Animal Farm Chapter 8 begins after the brutal and bloody executions when the animals remember the sixth commandment and visit the barn to read what it says. Painted on the side of the barn are the words: “”No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE.” The animals assume that the two words at the end had slipped from their memory.
The animals’ lives continue to grow more miserable and it often seems that they are worse off than when Farmer Jones ran the farm. Squealer steps in and convinces them otherwise: “On Sunday mornings Squealer, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent, or five hundred per cent, as the case might be. The animals saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember very clearly what conditions had been like before the Rebellion.”
The poet Minimus writes a poem called ‘Comrade Napoleon’ and he is praised for all of the good things that happen on the farm.
More hens are executed after confessing that they were in league with Snowball. Rumours start to spread that animals are tortured and starved at Pinchfield: “Moreover, terrible stories were leaking out from Pinchfield about the cruelties that Frederick practised upon his animals. He had flogged an old horse to death, he starved his cows, he had killed a dog by throwing it into the furnace, he amused himself in the evenings by making cocks fight with splinters of razor-blade tied to their spurs.” These rumours compel the animals to side with Napoleon despite the increasingly miserable conditions that they’re living in.
The windmill is completed but eventually destroyed when Frederick and his men invade the farm again. Although the animals are dispirited by The Battle of Windmill, Squealer soon whips them into a patriotic frenzy with songs and ceremonies: “Two whole days were given over to celebrations. There were songs, speeches, and more firing of the gun, and a special gift of an apple was bestowed on every animal, with two ounces of corn for each bird and three biscuits for each dog. It was announced that the battle would be called the Battle of the Windmill, and that Napoleon had created a new decoration, the Order of the Green Banner, which he had conferred upon himself.”
Napoleon suffers a hangover after the pigs discover a case of whiskey in the farmhouse. The animals are shocked to hear that he’s feeling unwell and are further dismayed when he orders books on brewing and that the small paddock behind the orchard, set aside for the older animals, is sewn with barley. The chapter ends with the animals discovering another changed to the Seven Commandments: ”No animal shall drink alcohol TO EXCESS.”
Animal Farm Chapter 8 Commentary
In this chapter, the pigs continue to change the tenets of Animalism to suit their own needs and continue to manipulate and exploit the other animals who gradually start to realise that their lives are no different to the days of Farmer Jones.
Dictators often give themselves grand titles. Military dictator of Uganda Idi Amin adopted the title His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular. In Animal Farm, Napoleon insists that he is referred to in a formal style as “our leader, Comrade Napoleon”. The pigs on the farm also call Napoleon by other names including Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold and Ducklings’ Friend.
The propaganda in dictatorships often praises the leader, creating what is known as a ‘cult of personality’ in which the leader develops an almost god-like reputation. The poem that Minimus writes is inscribed on the barn next to the Seven Commandments. Squealer also paints a portrait of Comrade Napoleon. These type of images are frequently used in dictatorships to create the impression that the leader is extremely powerful.
The pigs convince the other animals that their defeat at The Battle of Windmill is a victory. As this chapter closes, the pigs continue to take more and more for themselves and continuing to erode the tenets of Animalism by surreptitiously changing the fifth commandment to, “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.” These changes illustrate Orwell’s disillusionment with the revolution that occurred in Russia and the way the country quickly descended into totalitarianism and corrupting the vision of society of free and equal human beings. This chapter also touches on the idea of perpetual war and how ongoing war can help to solidify support for the ruling government. Political activist Noam Chomsky argues that a state of perpetual war promotes the interest of the dominant political and economic classes. In Animal Farm, the perpetual fighting with other farms seems to galvanise support for the pigs. This idea of perpetual war is one that Orwell developed further in 1984 when he wrote: “The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.” In this sense, war is just another tool of oppression.
For this chapter, respond to the following topic: A cult of personality is constructed around Napoleon which helps to solidify his power. Do you agree?
Use TEEL structure when you write your response:
- Topic sentence. Explain your stance on the topic. What is a cult of personality and how does it apply to Napoleon?
- Explanation. Explain the ways the pigs create the impression that Napoleon is more than just another animal.
- 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.