Course Hero. "Animal Farm Study Guide." Course Hero. 15 Sep. 2016. Web. 13 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Animal-Farm/>.
Course Hero. (2016, September 15). Animal Farm Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Animal-Farm/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Animal Farm Study Guide." September 15, 2016. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Animal-Farm/.
Course Hero, "Animal Farm Study Guide," September 15, 2016, accessed May 13, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Animal-Farm/.
Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 7 of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm.
Work continues on the windmill through the bitter winter because the animals want to prove themselves to the humans who doubt them. These same humans say the windmill collapsed because the walls were too thin, but the animals continue to believe Snowball is responsible. However, they also decide to rebuild the windmill with thicker walls, which means they need more stone. Collecting the stone in winter weather is slow and difficult, impeding their progress. Only Boxer and Clover, with their unshakable work ethic, keep up the animals' spirits.
Other problems abound. In January an improperly planted potato crop fails, leaving the farm with a severe food shortage. Despite near-starvation, Napoleon and the animals work frantically to conceal the shortage from the outside world. Rumors of famine are already circulating among the humans, so confirming these rumors would put the farm in danger. The animals are instructed to talk about increased rations when Mr. Whymper is around. Still, Napoleon makes arrangements to sell more of the hens' eggs so the farm can buy grain to make up for the shortfall in their stores.
Wanting their eggs to become chicks, the hens rebel, laying their eggs in the henhouse rafters so they fall to the floor and break. Napoleon responds by withholding the hens' rations, but their resistance still lasts for five days. Nine hens die of starvation, but Napoleon makes sure the other animals are told they died of disease.
Although Snowball has not been sighted directly, rumors swirl that he is hiding on either Pilkington's or Frederick's farm, depending on which farmer Napoleon is leaning toward doing business with—or not—at any given time. Later the pigs claim Snowball has been returning to the farm at night to cause mischief—stealing corn, upsetting milk pails, eating bark off fruit trees. All the bad things that happen are blamed on Snowball, even if the true causes become apparent later. Eventually Squealer announces Snowball has sold himself to Frederick and says Snowball was always in league with the humans, even fighting for Jones at the Battle of the Cowshed.
Later, Napoleon uses the threat of Snowball to eliminate some of his enemies. During a meeting, he sends his dogs after the four pigs who question his trade plans, the hens that have rebelled over the eggs, and a few other animals who confess to working with Snowball. All of these animals are executed immediately. This violence stuns the other animals, especially Clover. After the executions, she and the other animals gather on the knoll where the windmill stood. In an attempt to comfort themselves, the animals try to sing "Beasts of England," but Squealer tells them the song is now banned, replaced with a new song swearing allegiance to Animal Farm.
The animals all agree that the outsiders can't know what is really going on with the farm's food supply because that would leave them open to another attempt from the humans to take over the farm. They cooperate with the plan to keep the humans from finding out the truth.
Snowball becomes a useful scapegoat for the pigs to cover their own mismanagement of the farm. Blaming Snowball is so useful for deterring questions about the windmill collapse, they blame him for everything that goes wrong on the farm. However, when a misplaced key that Snowball has allegedly thrown down a well turns up under a sack of meal, it becomes obvious that Snowball's involvement is just a fiction. He is likely not coming to the farm at all, but the animals seem to ignore this fact. Many of Snowball's alleged crimes are food-related: missing corn, upset milk pails, broken eggs. The cows even claim Snowball comes to their stalls and milks them at night. Blaming Snowball can be a way for the animals to cover up some of their own shortcomings, such as reduced milk production. It is also possible the pigs use Snowball to cover for their own activities. If a pig is seen eating bark from a tree or taking corn or milking a cow at night, it makes sense to claim the malefactor is Snowball instead of creating suspicion among themselves.
The pigs are so committed to the Snowball ruse, they rewrite their history of the Battle of the Cowshed. Snowball has been called the hero of that battle, and his strategies made victory possible. Yet Squealer convinces the animals that Snowball was working for Mr. Jones the whole time, serving as Jones's guide through the battle. This story further discredits Snowball, illustrating the animals' willingness to believe anything the pigs tell them. They don't remember their own history or even take the time or trouble to try to recall what really happened, so they are open to whatever story the pigs feed them.
As the executions prove, scapegoating Snowball is also a good way for Napoleon to keep the other animals in line through intimidation. Some of the animals confess to being in league with Snowball, perhaps in a futile effort to save themselves, or perhaps because they have been brainwashed sufficiently to believe Snowball truly made them lay eggs in the rafters or urinate in the drinking water supply. However, the stunned reaction the animals have to the executions shows they did not expect such carnage. The killings parallel Stalin's Great Purge during the 1930s, in which hundreds of thousands of government opponents or perceived opponents were executed or imprisoned. The most disturbing part of the animals' reaction to the executions is that despite their despair over these events, they are still convinced they are better off now than they were with Mr. Jones, revealing how brainwashed or fearful, or both, the animals have become.