Animal Farm By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Chapter 6

Summary

During the following year, the animals work harder than ever before. Building the windmill is a laborious business, and Boxer proves himself a model of physical strength and dedication. Napoleon announces that Animal Farm will begin trading with neighboring farms and hires Mr. Whymper, a solicitor, to act as his agent. Other humans meet in pubs and discuss their theories that the windmill will collapse and that Animal Farm will go bankrupt. Jones gives up his attempts at retaking his farm and moves to another part of the county. The pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds, which Squealer excuses on the grounds that the pigs need their rest after the daily strain of running the farm.

That November, a storm topples the half-finished windmill. Napoleon tells the animals that Snowball is responsible for its ruin and offers a reward to any animal who kills Snowball or brings him back alive. Napoleon then declares that they will begin rebuilding the windmill that very morning.

Analysis

With the passing of a year, all of the animals (save Benjamin) have wholly swallowed Napoleon's propaganda: Despite their working like "slaves," the animals believe that "everything they did was for the benefit of themselves" and "not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings." When Napoleon orders that animals will need to work on Sundays, he calls the work "strictly voluntary" yet adds that any animal who does not volunteer will have his rations reduced. Thus, Napoleon is able to foster a sense of unity (where animals "volunteer") using the threat of hunger. This transformation of obvious dictatorial practices (forced labor) into seemingly benevolent social programs (volunteering) is another of Napoleon's methods for keeping the animals working and docile.

The effect of Napoleon's propaganda is also seen in Boxer's unflagging devotion to the windmill. Even when warned by Clover about exerting himself, Boxer can only think, "I will work harder" and "Napoleon is always right." The fact that he can only think in slogans reflects his inability to engage in any real thought at all. Slogans such as these are powerful weapons for leaders like Napoleon, who want to keep their followers devoted, docile, and dumb.

One of the most effective ways that Napoleon strengthens his rule is his use of the politics of sacrifice. Indeed, "sacrifice" is an often-repeated word in the novel, and Napoleon uses it to excuse what he knows others will see as his blatant disregard for the Seven Commandments of Animalism. For example, when ordering that Animal Farm will engage in trade with human beings and that the hens must sell their eggs, he states that the hens "should welcome this sacrifice as their own special contribution towards the building of the windmill." After facing some objections from the animals about trading with humans, Napoleon tells them that they will not have to come into contact with any human beings, since, "He intended to take the whole burden upon his own shoulders." Like the apples and milk (which the pigs' pretended not to like in the first place), Napoleon masterfully recasts himself as an animal like Boxer — when, of course, the reader sees that the pig and the horse are complete opposites in their selfishness and selflessness. Of course, if any animals ever hint at seeing through Napoleon's false humility, they will be greeted with the same combination of bleating and growls that faced Snowball in Chapter 5.

Squealer continues his work of mollifying the animals who object to Napoleon's plans. As he figuratively rewrites history when explaining that there never was a resolution against using money or trading and that the animals must have dreamed it, he literally rewrites history when he changes the Fourth Commandment from "No animal shall sleep in a bed" to "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." When Clover learns of the two added words, she is naturally suspicious but has been so brainwashed by Napoleon's regime that she concludes that she was mistaken. Squealer's explanation of why the pigs sleep in beds hinges on semantics rather than common sense: "A bed merely means a place to sleep in" and "A pile of straw is a bed, properly regarded" are examples of his manipulation of language. His most powerful word, of course, is "Jones," for whenever he asks, "Surely, none of you wishes to see Jones back?" all the animals' questions are dispelled.

The destruction of the windmill marks the failure of Snowball's vision of the future. It also allows Orwell to again demonstrate Napoleon's incredible ability to seize an opportunity for his own purposes. Afraid of seeming indecisive and a failure while all the animals stare at the toppled windmill, Napoleon invokes the name of Snowball as Squealer does with Jones: "Do you know," he asks, "the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!" For the remainder of the novel, Snowball will be used as a scapegoat for all of Napoleon's failings; his commands to begin rebuilding the windmill and shouting of slogans occur because he does not want to give the animals any time in which to consider the plausibility of his story about Snowball. Although he shouts, "Long live Animal Farm," he means, "Long live Napoleon!"

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