Summary and Analysis Chapter 8


None of these unabashed displays of his own importance, however, deter the animals from worshipping him. The poem written by Minimus is notable for the ways in which it resembles a prayer, likening Napoleon to "the sun in the sky" and flattering him with lines like, "Thou are the giver of / All that thy creatures love." (Note the formal poetic diction found in words like "Thou," "Ere," and "thee" that seemingly elevates the dignity of the poem's subject.) As a whole, however, the poem portrays Napoleon as an omniscient force ("Thou watches over all, / Comrade Napoleon") that begins brainwashing his subjects from their first living moments:

Had I a sucking pig,
Ere he had grown as big
Even as a pint bottle or a rolling-pin,
He should have learned to be
Faithful and true to thee,
Yes, his first squeak should be
"Comrade Napoleon!"

Unlike "Beasts of England," which called for an uprising against tyranny and an increased sense of unity among all animals, Minimus' poem portrays Napoleon as a greater and better animal than all others, deserving their full devotion. On the surface, such a song of praise might seem like innocent flattery — but the reader understands that the poem is another weapon in Napoleon's propaganda arsenal.

Napoleon's relationship with Frederick and Pilkington also reveal his disregard for old Major's principles; indeed, Orwell remarks that relations between Napoleon and Pilkington become "almost friendly." When the animals are shocked to learn that Napoleon "had really been in secret agreement with Frederick" to sell him the timber, the reader (as with Minimus' poem) senses the truth and understands that there never was a "secret agreement," but that Napoleon had been sounding each man to see who would offer him a better price. Again Napoleon is able to manipulate the animals' perceptions in order to make himself appear in complete control. The pigeons that Napoleon releases with their varying slogans ("Death to Frederick" and "Death to Pilkington") resemble government-controlled media, spreading the official word on a topic to the world and completely contradicting all previous statements when necessary.

Another way in which Napoleon manipulates public opinion is his naming the windmill "Napoleon Mill." Building the windmill had been an effort of all the animals, but Napoleon names it after himself to again insinuate that Animal Farm has become what it is because of his actions. Ironically, this is true in both the positive and negative sense: Napoleon's leadership has freed the animals from human control — but it has also begun to enslave them to another form of tyranny. As Snowball is deemed responsible for everything that goes wrong on the farm, Napoleon is credited with all improvements. The animals praising him for the taste of the water and other things with which Napoleon obviously had nothing to do reveals the depth to which he has pervaded their minds — and terrified them into complete dependence and obedience.

The destruction of the windmill marks Animal Farm's final, irrevocable turn for the worse. As the windmill earlier symbolized the hopes of Snowball and a future of leisure, its explosion at the hands of Frederick symbolizes the absolute impossibility of Snowball's dreams. The Battle of the Windmill recalls, of course, the Battle of the Cowshed, but this battle is more chaotic, more bloody, and less effective than the former: "A cow, three sheep, and two geese were killed, and nearly everyone was wounded."

Like the statistics that "proved" that the animals could not be hungry, Squealer's logic in proving that the battle was a victory is an incredible display of political doubletalk at its most obvious and ludicrous: Boxer, bleeding and wounded, cannot conceive how Squealer can call the battle a victory, until the pig explains, "The enemy was in occupation of this very ground that we stand upon. And now — thanks to the leadership of comrade Napoleon — we have won every inch of it back again!" Boxer's deadpan reply to this — "Then we have won back what we had before" — contains a wisdom that even he cannot appreciate, for he is attempting to follow Squealer's logic while simultaneously (and unknowingly) pointing out the laughable nature of Squealer's claim. Here, as elsewhere, the satire of Animal Farm grows exponentially sharper and more bitter with each chapter.

The episode involving the alcohol is notable for the way in which it further characterizes the pigs as the gluttonous animals they are thought to be in the popular imagination, as well as how it offers another example of Napoleon's cold efficiency: His decision to use that paddock as a place to harvest barley instead of the old-age home it was originally earmarked to be clearly indicates that Napoleon values profits (and homemade spirits) over revering the aged.