Welcome to the latest (and darkest) installment of blogging Animal Farm. You can catch up on Chapters 1-4 right here!
Previously, on Animal Farm: Snowball gets voted off the island, Napoleon is being super sketch, and the windmill falls down.
I’m gonna be honest: this recap is not for the faint of heart; unless, deep in your heart, you like slaughter and fascism. Okay, let’s go!
“It was a bitter winter.” That’s how this barrel of laughs starts out. The animals start rebuilding the windmill, this time with thicker walls, even though it was definitely Snowball’s fault that it fell down in the first place and not bad walls.
The food supply is very low. They’re eating chaff, pocket lint, and those weird powdery nuts that everybody leaves behind in trail mix.
The working class—I mean, the animals—are starving, so the pigs announce that the hens will have to sell their eggs. The hens say: “….Nah.” I mean, that was a big part of why they overthrew the humans! The pigs stop giving the hens rations. After five days, the poor hens give in—but nine of them have died.
Meanwhile, the pigs tell everybody that Snowball has been sneaking onto the farm in the dead of night, breaking tools, stealing corn, spray painting ‘U SUK’ on the barn wall, etc. The cows even say that “Snowball crept into their stalls and milked them in their sleep,” which, if you have ever been milked in your sleep, then you know that that is bad. Everything is Snowball’s fault. Ev-er-y-thing. The pigs #mansplain Snowball to the others:
Squealer: Actually, Snowball has been in league with Farmer Jones all along. He tried to make us lose the Battle of the Cowshed. He’s not a hero. That’s a common misconception.
Animals: So, you’re saying that even though we remember Snowball bravely leading the charge, in fact, Snowball tried to make us lose the battle, and Napoleon is the one who saved the day? But our brains are too small to remember?
It’s a bit confusing, but if Napoleon says it, then it must be true. Besides, he has all those scary dogs—and humans? They are just the worst.
A few days later, Napoleon assembles everybody in the barn. He announces that there are traitors among them—and pulls up four of the little pigs. The pigs, trembling, immediately confess to conspiring with Snowball, and the dogs rip their throats out.
“Anybody else?” asks Snowball. More animals come up to confess—some hens, a goose, sheep, etc.—and each gets its throat ripped out. By the end, it looks like the stage after my last performance at the high school talent show: littered with corpses, the smell of blood hangs in the air, and everyone is terrified and weirdly ashamed. The animals slink out.
They go up the hill all cuddle together, thinking and listening to Bon Iver’s saddest hits. Boxer figures the solution is, like usual, to work harder. Clover, in her brain, is like, “This is not what we dreamed of. We longed for a society of equals, each working according to his capacity, without hunger, violence or enslavement. We didn’t toil in order to be controlled by an oligarchy and watch our comrades be mercilessly torn to pieces.” Out loud, she sings “Beasts of England”—but it ain’t jaunty no mo’. All the animals sing the saddest karaoke ever. They sing the karaoke of the college freshman who has drank a bag of wine after getting dumped via text. Mournful.
But as they sing, Squealer comes up and tells them that this song is banned. What? Why?! They were just getting to the chorus (again)! Squealer says that this song was for the anti-human revolution, but the revolution is finished, so they have a new song instead. The new song, however, is not as fun as ‘Beasts of England.’ The remix sucks.
The animals get back on windmill-buildin’ duty. This is very hard, because it’s cold AF and all the Lunchables have expired so they’re hungry. Still, Squealer often reads them a list of statistics that show that there is more food than ever, and everybody is happy, actually, ya dumb idiots.
Meanwhile, didn’t one of the commandments say that you can’t kill another animal? They go to check and find that it says “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” Once again, they blame their own faulty memories. Because Napoleon is great, he’s the best! There’s even a poem for him now, calling him incredible titles like: “Lord of the swill-bucket!”
Now, to get £££, Napoleon is trying to sell some timber. He’s going back and forth between the two farmers, Pilkington and Frederick. Whoever he’s not about to sell to is a traitor and evil-doer—but that keeps changing. Some days it’s Frederick. Some days it’s Pilkington. At last, right when the animals finish the windmill— hooray!—Napoleon announces that they will sell the wood to Frederick.
They sell the wood, but, disaster: turns out Frederick gave the pigs forged bank notes. Napoleon is furious, and declares that they must prepare for an attack—and soon enough, it comes.
The humans charge the farm, armed to the teeth. The animals try to fight them off, but they’re outgunned. The humans go to the windmill and literally blow it up into tiny bits, to the horror of the animals. Once it’s blown up, the animals charge the humans and finally fight them off—but some animals get killed, and Boxer is hurt pretty badly. Everyone feels terrible, until the pigs convince them that this is actually a victory. Hmmmm but is it though? #StayWoke
One night later on, the pigs find whiskey in the basement and, ahem, get turnt. They are lit like Irishmen on St. Paddy’s. The next day, looking pukey, Squealer announces that Napoleon is dying! Napoleon is dying, and if you bring alcohol anywhere near him he’ll kill you. Everyone freaks out and is super sad, but by the next day he’s okay again. Shocking.
Lastly, a funny thing happens: one night they hear a crash, and they all rush out to find Squealer by the wall of the commandments, with a broken ladder, a bucket of paint, and a paintbrush. Buhhh?! What could this mean?! Nobody knows, but the next day they see that one of the rules about alcohol is different from what they remember. Funny how that keeps happening, hmm? Well, it’s probably fine.