Animal Farm

Animal Farm Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The animals work like slaves that year, but they’re happy knowing that humans won’t profit from their efforts. They work 60-hour weeks through the summer, and in August, Napoleon announces that they’ll work on Sunday afternoons. This is voluntary, but animals who don’t work Sundays will see reduced rations. The harvest is less successful this year and mishaps mean that the animals missed planting certain crops. The winter is guaranteed to be difficult.
This work on Sunday is clearly voluntary in name only, but because the other animals are so poorly educated and devoted to the cause, they can’t parse out that voluntary doesn’t actually mean anything here. Further, by focusing on the idea that humans won’t profit from their work, the pigs can instead direct attention to the cause.
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Construction on the windmill proves difficult as well. There’s a quarry on the farm and a stash of other building materials, but the animals cannot break the rocks in the quarry without standing on their hind legs. After a few weeks, the animals begin hauling huge boulders to the top of the quarry and toppling them over the edge to shatter. The horses, sheep, Muriel, and Benjamin all haul stone to the site of the windmill. The process is exhausting. Boxer seems stronger than ever; he singlehandedly keeps the other animals from sliding back down the hill, begins getting up 45 minutes before everyone else to work, and carries loads of stone to the windmill alone. He ignores Clover’s warnings to not strain himself.
When Boxer throws himself into the windmill project, it shows how thoroughly hoodwinked he is into thinking that he must sacrifice his own wellbeing for the wellbeing of the state—in other words, he’s being encouraged to put national interest above his own, with results that the novel shows later are disastrous. That Boxer is so instrumental to this process, however, means that he looks like the ideal worker to other animals, who will likely try to emulate his actions.
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The summer is reasonable for the animals. They don’t have more food than they had under Mr. Jones, but they don’t have less. The animals find that their methods of performing tasks are more efficient than human methods, and since the animals don’t steal, they don’t have to worry about maintaining fences and hedges. Despite all of this, late in the summer, the animals realize they need things like oil, nails, dog biscuits, and horseshoes. Later, they’ll need tools, machinery, and seeds. Nobody knows how to get these things. One Sunday morning, Napoleon announces that Animal Farm will trade with the neighboring farms for the items they need. He’s going to sell hay, wheat, and later, possibly eggs. Napoleon tells the hens that they should welcome this sacrifice.
The problem with an isolated state, the novel shows, is that it’s impossible to create everything the state needs—thus, it will at some point become necessary to trade with others. Remember, however, that trading with neighboring farms would technically be forbidden by Old Major, as he made it very clear that the animals shouldn’t have common interests with humans—and trading with them qualifies as such. This shows, then, how those ideals are consistently being corrupted as the needs of the state evolve.
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The other animals are vaguely uneasy, as they remember the Seven Commandments stating that the animals shouldn’t engage in trade or use money. The four young pigs speak up timidly, but the growling dogs silence them, and the sheep begin bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad!” Napoleon explains that the animals won’t have to see much of the humans, as he’s hired a solicitor named Mr. Whymper to deal with their affairs. After the meeting, Squealer sets everyone at ease by telling them privately that they must all be imagining that they can’t engage in trade or use money, but that this was just a rumor started by Snowball. This is comforting for the animals to hear.
That Mr. Whymper wants to work for Napoleon and Animal Farm in the first place speaks to how much there is to gain by trading with a state like Animal Farm—he doesn’t have to agree with any of its ideology in order to make a buck. By offering Mr. Whymper as a character, Orwell is able to critique the capitalist countries and individuals who got rich working with the USSR while ignoring the humanitarian atrocities. Blaming Snowball for the rumors, meanwhile, saves Napoleon from having to admit how hypocritical and corrupt he’s becoming.
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Mr. Whymper visits every Monday. The animals avoid him as much as possible, but they do pridefully watch Napoleon—on four legs—giving orders to a two-legged human. Other humans hate Animal Farm more than ever. They all believe that Animal Farm will go bankrupt at some point and that the windmill will fail—but against their will, they do develop a grudging respect for the animals’ efficiency. They even begin to call it Animal Farm instead of Manor Farm. Rumors circulate that Napoleon is going to strike a deal with either Mr. Pilkington or Mr. Frederick, but not with both.
