Years pass, and soon, only Clover, Benjamin, Moses, and some of the pigs remember life before the rebellion. Everyone else dies and even Boxer is forgotten. Clover is now 14, but she’s still not retired. Napoleon and Squealer are both huge and fat. There are many animals on the farm, but not as many as they’d projected to have by this time. Because of this, most of the animals don’t grasp the importance of the rebellion. There are three other horses besides Clover, none of whom are intelligent. The farm is prosperous, bigger than ever, and better organized. The windmill is done, but they use it for milling profitable corn, not for electricity as Snowball had proposed. Napoleon insists that Animalism is about working hard and living frugally, not about electricity and a three-day workweek.
That Clover is 14 and not retired means that even if Boxer had survived, he too wouldn’t have had anything great to look forward to: Animal Farm was going to continue to abuse him until he dropped dead, whether that was before or after the age of retirement. When Napoleon insists that Snowball’s promises for the windmill weren’t in line with Animalism, it’s another way for Napoleon to corrupt the ideals to serve his own agenda. Insisting that Animalism entails living frugally allows him to justify keeping the animals in poor conditions, while living in luxury himself.
Though the farm seems richer, the animals, except for the pigs and the dogs, don’t feel any richer. Squealer talks often about how much work the pigs must do to supervise and organize the farm, though he insists the other animals are too ignorant to understand what the pigs do. Regardless, the pigs and dogs don’t produce food, but they eat a lot. The other animals are still hungry, sleep on straw, and labor in the fields. The older ones try to remember if life was better immediately after Mr. Jones disappeared, but they can’t remember. They have nothing to compare their present to except for Squealer’s figures, which show that life is getting better. Benjamin is the only one who supposedly remembers everything, but he insists that things have never been better or worse. Life, he suggests, is about being hungry and disappointed.
Notice that at this point, the pigs don’t do much—so in this sense, they’ve become much like the humans they worked so hard to overthrow in that they don’t produce anything themselves. This shows that while the rebellion may have had noble beginnings, thanks to Napoleon’s corruption and his totalitarian rule, aren’t actually any better. In this sense, Benjamin is right: things for the animals have always been horrible, as they’ve seldom understood their power to rebel or been able to use it to create a society that actually serves them equally, as Old Major envisioned.
The animals never give up hope and are proud to be a part of Animal Farm. They still feel immense pride at the sight of their flag, and they all believe that Old Major’s foretold Republic of the Animals will still come. They secretly hum “Beasts of England” and take pride in the fact that all animals are equal on Animal Farm.
This passage speaks to the power of the state to make the populace feel nationalistic pride. That pride distracts them from all the things that are going wrong in their own lives, as they’re encouraged to think only about the bigger picture—which, for the pigs, looks great.
One summer day, Squealer takes the sheep to an overgrown part of the farm to browse and leaves them there for a week. He tells everyone that he’s teaching the sheep a new song. Just after the sheep return, Clover neighs in shock: Squealer is walking on his hind legs. The other pigs file out of the farmhouse on two legs as well. The dogs bark and the black cockerel announces Napoleon’s entrance. Napoleon haughtily looks on the other animals and carries a whip in his trotter. The animals consider saying something, but at once, the sheep loudly bleat “Four legs good, two legs better!” The pigs go back inside.
The shift to walking on two legs represents one of the pigs’ final steps toward becoming more human than animal. The maxim that Squealer teaches to the sheep shows again how easy it is to corrupt this kind of simplified language and twist or alter it to mean almost anything. Now, Squealer has come up with a phrase that, by all counts, actually supports human, two-legged superiority over everyone else—despite the stated ideals of the initial revolution.
Clover nuzzles Benjamin and leads him to the barn where the Seven Commandments are written. She says that she still can’t read, but she thinks the wall looks different. Benjamin reads the entirety of the text: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” With this, it doesn’t seem strange when the pigs all carry whips, purchase a radio, and install a telephone. It’s not odd when Napoleon starts to wear clothes and smoke a pipe.
The current text of the Seven Commandments is pretty meaningless. It corrupts the meaning of “equal” by making it clear that they don’t actually mean that anyone is equal, no matter what the word actually means. Because of this, however, the pigs are able to make it mean whatever they want it to—in this case, they use it to justify their rule and to justify wearing clothes.
A week later, several dogcarts containing neighboring farmers drive up to the farm for a tour. They admire everything, especially the windmill. The animals aren’t sure whether to be more afraid of the pigs or of the humans. That night, the animals hear laughter and singing from the farmhouse. They creep up to the house and the tall animals look in through the window. They see Napoleon sitting at the head of the table, surrounded by pigs and men all with mugs of beer. A card game is in progress. Mr. Pilkington stands to make a speech and says that he’s thrilled that the era of hostility between Animal Farm and the human farmers is over. The farmers believed that pigs couldn’t run a farm, but today, they saw that they were wrong—and the pigs are setting an example.
This dinner is a parallel to the Tehran Conference, in which Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Stalin met to talk about how to create peace after World War II. Orwell mocks everyone involved here by showing how the people who sought to get rich working with the Soviet Union made Stalin and the Soviet Union legitimate through giving them a stage like this—when, in Orwell’s opinion, the pigs and Stalin have and had no business in such a negotiation. Pilkington’s praise of Napoleon suggests that lording over a totalitarian state like this is appealing to many.
Mr. Pilkington says that the “lower animals” on Animal Farm perform more work and get less food than animals elsewhere—and he and his companions intend to copy Animal Farm’s methods. He emphasizes that there’s no reason for animosity between Animal Farm and the other farms. Mr. Pilkington chokes up on his own joke and then manages to say that if Animal Farm has its lower animals to deal with, the humans have their lower classes. Everyone roars with laughter and they toast to Animal Farm.
What Mr. Pilkington says about “lower animals” and “lower classes” makes it clear that the pigs—and Mr. Pilkington and the farmers—are in power exactly because they’re profiting off of a class structure of their own making, in which they end up on top. It’s a joke to them because they are so powerful in the grand scheme of things, which shows that they don’t actually care about anyone below them.
Napoleon stands to make a speech. He says that the rumors that Animal Farm is rebellious and subversive are false; they just want to coexist peacefully and would never consider stirring up rebellion elsewhere. Though he knows nobody is suspicious anymore, he’s going to make some changes. Animals will stop addressing each other as “Comrade,” and they’ll no longer observe the odd custom of marching past a boar’s skull on Sundays. The flag is now plain green too. Napoleon’s only criticism of Mr. Pilkington’s speech is that he spoke of Animal Farm, which isn’t the correct name anymore—the farm will go by its original name, Manor Farm. They drink to Manor Farm.
Changing the name of the farm back to Manor Farm is an attempt by Napoleon to begin manipulating the world at large through language. While Animal Farm is a name that speaks to the rebellious and revolutionary nature of the farm, calling it Manor Farm allows him to convey that the farm is normal, acceptable, and capable of existing as a part of polite society. The same goes for the other changes Napoleon mentions making; they all erase the farm’s history.
The animals outside see something strange happening to the pigs but can’t figure out what it is and creep away. They hear an uproar inside and return to the window. They see that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington each played an ace of spades at the same time, and everyone is shouting. The animals can’t tell the difference between the pigs and the men.
When Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington both play an ace at the same time, it shows that both of them are more than willing to cheat—in this sense, Napoleon is truly no better than any of the humans. The other animals are back exactly where they started: under the thumb of cruel, power-hungry, and cheating humans.