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One spring, at Manor Farm in the English countryside, the abused animals belonging to Mr. Jones, a sadistic drunkard, hold a meeting to discuss the appalling conditions on the farm. Old Major, the prize boar hog, leads the gathering, which is attended by all the animals, including Boxer the horse and his best friend, Benjamin the donkey. Snowball, Napoleon and the other pigs sit in the front row as Old Major tells the group of his fury over their exploitation and incites them to overthrow Jones in order to receive their fair share of Manor Farm's riches. Old Major then exhorts his friends to remember that once they have gotten rid of Jones, they must treat each other as equals or else they will be perpetuating Jones's vices. At the height of the animals' cheering, Old Major dies, and they voice their distress. The next morning, the animals awaken to find that Jones is still passed out and has not opened the locked barn to feed them. Infuriated, the animals break down the barn doors and stuff themselves with the food that Jones has kept hidden. After the noise awakens Jones, he threatens them with a whip and the animals retreat, but then band together and chase him away. Jones then gathers his friends from the local pub and returns to the farm, and during the ensuing battle, the animals disperse the men. There are some loses among the animals, however, and while the others tend to their fallen comrades, the sly, ambitious Napoleon finds a motherless litter of puppies. Napoleon hides the puppies, while the other animals make a bonfire out of harnesses, chains, whips and other items belonging to Jones. The animals make a tentative exploration of Jones's home but decide that the building is not for them, and soon, Snowball takes charge and begins organizing a new society for them, which he dubs "Animal Farm." The laws of Animal Farm, such as "No Animal Shall Sleep in a Bed," "No Animal Shall Kill Another Animal" and "All Animals Are Equal," are prominently painted on the barn, and soon the animals are cooperating to run the farm smoothly. As the summer passes, the animals are delighted by their success, especially Napoleon and his toady, Fat Pig Squealer, although Jones grows more glum as he passes his days in the pub. After the harvest is brought in, the animals begin to think of their future and of spreading the news of their venture to other farms. In situations where the animals are content, news of the uprising is shunned, but wherever beasts are being abused, they eagerly listen to the winged messengers' descriptions of Animal Farm. Snowball then tries to educate the animals, but some, like Benjamin, prefer to sleep during their lessons, and so Snowball moves on to solving the problem of generating power on the farm. Meanwhile, Napoleon continues his secret training of the pups, who have grown into powerful dogs that obey only him. In January, the animals suffer bitterly from the cold, and Snowball calls them together to discuss his new plan. As he promises electricity and warmth for all, he is loudly heckled by Napoleon, who calls in the dogs to chase Snowball into the woods and kill him. Napoleon immediately steps up to take control of the farm, and presents Snowball's idea of building a power-generating windmill as his own. Although they are leery at first, the animals accept Napoleon when he tells them that Snowball was a traitor attempting to bring back Jones. Soon, work on the windmill begins, and while the pigs live a leisurely life of "supervising," the other animals conduct the back-breaking labor. The hardest workers are Boxer and Benjamin, who continue long after the others have retired. Some of the animals grow disturbed upon learning that Napoleon sleeps in Jones's bed, but upon looking at the barn, find that the law prohibiting sleeping in a human's bed now reads, "No Animal Shall Sleep in a Bed with Sheets." Meanwhile, at the pub, wily trader Whimper overhears Jones and other disgruntled farmers muttering that the animals cannot thrive without outside help, and goes to Animal Farm. There, Whimper trades the greedy Napoleon some jam for the chickens' eggs, and when the irate chickens attempt to rebel, the dogs kill the farm's cat, to prove their power to the chickens. At a hearing, Napoleon rails against traitors who seek to bring back Jones, and a few animals reluctantly come forward to admit their guilt. The "guilty" animals are slaughtered by the dogs, and soon the barn bears another modified law: "No Animal Shall Kill Another Animal Without Cause." When Jones's neighbors discover how rich Whimper has grown through his trade with Animal Farm, they determine to subjugate the animals again and stage a raid on the farm. The animals fight fiercely and repel their attackers, although Boxer is wounded, and the drunken Jones succeeds in dynamiting the windmill. Despite his injury, Boxer leads Benjamin and the others in rebuilding the windmill, but while their rations grow scarcer, the pigs grow fatter and fatter. One night, Boxer is gravely wounded when a huge rock falls on him. Benjamin tends to his friend and the animals assume that Boxer will enjoy a well-deserved retirement, but are horrified when Napoleon sells him to Whimper's glue factory. After Boxer is loaded onto Whimper's truck, Benjamin races after him, braying at his friend, but cannot run fast enough to keep up. With Boxer gone, the animals cease to question the orders of the pigs, who begin consuming alcohol and acting more human. The seasons pass, and the pigs, who now wear human clothing, treat the other animals as slaves and establish other "pig-run enterprises" throughout the country. One day, an ancient and weary Benjamin sees a delegation of pigs arrive to celebrate their successes, and after they retire to the house, he alerts the animals to the new and sole law on the barn, which reads, "All Animals Are Equal but Some Animals Are More Equal than Others." News of the change spreads quickly to other farms, and the indignant animals, realizing that they must again revolt, join together to storm the Jones's house. With Benjamin in the lead, the animals trample the pigs and hope that someday their world will be happy again.