Summary and Analysis Chapter 5


Thus, Snowball is a leader who looks forward and considers the future of his nation, while Napoleon thinks only of the present, since his vision of the future is one in which he is in full control over animals who have no time for leisure activities. (This is again emphasized when Snowball argues for spreading news of the rebellion so that eventually all animals will rise against oppression, while Napoleon wants to create a stockpile of weapons that he can then turn, if needed, on his own citizens.) In short, Snowball's vision of life with the windmill is like Moses' Sugarcandy Mountain: An immensely desirable yet fantastic place.

Note that Benjamin does not endorse either pig, and their slogans have no effect on him. Like the reader, he is doubtful of Snowball's scheme and wary of Napoleon's maneuvers. All Benjamin believes is what he knows for sure, the sum total of which is that, "Windmill or no windmill, life will go on as it always had gone on — that is, badly." This cynical remark is perhaps the most important statement in the entire novel, for despite all of the ideologies, plans, battles, schemes, debates, betrayals, sound, and fury of the animals, the end result is that they return full circle to the exact same life they tried to avoid. As he does several times throughout the novel, Orwell speaks directly to the reader through Benjamin.

Napoleon's newfound power is based wholly on the threat of violence, as demonstrated in his "winning" the debate with Snowball by driving him off the farm. His decision to end all debates reflects his insatiable need for power: Debates, when conducted in the spirit of inquiry and discovery of viewpoints, are crucial to a government that wants its citizens to take part in their own rule. Napoleon, however, views debates as "unnecessary" because he will permit no questioning of his command and wants to silence any dissention. Like Big Brother, the personification of the all-powerful government in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Napoleon begins to become an unapproachable, godlike figure. Note that when the four porkers object to the way in which Napoleon seizes power, the dogs begin to growl, and the sheep bleat their "Four legs good" slogan over and over. This combination of relentless propaganda and threats of violence comprise Napoleon's philosophy of leadership — the same philosophy behind the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Napoleon's disinterment of Major's skull is his way of allying himself with the beloved father of Animalism — another piece of admittedly brilliant propaganda.

Squealer displays even more of his skill at doubletalk in this chapter. As he did previously with the milk and apples, Squealer paints Napoleon's crimes in a light that makes Napoleon more like a martyr than a dictator. Calling Napoleon's takeover a "sacrifice" and stating that leadership is "not a pleasure," the officious pig manages to — as was said earlier about him — "turn black into white." Even more invidious is Squealer's ability to rewrite history: He tells the animals that Snowball's part in the Battle of the Cowshed was "much exaggerated" and (once Napoleon decides to proceed with the building of the windmill) that the idea for it was Napoleon's all along. Again, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell attacks the ways in which those who rise to power revise the past in order to keep their grip on the present and future. These "tactics," as Squealer calls them, allow Napoleon to always present himself in the most favorable light — and, if an animal still objects, the three dogs accompanying Squealer serve as ample deterrent. Faced with Squealer's "skipping" words and the mouths of the dogs, an animal has hardly a choice but to submit to the new regime.


publican a saloonkeeper; innkeeper.

harrows frames with spikes or sharp-edged disks, drawn by a horse or tractor and used for breaking up and leveling plowed ground, covering seeds, rooting up weeds, etc.

binders machines that both reap and bind grain.