Orwell provides precise characterizations for the main animals
in the early Chapters of the book. He describes Old Major clearly in the third paragraph of Chapter 1 – “ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam.
He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut.”
We learn that Napoleon “was a large, rather fierce-looking
Berkshire boar '' not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way.”
For Snowball we read that he “was a more vivacious pig, quicker
in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character.”
The other major pig in the story is Squealer and we never obtain
a real clue as to his character, for his role is that of mouthpiece of Napoleon.
We can assume that he is a survivor, and bends with the wind, and he is ideally suited to the role of Napoleon’s propaganda machine because of his persuasive rhetoric. An example of this was during the milk and apples situation, in that the animals did not receive a share of this produce. Squealer’s response was, “Comrades! 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. '' Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain workers. '' Day and night we are watching over your welfare.” The reader can imagine similar rhetoric being transmitted over Tannoy systems in Red China and Russia to the commune workers.
For Boxer we learn that he is “an enormous beast, nearly
eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together.
A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work.”
Finally, Orwell describes the donkey Benjamin after the
rebellion thus, “the donkey seemed quite unchanged '' He did his work in the same slow obstinate way that he had done in Jones’ time, never shirking and never volunteering for extra work either.
When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would only say ‘Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey’ and the others had to be content with this