The chapter starts by introducing Mr. Jones’ farm and then describes how Mr. Jones drunkenly makes his way to bed one night. Once he has gone to bed, the animals around the farm become active, making their way to the barn because they have heard rumours that old Major, Mr. Jones’ prize boar, has had a strange dream that he wishes to share with them.
We are introduced to each of the animals as they arrive. When everyone is present, Major begins his speech. He starts out by saying that he believes he will die soon and that he wishes to share his wisdom. Then he tells the other animals about the ways in which humans take advantage of them - feeding them barely enough to survive, and forcing them to work extremely hard, before finally slaughtering them when they are no longer useful. Major insists that England has plenty of resources for everyone - the problem is that humans keeps stealing them for themselves. Because of human beings’ crimes, Major tells the animals that the time will soon come for a rebellion. The animals agree that all of them must stand together as comrades in the struggle against humans - wild animals as well as farm animals.
Before moving on to his dream, Major notes that the animals must never descend to the level of human beings. To this end, he lists a number of rules or commandments that they must follow during and after the revolution. For example, no animal shall ever kill another animal.
Major then talks briefly about his dream of the earth as it will be when humans have vanished. Finally, he shares an old song called ‘Beasts of England’, which talks about the end of human beings’ reign. The animals sing the song together with great passion, before their meeting is finally brought to an end by Mr. Jones. He is awoken by the noise and shoots a gun from his window, believing a fox has entered the yard.
Three nights after the meeting, old Major dies. His ideas continue to be popular among the animals, however, and the pigs take it upon themselves to educate the other animals on the principles necessary for achieving the revolution. Three pigs play especially important roles in this work - Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer. Together they create a form of political philosophy they call Animalism, and they try to teach the other animals about their ways. Some animals have trouble understanding the complex ideas they present, but they mostly accept them. The pigs particularly gain the loyalty of the two horses, Boxer and Clover.
We are briefly introduced to Mr. Jones’ pet raven Moses. Moses is unpopular among the animals because he does not work, but instead simply tells stories about Sugarcandy Mountain, a sort of animal paradise. Many of the animals believe his stories and the pigs find it difficult to change their minds.
The rebellion happens soon afterwards, almost by accident. Mr. Jones has grown increasingly drunken and irresponsible, which leads to the animals being left unfed for a long time. They finally break into Mr. Jones’ food stores. Mr. Jones and his men discover this and try to chase them away, but they do not expect the animals to resist and therefore quickly flee the farm when they are attacked - along with Mrs. Jones and Moses the raven.
At first the animals are extremely excited to be free. They tear down or burn parts of the farm that remind them of being oppressed. They carefully enter the farmhouse itself and decide that it should be preserved as a museum - but that no animal must ever live ther...