animals. They do work for humans, essentially. They held a rebellion to overthrow a set of unjust and greedy rulers, and ultimately end up with just another group of unjust and greedy rulers. Benjamin's claim at the beginning of the story, that nothing much will ever change for the animals, proves true—although it is easy to wonder if this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

From the historical perspective, this sequence of events is not uncommon. The Russian Revolution was simply an early 20th-century example that struck Orwell hard because it was initially so full of promise yet turned out so be so disappointing. The communists overthrew the ruling class because its members exploited the workers, but then Stalin and his followers simply exploited the workers themselves, eliminating anyone who disagreed with them and living in comfort. Orwell's message is clear. As England's Lord Acton famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The true enemy of the people is not one socioeconomic class or another, but totalitarianism. So many revolutions have followed a similar pattern: a rebellion takes place to overthrow a government only to be replaced by leadership ultimately as bad or worse.

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