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Animal Farm | Discussion Questions 21 - 30


How does Squealer smooth over Napoleon's actions after the takeover of the farm in Animal Farm Chapter 5?

As a master of propaganda and public speaking, Squealer puts his skills to work after Snowball is exiled and Napoleon takes over. He relies on his standard strategies, opening by saying Napoleon's assumption of leadership is an act of self-sacrifice for the animals' own good, denying any personal benefits Napoleon may derive from controlling the farm. He questions the animals' ability to make decision for themselves, which is a valid point, but his mention of it also serves to undermine the animals' confidence in their own knowledge and abilities. He undercuts the animals' confidence in their own memories when he declares Snowball a criminal and counters their claims that Snowball was brave in the Battle of the Cowshed by saying Snowball's role has been much exaggerated. Once the animals lose confidence in what they think they know, they are more open to Squealer's version of events. He concludes with his appeal to the animals' fear that Mr. Jones might return to the farm if they don't do as they are told, and as in the past, this statement effectively ends all discussion.

Why are the animals so vulnerable to the pigs' manipulation in Animal Farm Chapter 5?

Even before the rebellion, the other animals acknowledge the pigs' superior cleverness, so they initially allow the pigs to take charge of the farm's management. Although the other animals have a limited ability to read and write, they also choose to participate only minimally in the Sunday meetings and debates. They do not ask questions when the pigs take any sort of action. Because the animals do not make a point of actively participating in their own governance after the rebellion, they too often learn what is really happening around them only after it is too late to protest or change what is going on. While it is possible the pigs would find other ways to suppress the animals' questions and preferences, the animals' lack of engagement and resistance makes the pigs' job of manipulating the situation much easier.

What evidence appears in Animal Farm Chapter 6 to indicate the animals are actually working harder for less food?

The amount of labor required to build the windmill is huge. It often takes a whole day just to get a boulder into position to drop it into the quarry and break it apart into useful building stone, and often the drop does not crack the boulder, requiring the animals to repeat the whole process. The animals believe they are saving labor in other areas because they no longer have to maintain fences and their weeding processes are more thorough, but the elimination of these activities hardly balances the labor involved in the large construction project. Furthermore the construction of the windmill has eaten into farming time, so crop yields are lower, resulting in smaller stores of food. However, the animals ignore these realities. After all, they are working for the common good, and they think any shortcomings in their current situation are mitigated by the fact that they do not have to answer to humans.

What case can be made that the decision to trade with other farms in Animal Farm Chapter 6 actually violates the Seven Commandments?

When the pigs announce the decision to engage in trade with the human owners of other farms, the animals hesitate to accept this decision. Squealer assures the animals that no resolutions to avoid trade with humans or to avoid using money were ever passed, taking advantage of the animals' poor memories again. Technically Squealer is correct in that the Seven Commandments contain no explicit limitations on trade or the use of money, but the act of trading with humans does undermine the principle that anything that walks on two legs is an enemy. Furthermore the first items slated for trade with the other farms are the hens' eggs. When Old Major outlined his vision for the animals' free future, he specifically cited the hens' loss of eggs, which could have become offspring, as a gross violation the humans inflicted upon the hens. Now the pigs, encouraging the hens to make a sacrifice for the good of the farm, are committing that very offense.

After the rebellion how has the humans' relationship with the farm changed in Animal Farm Chapter 6?

Even though the humans have decided to do business with the animals and refer to the farm by its new name, Animal Farm, they continue to wish it ill. In fact the humans hate the farm even more now that it appears to be prospering, because they are even more fearful that their own animals will be inspired to rebel. Likewise the humans want the windmill to fail for the same reasons. Any success at Animal Farm represents a threat to their own farms. However, their willingness to trade with the farm speaks to the depth of the humans' own self-interest. Business and the opportunity to profit still trump any personal reservations the humans have about Animal Farm.

How does blaming the windmill collapse on Snowball benefit Napoleon in Animal Farm Chapter 6?

