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Free Study Guide-Animal Farm by George Orwell-Free Online Booknotes
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Chapter 5

Summary

Chapter 5 opens with Mollie being taken to task by Clover for her misbehavior. Unable to take the criticism, she disappears and is never seen by the animals again. The remaining animals then get down to business. It is decided that the Pigs should decide the farm policies, which will be ratified by a majority vote. All might have gone well if Snowball and Napoleon could have agreed; instead, they dispute every point and develop their own followings. Snowball's brilliant speeches win him the majority of support, and his followers shout "four legs good, two legs bad" at crucial moments in his speeches. Snowball very eruditely talks about field drains, silage, and laborsaving devices. Napoleon has no such plans, but claims that "Snowball's schemes would come to nothing". The biggest bone of contention between them, however, is the windmill.

After a survey, Snowball declares that a windmill would help supply the farm with electric power, which, in turn, could run fantastic machines like chaff-cutters. As always, he is interested in improving the welfare of all the animals. Within a few weeks Snowball works out the plans for the windmill. All the animals come to have a look at them except Napoleon, who slyly urinates on Snowball's masterpiece.

The farm becomes divided over the subject of the windmill. Although Snowball agrees there are difficulties with it, he believes they could all be overcome within a year. Napoleon, on the other hand, tries to divert attention from the windmill question, by stressing the need for food production. He warns that if they waste time on the windmill, everyone may starve. The animals listen to both leaders and find themselves in agreement with the one who is speaking at the moment. Snowball wants the issue of the Windmill to be put to a vote, and Napoleon calls the idea nonsense. Snowball, with his usual eloquence, is about to sway the vote in his favor when Napoleon calls his nine enormous dogs into the barn. They attack Snowball and chase him out, never to be seen again.


Napoleon mounts the platform and announces that the Sunday meetings will come to an end, except for the saluting of the flag and the singing of "Beasts of England." He also explains that a special committee will be formed to convey decisions to the masses. From this point forward in the book, Napoleon becomes the undisputed leader of the animals. Every Sunday morning, he gives his orders, and the masses file past the 'Skill of Major' reverently.

On the third Sunday following Snowball's expulsion, the animals are astonished to hear Napoleon's announcement of his plan to build a Windmill. At the news, Squealer, who is Napoleon's loyal propagandist, calms the masses with his persuasive talks, and the three dogs who happen to be with him silence every question with their menacing growls.

Notes

In this chapter, Orwell tries to portray a classic example of a dictator corrupted by power. The rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon reaches a crescendo. Snowball has won the support of the masses, in spite of Napoleon's opposition to the building of the windmill. Napoleon refuses to loose. He brings in his vicious dogs to attack Snowball, who barely escapes with his life. Everything happens so quickly that there is no resistance to Napoleon's show of power. He has planned his moves carefully. His 'Might is Right' belief and his swift takeover of power are traits of a merciless dictator who stages a successful coup. Discontinuing Sunday Meetings and group planning, defamation of the enemy, manipulated evidences, seasoned arguments, and Squealer's propaganda are the results of the rise of Napoleon to the position of an all powerful, ruthless ruler. To gain favor with his subjects, he goes forward the popular plan of the windmill, which he earlier opposed and now claims as his own.

It is ironic that Napoleon has begun to act worse than Farmer Jones, the leader he so despised. Behaving like a true dictator, he surrounds himself with bodyguards (the ferocious dogs), gives orders for the week to the animals each Sunday, convinces the masses that Snowball was an enemy all along, and digs up the skull of Old Major to serve as a symbol. On the satiric level, Napoleon's takeover is a reflection of Stalin's rise to power in Russia.

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