Those who actually do threaten Napoleon's rule are dealt with in a swift and brutal fashion. Napoleon calls a meeting of all the animals for the purpose of publicly executing dissidents in order to make the others understand what will happen to them should they refuse one of his orders. When the four pigs who protested against Napoleon's decision to end the Sunday meetings are called before him, they confess to have been secretly in touch with Snowball, in the hopes of receiving some clemency from Napoleon. This is the same technique used by the hens, who, likewise, are slaughtered. The number of other animals who confess to Snowball-inspired crimes, however, suggests the degree to which paranoia has gripped the animals, who now feel the need to confess things as slight as stealing six ears of corn or urinating in the drinking water. The scene of these confessions echoes the Salem witch trials, where seemingly rational people suddenly confessed to having comported with Satan as a way of relieving their psychological torments. Afraid that their crimes will be discovered, the animals confess them because they are unable to stand the strain of their guilt.
The terrible atmosphere of fear and death that now characterizes Animal Farm is discussed by Boxer and Clover at the end of the chapter. Boxer, naturally, concludes that he must work harder to atone for "some fault in ourselves"; like the confessing animals, he wants to purge himself of nonexistent evils. Clover, however, does gain a small amount of insight as she looks at the farm from the knoll and considers that the terrors she has seen were not in her mind when old Major spoke of his dream. However, since she lacked "the words to express" these ideas, her possibly revolutionary thoughts are never brought out. With Snowball gone, none of the animals are encouraged to read — for the same reasons that slaves throughout history were similarly deprived.
Napoleon's outlawing "Beasts of England" is his next step in assuming total control. Fearful that the song might stir up the same rebellious feelings felt by the animals the night Major taught it to them, Napoleon replaces it with a decidedly blander song that focuses on the responsibility of the animals to protect the farm, rather than to overthrow its leaders:
Animal Farm, Animal Farm,
Never through me shalt thou come to harm!
Of course, there is no debate about this decision, since the sheep who accompany Squealer effectively end all talk of it with their incessant bleating. Nothing at Animal Farm will ever be the same since the blood of animals has been shed by their own kind.
clamps piles of straw or peat under which potatoes are grown.
chaff the husks of wheat or other grain separated in threshing or winnowing.