Animal Farm Chapter 3

In Animal Farm Chapter 3, Animal Farm prospers and the animals are pleased to benefit from their labour: “The animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acute positive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master. With the worthless parasitical human beings gone, there was more for everyone to eat.”

Boxer, who adopts the motto ‘I will work harder’, becomes an inspiration for the other animals. It seems that the entire farm rests on “his mighty shoulders.” His friend Benjamin, on the other hand, is cynical about the revolution: “When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would say only ‘Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey,’ and the others had to be content with this cryptic answer.”

In this chapter, the rivalry between Napoleon and Snowball intensifies: “Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates. But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted on to oppose it. Even when it was resolved−a thing no one could object to in itself−to set aside the small paddock behind the orchard as a home of rest for animals who were past work, there was a stormy debate over the correct retiring age for each class of animal.”

In this chapter, it is revealed that the pigs are taking the milk and apples for themselves. Squealer steps in and persuades the other animals this is necessary for the prosperity of the farm: “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well−being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back!”

Animal Farm Chapter 3 Commentary

In this chapter, the animals create their own flag which is green and features a hoof and horn: “The flag was green, Snowball explained, to represent the green fields of England, while the hoof and horn signified the future Republic of the Animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown.” The hoof and horn are reminiscent of the hammer and sickle that adorned the Russian flag.

This chapter also demonstrates how totalitarian governments use propaganda to maintain control. Whenever the pigs do something unpopular that unfairly benefits themselves, Squealer puts forward a very persuasive argument convincing them that it’s in their best interest. When the animals discover that the pigs are taking the apples and milk for themselves, Squealer convinces them that they are “brainworkers” and it is necessary for the “whole management and organisation of the farm”. In the Soviet era, propaganda was used extensively to inspire people to believe in their country and their leader. The sheep who, in this chapter mindlessly repeat the phrase “four legs good, two legs bad” represent the masses who are easily swayed by propaganda. Orwell was suspicious of such sloganeering. In Why Orwell Matters, Christopher Hitchens wrote: “He was fond of drawing attention to the surreptitious importing of received opinions, through political slogans and advertising jingles, and the way in which people fell into the trap of expressing conventional thoughts that did not really belong to them.” Orwell was concerned that these slogans both drown out intelligent debate but also become convenient and incisors ways of thinking. 

In the essay Politics and the English language, he wrote: “When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning.”

Throughout Animal Farm, propaganda plays an important role in strengthening the pig’s control over the animals and the farm. 

In this chapter, rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon – who represent early leaders of the USSR Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin – intensifies. When the first leader of the USSR, Vladimir Lenin died, there was a power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin. Trotsky was ultimately exiled and Stalin became leader of the country.

Comprehension activities

1.  How do the animals feel about taking over the farm? Use quotations to support your answer.

2. Who was Alexey Stakhanov and who might represent him in the novel?

Writing activity

Respond to the following topic: In Animal Farm, the pigs are able to control the other animals because they are passive, docile and naive. Do you agree?

When you’re writing a response, as always, use a TEEL paragraph. 

  • Topic sentence. Explain your stance on the topic. Are the other animals passive and docile? 
  • Explanation. Explain how the animals are passive, docile and naive. 
  • Evidence. Make reference to specific events that occur in this chapter and use short quotations from the novel in sentences of your own to support your discussion. 
  • Link sentence. Close off the paragraph with a sentence that links back to the topic.

Now that you’re done with Animal Farm Chapter 3, why not check out this article and video on Chapter 4?

Photograph: MC-Photos