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Animal Farm | Discussion Questions 31 - 40

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How do Napoleon's public appearance and title change, and what is the purpose of these changes in Animal Farm Chapter 8?

After Napoleon has been in power for some time, he appears in public less frequently, always accompanied by his dogs. He also adds a rooster to his entourage to herald his appearance wherever he goes. Napoleon further issues an order that Mr. Jones's rifle is to be fired on his birthday and publicizes a poem by the pig poet Minimus called "Comrade Napoleon." He insists that he be referred to only by his full title—Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon—and adopts a host of other titles, including Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, and Ducklings' Friend. The animals do not see him performing ordinary activities such as eating and sleeping. All these actions solidify Napoleon's power by increasing his mystique, making him appear important and deserving of special attention, while the new titles make him appear an ally to all animals, right down to the ducklings. In some ways, Napoleon's insistence on ceremony makes him worse than Mr. Jones because Jones never insisted on this kind of adulation.

What is the significance of Napoleon's ordering the poem about him painted on the barn wall in Animal Farm Chapter 8?

Napoleon orders the poem praising him, "Comrade Napoleon," painted on the barn wall opposite the Seven Commandments to indicate he thinks himself as important as the Seven Commandments in the animals' lives. In conjunction with all the ways the pigs have secretly changed the Seven Commandments, this action puts Napoleon in a position to replace the commandments altogether. Because the animals can't read the poem, the act of painting the poem on the barn wall is largely symbolic, but the outline of Napoleon's profile with the poem serves as a reminder of their leader's greatness. The strategy of using large posters of the leader's image is a common practice for many totalitarian dictators, including Joseph Stalin, because it serves as a reminder to the populace that their leader looms large and is always watching.

How do the cruelties described in Animal Farm Chapter 8 that take place on Mr. Frederick's farm serve as a parallel to the Holocaust?

Scholars generally regard Napoleon's negotiations with Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington in Chapter 8 as analogous to Stalin's negotiations with Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill in the years before World War II. In Chapter 8 rumors circulate about Frederick's farm in the same way rumors of the death camps circulated outside Nazi Germany. The rumors about the starved cows reflect the starvation conditions prevalent in the camps, and the flogging of an old horse recalls stories of camp inmates executed when they could no longer work. Mr. Frederick is said to have killed a dog by throwing it into a furnace, which is a clear parallel to the crematoriums of the Nazi death camps. The animals on the farm are appalled by these stories, as were the Soviet people when they heard these rumors. The animals come to hate and fear Frederick, even while they distrust Mr. Pilkington, just as the Soviet people hated and feared Hitler while distrusting Churchill.

How is Mr. Frederick's use of counterfeit bank notes to pay Napoleon for the timber in Animal Farm Chapter 8 an example of situational irony?

After playing Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick off on each other to get Frederick to meet his terms, Napoleon is incredibly proud of his own negotiation skills and his savvy business sense. The animals are likewise proud of their leader when he insists on a cash payment because he distrusts the promise of a check. Throughout the negotiation Napoleon seems to be in control of events and wisely on the lookout for any sort of scam either Frederick or Pilkington might pull. He also has no problem double-crossing Mr. Pilkington, although he comes to regret this act during the Battle of the Windmill. However, after all of Napoleon's careful preparation and caution, his pride has blinded him, and he has not been careful enough: Frederick still manages to cheat him because the pig does not consider the possibility of counterfeit money and fails to protect himself against that eventuality.

What is actually happening when Comrade Napoleon is supposedly dying at the end of Animal Farm Chapter 8?

Shortly after the Battle of the Windmill, the pigs find a crate of whisky in the farmhouse and drink it. This is the pigs' first experience with alcohol, and it affects them strongly, as evidenced by the undignified incident that the animals witness when Napoleon emerges from the house that night wearing Mr. Jones's bowler hat and galloping around the yard. The pigs' inexperience with drinking also causes them to assume Napoleon is dying when he wakes the next morning with a hangover. The pigs go so far as to suspect Napoleon has been poisoned, but when they later issue an edict that drinking alcohol shall be punishable by death, they appear to have figured out the cause of his discomfort. In an example of situational irony, by the time Napoleon recovers, he has decided the pigs will sow barley for use in brewing, and, of course, the Fifth Commandment is changed to read, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."