No matter how corrupt it may be for Napoleon to go against the Seven Commandments and hire Mr. Whymper, the fact remains that this is still a great public relations stunt for him to be seen in such a powerful position over a human. This has the effect of both boosting his reputation and prestige at home, as well as legitimizing him and Animal Farm in the eyes of the neighboring farms (as represented by the farmers’ willingness to call the farm Animal Farm).
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About this time, the pigs move into the farmhouse. Squealer circulates to assure everyone that it’s not actually true that there was a resolution forbidding animals living inside—it’s necessary, since the pigs are the brains of the farm, for them to have a quiet place to work. Referring to Napoleon as “Leader,” Squealer also insists that it’s more dignified for Napoleon to live in a house. Despite Squealer’s insistences, some animals are disturbed to learn that the pigs eat in the kitchen and sleep in the beds. Boxer brushes this off, but Clover remembers that there was a rule against sleeping in beds. She asks Muriel to read her the commandment about beds to confirm, but it now reads that no animal will sleep in a bed with sheets. Clover doesn’t remember this, but since it’s in writing, she reasons that it must’ve always been this way.
Notice how Squealer frames his argument: the pigs are doing such important and necessary work for the farm that they don’t just deserve, but truly need to live in the luxury of the farmhouse. Essentially, he insists that the pigs have to be corrupt and continue to improve the markers of their class by moving into the farmhouse, while the other animals remain hungry and living in the barns. When Clover decides everything is fine since the Commandment is in writing, it shows how easy it is to dupe an uneducated population with a poor memory—there’s little understanding that just because something’s in writing doesn’t make it true.
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Squealer, accompanied by a few dogs, passes by and helps put things in perspective for Clover. He points out that there never was a ruling against beds, since the word “bed” just refers to a place to sleep. Sheets are the problem, as they’re a human invention. He assures Clover that the beds are only as comfortable as they need, and the pigs need their sleep since they need to keep their wits about them—if they don’t, Mr. Jones might return. Knowing that Mr. Jones’s return would be disastrous, the animals agree with Squealer and say nothing when days later, the pigs announce that they’ll get up an hour later than everyone else.
Though Squealer is clearly splitting hairs here when he makes the distinction between beds and sheets, it feels impossible for Clover to push back at all because of the dogs. This shows how the fear and violence of an organization like the secret police (as represented by the dogs) allows powerful individuals to not have to make total sense in what they say, since what they say doesn’t really matter that much. Because of the threat the dogs pose, Squealer could say almost anything, and nobody would object.
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The animals are tired but happy when fall arrives. The stores of food for the winter are low after the sale of the hay and corn, but the windmill is almost halfway done and that bolsters their spirits. After the harvest, the animals dedicate themselves to building up the walls of the windmill. Boxer even spends hours at night working alone, and everyone except Benjamin spends their spare time admiring the structure. In November, however, a storm blows through. One morning, the animals wake and see that the windmill is in ruins. They run to the windmill and mournfully look at the fallen stone.
Pay attention to the fact that the animals are looking at a very lean winter, but yet, feel good because of the windmill. In this sense, the windmill comes to represent the state and how it refocuses attention onto its strengths to detract from very real problems within it. The storm destroying the windmill foreshadows what’s to come: the windmill and the things it promises will be far more difficult to achieve.
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Napoleon rushes to the site and snuffles around sharply. He suddenly stops and quietly says that Snowball came in at night and destroyed the windmill. Napoleon sentences Snowball to death and announces rewards for anyone who captures him. They discover pig prints leading to a hole in the hedge near Foxwood, and Napoleon declares that they’re Snowball’s. He cries that they must build all winter to show Snowball up.
Blaming the windmill’s destruction on Snowball is a smart move for Napoleon, as it means that nobody is going to blame him for shoddy planning and not having a plan B. Further, he’s then able to use this deflection to unite the animals against Snowball as a common enemy—and in doing so, comes up with a way to convince the animals to work even harder in support of the state.
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