Short Answer Questions

1. At the Battle of Cowshed in Chapter 4, the animals defend themselves gallantly and think nothing of risking their lives for the farm.  This seems ironic because, though the animals could not have predicted the future, the reader can see the implications of the events to come.  Later on in the story, this farm that they have taken bullets for becomes a dictatorial society.  Napoleon, his personal guard force, and the other pigs terrorize the animals with threats of execution, reduced rations, and blackmail.  This picture of the future could not have been the ideal image that the animals had in their minds when they fought.  They were fighting for Old Major’s dream of green pastures where all animals work and live in harmony; where everyone has leisure time to enjoy their lives, and above all, where humans have vanished: an animal utopia.  Unfortunately, events took a downward turn because of the pigs’ greed and the irony of the situation strikes the reader like a punch in the face.  The animals risked their lives fighting for the farm, ridding it of humans, only to be treated as badly or worse by fellow animals as compared to when the humans were in control.

2. Napoleon certainly “rewrites history” in Orwell’s Animal Farm through the pig Squealer.  Squealer, on the orders of Napoleon, manages to convince the ignorant animals that certain events did or did not happen.  The main examples concern Snowball’s role in the Battle of Cowshed and the original Seven Commandments.  After the expulsion of Snowball, Napoleon attempts to convince the animals that Snowball had been evil from the start.  Squealer spreads the fact that Snowball retreated in the face of the enemy, which is true, but then neglects to mention that the retreat was part of the overall strategy to defeat Mr. Jones and that he fearlessly led a charge back into battle.  Later on, as the pigs adopted more and more human behavior that had been originally banned in the Seven Commandments, Squealer paints in on the wall subtle differences to make the pigs’ acts acceptable.  Then he makes the rounds in the farmhouse, convincing the animals of the validity and reasonability of the pigs’ behavior.

3. The building of the windmill in The Animal Farm was meant to create less work for animals and allow them luxuries like heat and light in their stalls.  Likewise, Stalin’s five-year plans were meant to develop and strengthen the economy.  However, though the five-year plans succeeded in the long run, many problems arose in the implementation of them.  Stalin had to make use of violence and exile to force the people to obey him.  Millions of peasants died, creating a great famine throughout the country.  In the Animal Farm, the building of the windmill also has many setbacks.  At the end of Chapter 6, the windmill is blown down by the fierce storm.  Later on, Frederick and his men blow up the windmill with blasting powder.  Eventually, the windmill is completed, but it is not used to generate electricity to heat or light the stalls.  It is used to mill corn, which greatly increases the profits or economic production of the farm.

4.  Stalin’s purges in the 1930’s were acts of senseless violence and cruelty.  Likewise in The Animal Farm, Napoleon brutally slaughters animals for a corrupt cause.  Stalin brought thousands of Bolsheviks to trial and execution because of crimes against the Soviet state.  He also used torture to force false confessions.  Orwell does not show the torture that Napoleon must have inflicted, but it is obvious that he did do so, for otherwise, the animals would not have openly stepped up to confess to crimes they did not commit.  It is ironic that these animals whom Napoleon owes his position are killed without remorse or mercy.

5. The reason that Napoleon fabricated for the fact that “Beasts of England” was being banned was that it was a song of Rebellion and it was no longer needed, for all enemies were defeated and the ideal society had been created.  However, the logical step if the rebellion was really over would be to continue to sing “Beasts of England” as a remembrance of the past and a rejoicing for the future.  Obviously, the song was banned for other reasons.  The real reason is also based on the fact that the “Beasts of England” sings of a perfect world for animals and calls for rebellion until that world is attained.  Napoleon is afraid.  He is afraid that the animals may actually look at the meaning of the lyrics in the song and see that the Animal Farm is far from the golden land that the “Beasts of England” mentions.  He is frightened that the animals may realize that further rebellion to overthrow him is needed in order to achieve utopia.  He wants to keep his dictatorial rule because he is revered and is given luxuries, and he is terrorized by the fact that the “Beasts of England” may incite even these dull farm animals to overthrow his reign. 

6. The original anthem, the “Beasts of England” sang of golden days to come, of the endless possibilities when “Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown” and animals would have “riches more than mind can picture” (22,23).  It also calls for a revolution to bring about this golden future.  In the poem “Comrade Napoleon,” Minimus extols the qualities of Napoleon.  He writes of the wonderful things that the animals on the farm have, which is obviously untrue because the animals are starving and working themselves to death.  The two anthems provide a direct contrast because one speaks of working towards a goal, while the other one praises the current conditions and the one “responsible” for it all.

7. Napoleon allowed Moses to return to the farm for self-serving purposes.  Moses was a preacher of a better life after death.  He told all the animals of Sugercandy Mountain, where “poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours” and eat from the “everlasting fields of clover and the linseed cake and lump sugar growing on the hedges” (109).  Napoleon only allows this nonsense to be preached in the farm because it is good for the morale of the animals to believe that they are destined for something better in the afterlife.  They will not dwell on the unfairness of their current life if they believe that a better life is waiting.  The animals believe that Fate decreed that they should have this hard life now in order to deserve the better life later.  This way, the animals will not blame the pigs for their hardships and try to overthrow Napoleon.

8. In Old Major’s speech, he said that under Jones, “no animal (would escape) the cruel knife in the end” and “even you Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds” (20).  He also spoke about a rebellion to prevent these circumstances from occurring.  The rebellion took place, but alas, Boxer’s fate was not averted.  In fact, his fate was exactly as Old Major described it, except that Jones is replaced by Napoleon.  It seems ironic that despite the fact that they are now “free” animals, their fates are still controlled by a single being; Jones in the past, Napoleon now.

9. Squealer is the official propagandist for Napoleon’s regime.  Throughout the story, Squealer is the one that is sent out to the barn to persuade the animals to see the subject a certain way, or to reassure them that actions taken are really for their best interest.  All that Squealer says are half-truths spun in a certain way that it makes the animals believe in the cause, or downright lies.  What he says has very little meaning but is used to stay in complete control of the ignorant animals.  After Napoleon makes a decision or announcement, it is Squealer that goes to the animals, answers any questions, explains any confusion, and frisks about until the animals give up trying to resist and believe in the explanation given.  Using Squealer, Napoleon was able to rewrite history, convince the animals that Snowball is in league with Jones and had been since the beginning, and make them believe that he did not send Boxer to his death.