By late summer, half of England knows about Animal Farm. Snowball and Napoleon send out pigeons to spread the word to other animals and teach them “Beasts of England,” while Mr. Jones sits in the bar in Willingdon and complains about his fate. The other farmers sympathize but refuse to help—they all want to make his misfortune work for them. Luckily for the animals, the owners of the two neighboring farms hate each other. The gentlemanly Mr. Pilkington owns Foxwood, an overgrown and old-fashioned farm on one side, while the shrewd Mr. Frederick owns Pinchfield on the other side. They hate each other too much to agree on anything, even if it’s in their best interests. Despite this, they’re terrified of what happened on Animal Farm. Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick try to keep their animals in the dark about what happened there and insist on continuing to call it Manor Farm.
The other farmers’ desire to make Mr. Jones’s misfortune work in their best interests suggests that when it comes to leaders like these farmers, it’s natural for them to want to amass as much power as possible with little regard for how their power might negatively affect those below them—in this case, the animals all over the country. Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick’s terror at what happened on Animal Farm shows that it’s possible for rebellion like what happened there to happen anywhere; in essence, these leaders are aware that they’re in a precarious and easily-toppled position.
None of the rumors that Mr. Frederick or Mr. Pilkington spread about Animal Farm, however, land well with their animals. Over the next year, animals that were once easygoing begin to act out and the humans cannot stop their animals from singing “Beasts of England.” In October, pigeons arrive with the news that Mr. Jones and men from Foxwood and Pinchfield are coming up the driveway to retake the farm. Mr. Jones has a gun. Snowball is prepared and sends animals to their posts. First, the pigeons and geese dive bomb and harass the men. Then, Muriel, Benjamin, and the sheep converge to butt and kick them. The men are too strong, so at Snowball’s signal, the animals race into the barnyard.
The miniature rebellions on the part of the other farmers’ animals speaks again to the power of language to unify people around a common cause, especially since the rebellious atmosphere is spreading due to “Beasts of England.” At this point, it still looks hopeful that the revolution might go in a good direction and avoid too much corruption. The attack by the men on Animal Farm mirrors the Russian Civil War, which took place not long after Tsar Nicholas was forced out.
To the men this looks like a retreat, so they rush after the animals. In the yard, however, the horses, cows, and pigs charge. Mr. Jones shoots at Snowball, but only grazes his back. Snowball flattens Mr. Jones as Boxer strikes at men with his front hooves. Even the cat leaps on a man, and the animals send the men racing for the main gate. Boxer, however, mournfully paws at a stable boy who appears to be dead and insists that he didn’t mean to kill anyone. Snowball insists that Boxer was right to kill the boy; he’s better off dead.
Though the cat does participate in this battle, it’s implied that there’s little risk to the cat. In this sense, it becomes clear that the cat is only interested in supporting the revolution if the revolution is in line with what it wants anyway. Snowball’s advice to Boxer shows how it’s possible for leaders to corrupt people’s strength and use it for their own personal gain, ethical or not.
The animals realize that Mollie is missing and find her hiding in her stall, terrified of the gun. When the animals return to the barnyard, they discover that the stable boy wasn’t dead and ran off. Nerves give way to excitement and a celebration of their victory. They run up the flag, sing “Beasts of England,” and they bury the one sheep who died in the battle. Snowball gives a speech emphasizing that animals must be willing to die for Animal Farm, and the animals create the honor of “Animal Hero, First Class,” which they give to Snowball. They also give the deceased sheep the honor of “Animal Hero, Second Class.” Together, the animals decide to call this conflict the Battle of the Cowshed, and when they find Mr. Jones’s gun, they decide to set it up and fire it twice per year on the anniversaries of the battle and the rebellion.
Unlike the cat, whose reasons and motives are somewhat less clear, it’s obvious to Mollie that participating in the battle would put her at risk of losing out on ribbons and sugar, so she’s not going to participate. Snowball’s speech in its entirety begins to illustrate how he’s starting to train the lower classes to be entirely loyal to the state—and even willing to die for it. Establishing holidays commemorating the revolution and the Battle of Cowshed create built-in times for Snowball to remind the animals of their duty to the state, as well as their pride in what they’ve created.