When the windmill collapses, Napoleon has a few options for placing blame. He can blame the weather, which is the most likely cause of the collapse, but the animals may be demoralized and reluctant to rebuild if they believe they are working against forces of nature. He can blame the design or quality of construction—other likely factors—but that would place himself and the pigs in line for criticism, which would undermine their position of power. The animals know the humans wish the project to fail, but if Napoleon blames the humans for sabotaging the windmill he kills the opportunity to trade with them. Snowball makes an appealing scapegoat because making him into a villain only solidifies Napoleon's own support, and Snowball's participation in the alleged sabotage is impossible to disprove. Issuing the directive to bring Snowball to justice also serves Napoleon's purposes because if Snowball is still in the area, this directive provides a chance to eliminate him permanently. Lastly, using Snowball as a scapegoat offers a propaganda opportunity. He can been presented as an external threat like Mr. Jones that the pigs can unite the other animals against to preserve their own power.

Why does Napoleon offer a greater reward if Snowball is captured alive in Animal Farm Chapter 6?

After Snowball is blamed for sabotaging the windmill, Napoleon offers the honor of Animal Hero, Second Class and a half bushel of apples to the animal who kills Snowball. Then, in a chilling turn, he offers a full bushel of apples to any animal who brings in Snowball alive. Of course, there is a slim chance the animals will find, capture, or kill Snowball at all. At the same time, Napoleon's edict and offers indicate that his interest in finding Snowball is personal. Perhaps he would rather have Snowball alive so he can make Snowball suffer and inflict the suffering himself. Alternatively, he could be trying to show a benevolent side of himself to the animals. Mostly, though, a sadistic and vindictive side of Napoleon's personality shows itself here, indicating that some of his cruelty may not be simply about self-interest. He may also like inflicting it.

Why does Napoleon spread different rumors about Snowball's whereabouts in Animal Farm Chapter 7?

Napoleon changes his story about Snowball's purported location based on whether he is getting along with Mr. Frederick or Mr. Pilkington at any given time. By reporting that Snowball is hiding on either man's farm, Napoleon can change the animals' opinions to suit his own alliances. When Napoleon is negotiating with Mr. Frederick to raise the price of the timber he wants to sell, Napoleon claims Snowball is hiding on Frederick's farm. Once Napoleon decides to sell to Frederick and he becomes an ally, the story changes: Snowball has been hiding on Mr. Pilkington's farm all along. These stories are also designed to inspire confidence in Napoleon on the part of the animals, who believe Napoleon actually knows where Snowball is. Of course critical thinking about the changing stories would indicate Napoleon actually has no idea of Snowball's location. It also benefits Napoleon to have the animals believe Snowball is still in the area so he can serve as a scapegoat for anything that goes wrong on the farm.

For what purpose does Squealer change the history of the Battle of the Cowshed in Animal Farm Chapter 7?

In an effort to further discredit Snowball, Squealer revises history to explain how Snowball's opposition to Napoleon stems from his alliance with Mr. Jones. Squealer paints Snowball as a secret agent who conspires toward the animals' defeat at the Battle of the Cowshed. The animals resist this version at first, recalling Snowball's leadership and bravery. Squealer goes on to describe how the shots Snowball took from Mr. Jones's gun were preplanned to only graze Snowball's back and how Snowball planned to lead the animals in retreat, leaving the farm to the humans. Although Napoleon had no distinct role in the battle, Squealer adds a scene in which Napoleon leaps forward to bite Jones while shouting, "Death to humanity!" This revision of history is propaganda that glorifies Napoleon and further vilifies Snowball.

How can Squealer can get away with such an obvious and total revision of history in Animal Farm Chapter 7?

Although the animals remember the events of the Battle of the Cowshed, and Snowball's role in the battle, much differently than Squealer's version of events, the pig is able to convince them his version is true. Squealer refers to secret documents that offer proof of Snowball's betrayal, which the animals accept as credible sources even though they are not allowed to see these documents themselves. Their ongoing faith in the pigs prevents them from asking such important questions. Furthermore Squealer presents his version of events with such vivid detail and so much information that the animals are convinced their memories are faulty. Boxer, the only holdout, is finally convinced simply by the use of Napoleon's name as the source of this material, so thorough is his belief in the pig. Because the animals believe so completely in Animalism, they are incapable of suspecting the pigs of manipulation, which ironically makes the animals themselves very easy for the pigs to manipulate.

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