What evidence from Animal Farm Chapter 8, and elsewhere in the novel shows that Benjamin is something of a villain?

Although Benjamin does not actively exploit the other animals as the pigs do, his powers of observation in Chapter 8 serve as a reminder that he understands much more of the events around him than he lets on, although he does nothing to try to limit the pigs' influence or empower the other animals on the farm. During the Battle of the Windmill, Benjamin realizes, before any of the other animals including Napoleon, that Mr. Frederick and his men mean to blow up the windmill. Napoleon believes the windmill is impossible to destroy; Benjamin's observation shows he may be even cleverer than the pigs. For the first time, Benjamin speaks up about what he is seeing, even though it is too late to stop Frederick. This moment when Benjamin speaks up calls forth all the times when he has almost surely observed other other dangers and abuses but done nothing. It raises the question of what life could have been like if Benjamin had only been more active on the farm after the revolution.

Why are the pigs correct to say that the Battle of the Windmill is a victory in Animal Farm Chapter 8?

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Windmill, the animals are shocked when Squealer and the other pigs declare the battle a victory and feel there is cause to celebrate. While the glorification and firing of the gun are heavy-handed propaganda tactics designed to distract the animals from the heavy losses they have suffered, the pigs' core message is valid. By repelling Mr. Frederick's attack, the animals have managed to hold on to their farm, which is a significant achievement. Because they have their farm, they have the option to rebuild the windmill, even though the task is daunting. And they have not fallen under the control of Mr. Frederick, a man they fear and a human who has proven himself dishonest. In a strange paradox, the animals, outnumbered and outgunned, find the resolve to defeat Frederick's forces only because they are enraged by the windmill's destruction. The problem with the pigs' response in the aftermath is not that they celebrate, but that they do so in such an excessive way by drinking, obviously breaking one of the commandments that they claim to have worked so hard to define.

How is Napoleon able to turn the Battle of the Windmill to his personal advantage in Animal Farm Chapter 8?

After the Battle of the Windmill, Napoleon creates a new honor for distinguished service, the Order of the Green Banner, a reference to the farm's flag. Despite the hard fighting of many other animals during the battle, including that by Boxer, who suffers an injury that will ultimately shorten his life, and the loss of a number of animals who die in the conflict, Napoleon awards the honor to himself only. Napoleon's decision to trust Mr. Frederick brings about the battle in the first place, yet Napoleon uses the opportunity to confer still more glory upon himself. Luckily, the funerals and celebrations after the battle provide a distraction from Napoleon's oversight in his dealing with Frederick, which might have led to a weakening of his image and power. Instead he manages to use the event to strengthen his hold on the farm.

How do the aftereffects of the Battle of the Windmill lead directly to Boxer's death in Animal Farm Chapter 9?

During the Battle of the Windmill, Boxer splits a hoof during the fighting, a serious injury for a horse. Rather than rest even a little or back off on his workload while he heals, Boxer continues to follow his maxim of "I will work harder." With the windmill destroyed during the battle, Boxer feels obligated to continue hauling stone. His strength makes the building of the first two windmills possible, so Boxer feels an obligation to continue. Between his injured hoof and his age, Boxer's strength is not what it once was, and his lungs give way while he is hauling stone to the building site. Once this happens and Boxer can no longer work, his life on the farm will not last long.

To keep the animals compliant in Animal Farm Chapter 9 what propaganda tactic does Squealer use most, and why?

Each week Squealer presents reams of numbers and statistics to prove how much better the animals' lives are in every way, from the volume of their rations to the number of fleas in their stalls. The actual figures or the animals' ability to understand the numbers are secondary to the sheer volume of information Squealer presents. The animals believe him because he seems to have proof, and the animals don't really remember much about life with Mr. Jones, so they cannot compare their current life with their past. Squealer's techniques show both how data can be manipulated to prove almost any point and how the public often accepts seemingly expert opinions over its own experience.

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