In the opening of Animal Farm Chapter 5, Mollie disappears after it’s discovered that she’s been communicating with people from neighbouring farms. Later the pigeons report that she was on the other side of Willingdon: “A fat red−faced man in check breeches and gaiters, who looked like a publican, was stroking her nose and feeding her with sugar.Her coat was newly clipped and she wore a scarlet ribbon round her forelock. She appeared to be enjoying herself, so the pigeons said. None of the animals ever mentioned Mollie again.”
With the farm caught in a harsh winter, the struggle between Snowball and Napoleon intensifies. They “disagreed at every point where disagreement was possible.” Snowball develops the idea of creating a windmill to generate electricity and make the lives of the animals easier. Napoleon expresses his distaste for the plans by urinating on them. As the struggle between Napoleon and Snowball continues, Benjamin declares that whatever happens, “life would go on as it had always gone on−that is, badly.”
During a meeting, the dogs that Napoleon had been secretly raising burst in and Snowball is forced to flee for his life.
Napoleon begins his leadership of the farm by declaring that the democratic Sunday meetings will be abolished. He establishes a “special committee of pigs” that he will preside over to run the farm. He tells the animals that they can still gather to salute the flag but there will be no more debates.
Squealer helps to convince the animals that these changes are for their benefit. “I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills−Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?”
Boxer is deeply troubled by the changes but assumes that Napoleon must be acting in his best interest and adopts the motto “Napoleon is always right”.
Towards the end of the chapter, Napoleon announces that his plans to continue with the construction of the windmill, claiming that it was his idea all along.
Animal Farm Chapter 5 Commentary
The interesting parallels between Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution continue. In the USSR, the leadership struggle between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky led to Trotsky’s exile in 1929. In 1940, while Trotsky was living in Mexico, was assassinated under orders by Joseph Stalin. In the novel, Snowball is never seen again. Mollie’s disappearance represents the upper middle class people who emigrated to other countries because they refused to live under communist rule. The plans to build a windmill seem to represent the rapid industrialisation that Russian underwent according to Stalin’s five year plans.
But Animal Farm is more than just a retelling of this particular point in history. It’s about how power can be abused and democracy can be eroded. Chapter V marks the beginning of Napoleon’s rule and the end of democracy on the farm. One of the interesting aspects of Animal Farm is how totalitarian governments and dictatorships maintain control over people. One of the principle ways that Napoleon maintains control is through the use of fear and terror. His vicious guard dogs – much like the SS in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s secret police the NKVD – helps to keep people in line using the threat of violence. Throughout the novel, much like real totalitarian regimes, he continues to use the dogs to intimidate his opponents. When he uses the dogs to scare Snowball away from the farm, Napoleon takes swift, anti-democratic measures to consolidate his power. Sunday meetings are abolished and all decisions are made by a special committee of pigs that he presides over. Gatherings continue but without the usual debate. Instead, the animals gather around the flag, worship the skull of Old Major and sing Beast of England. These meetings no longer about healthy democratic debate, they’re about showing subservience to Animal Farm and Napoleon.
Having expelled Snowball, Napoleon sends Squealer out to downplay his role in the Battle of Cowshed and also convince them that the Windmill was actually Napoleon’s idea. Orwell was deeply troubled by the fact that lies and propaganda could influence what’s written in history books. He expressed this sentiment in Homage to Catalonia, when recounting his involvement in the Spanish Civil War: “It will never be possible to get a completely accurate and unbiased account of the Barcelona fighting, because the necessary records do not exist. Future historians will have nothing to go upon except a mass of accusations and party propaganda. I myself have little data beyond what I saw with my own eyes and what I have learned from other eye-witnesses whom I believe to be reliable . . . This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. After all, the chances are that those lies, or at any rate similar lies, will pass into history . . . The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, ‘It never happened’ — well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five — well, two and two are five.”
Chapter 5 ends on an ominous note. After Squealer reveals that the Windmill was actually Napoleon’s idea, the dogs growl menacingly and the animals accept it “without further questions”.
Respond to the topic: Violence is the main way Napoleon takes control of the farm. Do you agree?
Use a TEEL paragraph to respond to this writing prompt.
- Topic sentence. Explain your stance on the topic. Do you agree with the assertion that violence is the only method?
- Explanation. Explain the ways that Napoleon takes control in this chapter.
- Evidence. Use short quotations from this chapter sentences of your own to support the discussion.
- Link sentence. Close off the paragraph with a sentence that links back to the topic.
Once you’ve revised the first five chapters of the novel, have a go at this quiz.
Now that you’ve read Animal Farm Chapter 5, why not check out this article and video on Chapter 6?