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George Orwell > Animal Farm > Chapter III

Animal Farm

Chapter III

How they toiled and sweated to get the hay in! But their efforts were
rewarded, for the harvest was an even bigger success than they had hoped.

Sometimes the work was hard; the implements had been designed for human
beings and not for animals, and it was a great drawback that no animal was
able to use any tool that involved standing on his hind legs. But the pigs
were so clever that they could think of a way round every difficulty. As
for the horses, they knew every inch of the field, and in fact understood
the business of mowing and raking far better than Jones and his men had
ever done. The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the
others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should
assume the leadership. Boxer and Clover would harness themselves to the
cutter or the horse-rake (no bits or reins were needed in these days, of
course) and tramp steadily round and round the field with a pig walking
behind and calling out "Gee up, comrade!" or "Whoa back, comrade!" as the
case might be. And every animal down to the humblest worked at turning the
hay and gathering it. Even the ducks and hens toiled to and fro all day in
the sun, carrying tiny wisps of hay in their beaks. In the end they
finished the harvest in two days' less time than it had usually taken
Jones and his men. Moreover, it was the biggest harvest that the farm had
ever seen. There was no wastage whatever; the hens and ducks with their
sharp eyes had gathered up the very last stalk. And not an animal on the
farm had stolen so much as a mouthful.

All through that summer the work of the farm went like clockwork. 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. There was more leisure too,
inexperienced though the animals were. They met with many difficulties--for
instance, later in the year, when they harvested the corn, they had to
tread it out in the ancient style and blow away the chaff with their
breath, since the farm possessed no threshing machine--but the pigs with
their cleverness and Boxer with his tremendous muscles always pulled them
through. Boxer was the admiration of everybody. He had been a hard worker
even in Jones's time, but now he seemed more like three horses than one;
there were days when the entire work of the farm seemed to rest on his
mighty shoulders. From morning to night he was pushing and pulling, always
at the spot where the work was hardest. He had made an arrangement with
one of the cockerels to call him in the mornings half an hour earlier than
anyone else, and would put in some volunteer labour at whatever seemed to
be most needed, before the regular day's work began. His answer to every
problem, every setback, was "I will work harder!"--which he had adopted as
his personal motto.

But everyone worked according to his capacity The hens and ducks, for
instance, saved five bushels of corn at the harvest by gathering up the
stray grains. Nobody stole, nobody grumbled over his rations, the
quarrelling and biting and jealousy which had been normal features of life
in the old days had almost disappeared. Nobody shirked--or almost nobody.
Mollie, it was true, was not good at getting up in the mornings, and had a
way of leaving work early on the ground that there was a stone in her
hoof. And the behaviour of the cat was somewhat peculiar. It was soon
noticed that when there was work to be done the cat could never be found.
She would vanish for hours on end, and then reappear at meal-times, or in
the evening after work was over, as though nothing had happened. But she
always made such excellent excuses, and purred so affectionately, that it
was impossible not to believe in her good intentions. Old Benjamin, the
donkey, seemed quite unchanged since the Rebellion. He did his work in the
same slow obstinate way as he had done it in Jones's time, never shirking
and never volunteering for extra work either. About the Rebellion and its
results he would express no opinion. 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.

On Sundays there was no work. Breakfast was an hour later than usual, and
after breakfast there was a ceremony which was observed every week without
fail. First came the hoisting of the flag. Snowball had found in the
harness-room an old green tablecloth of Mrs. Jones's and had painted on it
a hoof and a horn in white. This was run up the flagstaff in the farmhouse
garden every Sunday morning. 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. After the hoisting of the flag all the
animals trooped into the big barn for a general assembly which was known
as the Meeting. Here the work of the coming week was planned out and
resolutions were put forward and debated. It was always the pigs who put
forward the resolutions. The other animals understood how to vote, but
could never think of any resolutions of their own. 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. The
Meeting always ended with the singing of 'Beasts of England', and the
afternoon was given up to recreation.

The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves.
Here, in the evenings, they studied blacksmithing, carpentering, and other
necessary arts from books which they had brought out of the farmhouse.
Snowball also busied himself with organising the other animals into what
he called Animal Committees. He was indefatigable at this. He formed the
Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the
cows, the Wild Comrades' Re-education Committee (the object of this was to
tame the rats and rabbits), the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep, and
various others, besides instituting classes in reading and writing. On the
whole, these projects were a failure. The attempt to tame the wild
creatures, for instance, broke down almost immediately. They continued to
behave very much as before, and when treated with generosity, simply took
advantage of it. The cat joined the Re-education Committee and was very
active in it for some days. She was seen one day sitting on a roof and
talking to some sparrows who were just out of her reach. She was telling
them that all animals were now comrades and that any sparrow who chose
could come and perch on her paw; but the sparrows kept their distance.

The reading and writing classes, however, were a great success. By the
autumn almost every animal on the farm was literate in some degree.

As for the pigs, they could already read and write perfectly. The dogs
learned to read fairly well, but were not interested in reading anything
except the Seven Commandments. Muriel, the goat, could read somewhat
better than the dogs, and sometimes used to read to the others in the
evenings from scraps of newspaper which she found on the rubbish heap.
Benjamin could read as well as any pig, but never exercised his faculty.
So far as he knew, he said, there was nothing worth reading. Clover learnt
the whole alphabet, but could not put words together. Boxer could not get
beyond the letter D. He would trace out A, B, C, D, in the dust with his
great hoof, and then would stand staring at the letters with his ears
back, sometimes shaking his forelock, trying with all his might to
remember what came next and never succeeding. On several occasions,
indeed, he did learn E, F, G, H, but by the time he knew them, it was
always discovered that he had forgotten A, B, C, and D. Finally he decided
to be content with the first four letters, and used to write them out once
or twice every day to refresh his memory. Mollie refused to learn any but
the six letters which spelt her own name. She would form these very neatly
out of pieces of twig, and would then decorate them with a flower or two
and walk round them admiring them.

None of the other animals on the farm could get further than the letter A.
It was also found that the stupider animals, such as the sheep, hens, and
ducks, were unable to learn the Seven Commandments by heart. After much
thought Snowball declared that the Seven Commandments could in effect be
reduced to a single maxim, namely: "Four legs good, two legs bad." This,
he said, contained the essential principle of Animalism. Whoever had
thoroughly grasped it would be safe from human influences. The birds at
first objected, since it seemed to them that they also had two legs, but
Snowball proved to them that this was not so.

"A bird's wing, comrades," he said, "is an organ of propulsion and not of
manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing
mark of man is the HAND, the instrument with which he does all his

The birds did not understand Snowball's long words, but they accepted his
explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new
maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end
wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters When
they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this
maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating
"Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!" and keep it
up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.

Napoleon took no interest in Snowball's committees. He said that the
education of the young was more important than anything that could be done
for those who were already grown up. It happened that Jessie and Bluebell
had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to
nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away
from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for
their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached
by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion
that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.

The mystery of where the milk went to was soon cleared up. It was mixed
every day into the pigs' mash. The early apples were now ripening, and the
grass of the orchard was littered with windfalls. The animals had assumed
as a matter of course that these would be shared out equally; one day,
however, the order went forth that all the windfalls were to be collected
and brought to the harness-room for the use of the pigs. At this some of
the other animals murmured, but it was no use. All the pigs were in full
agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon. Squealer was sent to
make the necessary explanations to the others.

"Comrades!" he cried. "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! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades," cried
Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his
tail, "surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?"

Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it
was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this
light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good
health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that
the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when
they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.

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