Animal Farm | Study Guide

George Orwell

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Chapter 9

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 9 of George Orwell's novel Animal Farm.

Animal Farm | Chapter 9 | Summary



The hoof Boxer split during the Battle of the Windmill takes a long time to heal, but he refuses to take any time off work. The animals have already started rebuilding the windmill, and Boxer knows he is essential to the project. He refuses to let the other animals see his pain and wants to see the windmill well underway before he retires, even though Clover and Benjamin caution him not to overexert himself. The original plans for Animal Farm allow horses to retire at 12 years with a pension of corn and hay, and Boxer's 12th birthday is coming up this year.

Conditions on the farm remain harsh, as the animals continue to undertake both farm and windmill-building duties through the winter. In addition the four sows litter a total of 35 piglets—all Napoleon's—so there are many more mouths to feed. These pigs need to be educated, so work also begins on a schoolhouse in the farmhouse garden. The expenses of the school and of machinery for the windmill, in addition to the other farm necessities, demand increased production of goods for sale and trade. Rations are reduced—or to use Squealer's word, "readjusted"—for everyone except pigs and dogs, but it doesn't seem to matter because he produces reams of figures to prove the animals are getting more food and working shorter hours than before. He also has numbers to prove that their drinking water is better, they're living longer, more of their offspring are surviving infancy, and they have more straw and fewer fleas in their stalls. The animals believe him because their memory of what life was like with Mr. Jones in charge has simply faded, and despite the cold, hunger, and long hours, they are free animals, not slaves to a human. That freedom alone makes everything seem better. The animals also enjoy the many songs, speeches, and processions that are now part of farm life. In late summer the farm is declared a republic, and an election is held for president, although Napoleon is the only candidate.

In the meantime the pigs live comfortably. They use barley to brew beer, and Napoleon keeps sugar on his table. They appear to be gaining weight. They also keep candles and lamps in the house, although to save oil, lanterns are no longer allowed in the stalls. Also, the pigs are allowed to wear green ribbons on their tails on Sundays. Other changes are apparent in the social order of the farm. The new piglets are not allowed to mingle with the other animals, and the other animals must yield to pigs when they meet on a path.

The pigs also offer one more revision to Snowball's history, claiming that he actually led the human forces into battle. Napoleon, not Mr. Jones's gun, inflicted the wounds on Snowball's back. Many of the animals claim to have witnessed these events firsthand. When Moses returns with his stories of Sugarcandy Mountain, the pigs officially declare his stories lies, but they also provide the bird with a daily ration of beer.

In late summer, near his time of retirement, Boxer collapses near the windmill site. A lung has given way, and the animals rush to the pigs for help. Squealer comes to the site after 15 minutes with word that Napoleon is making arrangements to send Boxer to a veterinary hospital in the village. Clover and Benjamin escort Boxer to his stall and stay with him while they aren't working, comforting him and keeping flies away. Two days later, while they are in the fields, a van comes to take Boxer away. The animals rush to see him off, but only Benjamin can read the writing on the side of the van. He sees that it belongs to the local horse slaughterer. Benjamin yells out the truth to the other animals, and Clover shouts a warning to Boxer. Boxer tries to kick his way out of the van, but he is too weak to do so.

Three days later, the pigs announce that Boxer died in the hospital. Squealer claims to have been with Boxer at the very end and that Boxer's last words were "Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right!" Squealer also refutes the story that Boxer left in the horse slaughterer's van, claiming the veterinarian just bought the van from the local knacker and had not yet repainted it. The animals are relieved to hear this story and happy to hear that Napoleon paid for Boxer's medical expenses. Later, Napoleon announces that it is not possible to bring Boxer's remains back to the farm for burial, but he will send a wreath of laurels down to Boxer's grave in the village.

A few days later, a van delivers a large crate to the farmhouse, which the animals learn is full of whisky, and the pigs hold a memorial banquet in Boxer's honor, with just themselves in attendance. There is much noise in the house that night.


Squealer's arguments have ceased to even make much sense. He claims that completely identical rations would be "contrary to the principles of Animalism," a statement that negates the most basic principle of Animalism: equality. He has expanded the type and amount of statistics he offers the animals, showing them how all aspects of their lives are better now than they were with Mr. Jones. The animals believe these claims because they lack the knowledge to refute them and also because they need to believe these claims. Otherwise, their rebellion and the suffering they have experienced would be for nothing.

In contrast, the pigs no longer do much at all to justify or cover up the fact that they live far more comfortably than the other animals. The animals do not seem to notice, or do not choose to observe, that many of the luxuries the pigs enjoy, such as oil lamps in the house, come at the animals' expense. Napoleon is committed to building a schoolhouse for the young pigs so they can be educated, whereas no such plans are being made for the other animals, and educating the young pigs alone will ensure only pigs will remain in power for generations to come. Additionally, the growing numbers of pigs actually mean the animals may be worse off than they were under Mr. Jones. The exact number of Jones's men is never specified, but his family definitely had fewer than 35 members, which is now the number of piglets in the farmhouse, let alone the adult pigs. The animals are clearly providing for a much larger number of pigs than they had of humans.

To make up for the deprivation the animals must endure, the pigs have arranged plenty of distractions in the form of demonstrations, parades, songs, and speeches. Napoleon's election creates the appearance that the animals have a say in the way the farm runs, but it is only an illusion because Napoleon is the sole candidate. Only a few of the animals seem to recognize these events and demonstrations waste hours they could be working on any of the many projects the pigs have put forth.

In a similar vein, the pigs have allowed Moses to return to the farm although he was never officially expelled. The pigs publicly scorn Moses, but they also essentially pay him a daily salary of beer to soothe the animals with his stories of Sugarcandy Mountain. The animals enjoyed the stories in Mr. Jones's days because they were a distraction from the harshness of their lives, and it is the same now that their lives are even harsher under the pigs.

Over the years since the revolution, the pigs have betrayed nearly all of the ideals Old Major put forth in his speech. They have modified the Seven Commandments, sold the hens' eggs that were meant to become chicks, and with Boxer, committed another evil previously attributed to humans alone: sending an animal off to slaughter once he has outlived his usefulness—not just any animal, either, but the most loyal and devoted follower of Animalism. The lie Squealer tells about the knacker's van is almost laughably transparent, but the animals believe it because they still trust the pigs and because the lie is far more comfortable than the truth. As with the weekly numbers, to reject Squealer's lie would mean accepting that they now live under the control of pigs who would sell even their most loyal worker to slaughter. The animals need to believe they have suffered for something, that their lives since the rebellion are better, and that the rebellion had real meaning. Living conditions in communist countries, including the Soviet Union, have historically featured extreme deprivation for the masses while the leaders lived in luxury. Like the animals, the common people cling to the ideals of their revolution because they either fear the punishment that comes with protest or they can't face that the leaders they have trusted would exploit them so completely.

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