Animal Farm

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Snowball Character Analysis

A pig. Alongside Napoleon, one of Old Major's main disciples. Snowball is a more lively, original, and intelligent pig than Napoleon, but he is less shrewd in the ways of power. Snowball values the ideals of the revolution more than Napoleon does, though at times Snowball does seem willing to sacrifice the principle of animal equality for his own personal comfort. In the end, despite Snowball's bravery in supporting the revolution, his political naiveté is no match for Napoleon's cunning. Snowball symbolizes Trotsky, a rival of Stalin exiled from Russian and assassinated on Stalin's orders in Mexico in 1940.

Snowball Quotes in Animal Farm

The Animal Farm quotes below are all either spoken by Snowball or refer to Snowball. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of Animal Farm published in 1996.
Chapter 5 Quotes
At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws.
Related Characters: Snowball, The Dogs
Related Symbols: The Windmill
Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:

After the animals agree to pursue Snowball’s plan for the Windmill, Napoleon unleashes his dog minions. They successfully oust Snowball and allow Napoleon to implement a tyrannical regime over the other animals.

The dogs, here, represent the use of military force by political leaders to dispose of each other. Napoleon has reared the dogs (i.e. built up a secret military) in case such an instance arrives, but he delays unleashing them until the population of animals moves against his own wishes. Orwell then points out how military force is harnessed in direct opposition to democratic or socialist principles of equality. It becomes a way for leaders with more military power but less social appeal to impose their whims on the world. The specific historical parallel, here, is how in the USSR Stalin (represented by Napoleon) used force to overcome Trotsky (Snowball) after the two disagreed on the future of the country. Orwell stresses the irony of this action by showing just how clearly Napoleon’s actions—attacking another animal—violate the rules of Animalism.

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Chapter 6 Quotes
Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!
Related Characters: Napoleon (speaker), Snowball
Related Symbols: The Windmill
Page Number: 69-70
Explanation and Analysis:

After the half-finished windmill is destroyed by a storm, Napoleon investigates the rubble. He suddenly concludes, here, that Snowball destroyed it in an act of political subterfuge.

By blaming Snowball, Napoleon is able to protect his own reputation and motivate the animals to work ever-harder at rebuilding the windmill. Whereas his authority could have potentially been challenged for having recommended bad practices, attributing the destruction to Snowball renders himself both immune to criticism and necessary for the future defense of his followers. Napoleon can use the shadowy figure of "Snowball" to effectively instill fear into the animal populace.

This tactic notably parallels the way the animals motivated their revolution in the first place: by blaming a single enemy, the humans, for all their hardships. Orwell thus points out how any given political regime will gather support by selecting such an adversary—whether it be false or accurate—and organizing popular support against that foe. Developing a culture of fear around an unseen enemy allows a group to justify its tactics and explain away any negative events as the result of those enemies’ actions.

Chapter 7 Quotes
If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal.
Related Characters: Snowball
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

As the conditions on Animal Farm continue to worsen, rumors spread through Squealer that Snowball is conducting an extensive campaign against the farm. Here, all negative events are attributed to him, even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary.

Snowball here becomes less an actual agent and more of a social tool to unify the animals. That “someone was certain” to blame him indicates that the animals are not rationally responding to each negative event, but rather are immediately using Snowball as a stock response to the issue. This reaction indicates that Squealer’s propaganda campaign has successfully reordered the way the animals think about the events on the farm. They have come to see these moments as the result of neither poor leadership nor chance occurrence, but rather due to a paranoid belief in foreign espionage.

They believe this theory even in the face of direct counter-evidence, for instance when the location of the “mislaid key” clearly indicates that Snowball has not disposed of it in a well. Orwell thus makes a mockery of how willing citizens are to accept the fear-tactics of despotic regimes, such as that of the USSR. Once a single enemy has been decided upon by the leadership, the populace is apt to reinterpret all events as the result of transgressions by that enemy.

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Snowball Character Timeline in Animal Farm

The timeline below shows where the character Snowball appears in Animal Farm. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...and over the next three months two pigs in particular emerge as leaders: the lively Snowball and the powerful Napoleon. A third pig, Squealer, gives eloquent speeches that can convince anyone... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...she won't get any more sugar or be able to wear ribbons in her hair. Snowball tells her she shouldn't want sugar and ribbons, since these are signs of her slavery. (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Snowball cries out that it's time to go to the hayfield, where the animals should aim... (full context)
Chapter 3
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...to put forward resolutions and vote, but only the pigs ever come up with resolutions. Snowball and Napoleon are the most active debaters, but they almost never agree. (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Snowball soon starts setting up committees such as the Whiter Wool Committee to improve life on... (full context)
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The sheep can't read or memorize the Seven Commandments. To help them, Snowball summarizes all of Animalism with the single phrase "Four legs good, two legs bad." Soon... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Napoleon sees little value in Snowball's committees, but he says he believes in the importance of educating the young. When two... (full context)
Chapter 4
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
It's late summer and news of the revolution at Animal Farm spreads. Snowball and Napoleon send out flights of pigeons to teach "Beasts of England" to the animals... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
...that Jones, along with men from Pilkington and Frederick, are headed to attack the farm. Snowball has a defense planned out: he draws the men into an ambush, then leads the... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
...that one of his kicks seems to have killed a stable boy. To console him, Snowball responds that the only good man is a dead man. Just then the animals realize... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
As the animals bury the sheep, Snowball emphasizes that animals must be willing to die to defend Animal Farm. Snowball and Boxer... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
In the Sunday meetings, Snowball and Napoleon now argue about everything. The most intense point of disagreement between the two... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The animals take sides: some support Snowball's windmill, while others favor Napoleon and food production. Only Benjamin refuses to join sides, observing... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Snowball finally finishes his plans for the windmill. The next Sunday the animals gather to vote.... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Just as Snowball finishes speaking, Napoleon makes an odd whimpering sound. Suddenly nine vicious dogs, the dogs Napoleon... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...the animals might make the wrong decisions. Squealer also says it was recently discovered that Snowball was a criminal. When the animals say Snowball fought bravely at the Battle of the... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...the windmill after all. Squealer explains: Napoleon opposed the windmill just to get rid of Snowball, who was a bad influence on everyone. The animals accept this explanation, especially since Squealer... (full context)
Chapter 6
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...He looks worried and his tail wiggles as if he's thinking fast. Suddenly Napoleon shouts "SNOWBALL!" He announces that Snowball destroyed the windmill. The animals are shocked and furious that Snowball... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...either Pilkington or Frederick. Whenever he's close to a deal with Pilkington, rumors circulate that Snowball is hiding at Frederick's farm, and vice versa. (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
In addition, Squealer soon announces that Snowball has been sneaking onto Animal Farm at night: Napoleon can smell him. Squealer tells the... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Boxer disagrees. He says he thinks Snowball was loyal at the beginning, even if he later turned traitor. When Squealer responds that... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...gather, Napoleon whimpers and his dogs attack Boxer and the four pigs that had questioned Snowball's removal. The pigs are bloodied, but Boxer repels the attack and pins one of the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...takes place. Napoleon, the only candidate, wins unanimously. On the same day, it's announced that Snowball fought openly against the animals at the Battle of the Cowshed. (full context)