Winter comes, and Mollie works less and less. Eventually, Clover discovers that Mollie is being bribed off Animal Farm by one of Pilkington's men, who eventually wins her loyalties. Mollie disappears, and the pigeons report seeing her standing outside a pub, sporting one of the ribbons that she always coveted.
The pigs increase their influence on the farm, deciding all questions of policy and then offering their decisions to the animals, who must ratify them by a majority vote. Snowball and Napoleon continue their fervent debates, the greatest of which occurs over the building of a windmill on a knoll. Snowball argues in favor of the windmill, which he is certain will eventually become a labor-saving device; Napoleon argues against it, saying that building the windmill will take time and effort away from the more important task of producing food. The two also disagree on whether they should (as Napoleon thinks) amass an armory of guns or (as Snowball thinks) send out more pigeons to neighboring farms to spread news of the rebellion. On the Sunday that the plan for the windmill is to be put to a vote, Napoleon calls out nine ferocious dogs, who chase Snowball off the farm. Napoleon then announces that all debates will stop and institutes a number of other new rules for the farm.
Three weeks after Snowball's escape, Napoleon surprises everybody by announcing that the windmill will be built. He sends Squealer to the animals to explain that the windmill was really Napoleon's idea all along and that the plans for it were stolen from him by Snowball.
The defection of Mollie marks her as an even greater materialist than she had appeared to be earlier in the novel. The fact that she is bribed away from Animal Farm with sugar and ribbons — two items that Snowball condemned as unnecessary for liberty in Chapter 2 — shows her desire for luxury without making the necessary sacrifices to obtain it. She is a defector from the politics of Animal Farm and is never mentioned by the other animals, who find her abandonment of Animalism and the rebellion shameful. Despite their implied condemnation, however, the pigeons do report that "She appeared to be enjoying herself" — much more so than the animals who remain on the farm. Mollie may be politically shallow in the eyes of her former comrades, but she does manage to secure herself a much more comfortable life, which raises the question of whether one is better off living well with one's enemies or suffering with one's comrades. The novel eventually suggests that Mollie did, in fact, make a wise decision in leaving Animal Farm, although (to be fair) she did not do so because of any political or moral motives.
At this point, the pigs have gained more power: Earlier, they were "supervisors," but now they decide "all questions of farm policy." While these decisions still need to be ratified by the other animals, Orwell suggests that the pigs are gaining ground at a slow but steady rate. But with the "bitterly hard weather" that arrives that winter, so do "bitterly hard" debates increase between Snowball and Napoleon. Actually, "debate" is hardly the correct term, since only Snowball attempts to use rhetoric and logic to sway the other animals — Napoleon uses a number of what Squealer will later call "tactics" to get his way. For example, Napoleon spends time during the week training the sheep to break into their "Four legs good, two legs bad" bleating during "crucial moments" in Snowball's speeches; packing the meetings with his own unwitting supporters is Napoleon's calculated strategy here. His unleashing of the nine dogs later in the chapter is Napoleon's ultimate "debating technique": Violence, not oratory, is how Napoleon settles disagreements.
The windmill itself is a symbol of technological progress. Snowball wants it to be built because he thinks it will bring to the farm a degree of self-sufficiency — which accords with the principles of Animalism. Napoleon, however, cares nothing for the windmill (and even urinates on Snowball's plans for it) because he is only concerned with establishing his totalitarian rule. At the debate on the windmill, Snowball argues that after it is built, the animals will only need to work three days a week, while Napoleon argues that "if they wasted time on the windmill they would all starve to death."
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