Mr. Briggs – George Orwell’s “Animal Farm: Chapter 5”

This page is being annotated by Mr. Briggs's class. If you are not one of his or her students, please join us in annotating the public edition of the text.
PYONG!
0

You pyonged “Mr. Briggs – George Orwell’s “Anima...”

Save Note No Thanks
Follow
Caution: You are now annotating this song as

As winter drew on, Mollie became more and more troublesome. She was late

for work every morning and excused herself by saying that she had

overslept, and she complained of mysterious pains, although her appetite

was excellent. On every kind of pretext she would run away from work and

go to the drinking pool, where she would stand foolishly gazing at her own

reflection in the water. But there were also rumours of something more

serious. One day, as Mollie strolled blithely into the yard, flirting her

long tail and chewing at a stalk of hay, Clover took her aside.

"Mollie," she said, "I have something very serious to say to you. This

morning I saw you looking over the hedge that divides Animal Farm from

Foxwood. One of Mr. Pilkington's men was standing on the other side of the

hedge. And--I was a long way away, but I am almost certain I saw this--he

was talking to you and you were allowing him to stroke your nose. What

does that mean, Mollie?"

"He didn't! I wasn't! It isn't true!" cried Mollie, beginning to prance

about and paw the ground.

"Mollie! Look me in the face. Do you give me your word of honour that that

man was not stroking your nose?"

"It isn't true!" repeated Mollie, but she could not look Clover in the

face, and the next moment she took to her heels and galloped away into the

field.

A thought struck Clover. Without saying anything to the others, she went

to Mollie's stall and turned over the straw with her hoof. Hidden under

the straw was a little pile of lump sugar and several bunches of ribbon of

different colours.

Three days later Mollie disappeared. For some weeks nothing was known of

her whereabouts, then the pigeons reported that they had seen her on the

other side of Willingdon. She was between the shafts of a smart dogcart

painted red and black, which was standing outside a public-house. 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.

In January there came bitterly hard weather. The earth was like iron, and

nothing could be done in the fields. Many meetings were held in the big

barn, and the pigs occupied themselves with planning out the work of the

coming season. It had come to be accepted that the pigs, who were

manifestly cleverer than the other animals, should decide all questions of

farm policy, though their decisions had to be ratified by a majority vote.

This arrangement would have worked well enough if it had not been for the

disputes between Snowball and Napoleon. These two disagreed at every point

where disagreement was possible. If one of them suggested sowing a bigger

acreage with barley, the other was certain to demand a bigger acreage of

oats, and if one of them said that such and such a field was just right

for cabbages, the other would declare that it was useless for anything

except roots. Each had his own following, and there were some violent

debates. At the Meetings Snowball often won over the majority by his

brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for

himself in between times. He was especially successful with the sheep. Of

late the sheep had taken to bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad" both

in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this. It

was noticed that they were especially liable to break into "Four legs

good, two legs bad" at crucial moments in Snowball's speeches. Snowball

had made a close study of some back numbers of the 'Farmer and

Stockbreeder' which he had found in the farmhouse, and was full of plans

for innovations and improvements. He talked learnedly about field drains,

silage, and basic slag, and had worked out a complicated scheme for all

the animals to drop their dung directly in the fields, at a different spot

every day, to save the labour of cartage. Napoleon produced no schemes of

his own, but said quietly that Snowball's would come to nothing, and

seemed to be biding his time. But of all their controversies, none was so

bitter as the one that took place over the windmill.

In the long pasture, not far from the farm buildings, there was a small

knoll which was the highest point on the farm. After surveying the ground,

Snowball declared that this was just the place for a windmill, which could

be made to operate a dynamo and supply the farm with electrical power.

This would light the stalls and warm them in winter, and would also run a

circular saw, a chaff-cutter, a mangel-slicer, and an electric milking

machine.
The animals had never heard of anything of this kind before

(for the farm was an old-fashioned one and had only the most primitive

machinery), and they listened in astonishment while Snowball conjured up

pictures of fantastic machines which would do their work for them while

they grazed at their ease in the fields or improved their minds with

reading and conversation.

Within a few weeks Snowball's plans for the windmill were fully worked

out. The mechanical details came mostly from three books which had

belonged to Mr. Jones--'One Thousand Useful Things to Do About the House',

'Every Man His Own Bricklayer', and 'Electricity for Beginners'. Snowball

used as his study a shed which had once been used for incubators and had a

smooth wooden floor, suitable for drawing on. He was closeted there for

hours at a time. With his books held open by a stone, and with a piece of

chalk gripped between the knuckles of his trotter, he would move rapidly

to and fro, drawing in line after line and uttering little whimpers of

excitement. Gradually the plans grew into a complicated mass of cranks and

cog-wheels, covering more than half the floor, which the other animals

found completely unintelligible but very impressive. All of them came to

look at Snowball's drawings at least once a day. Even the hens and ducks

came, and were at pains not to tread on the chalk marks. Only Napoleon

held aloof. He had declared himself against the windmill from the start.

One day, however, he arrived unexpectedly to examine the plans. He walked

heavily round the shed, looked closely at every detail of the plans and

snuffed at them once or twice, then stood for a little while contemplating

them out of the corner of his eye; then suddenly he lifted his leg,

urinated over the plans, and walked out without uttering a word.

The whole farm was deeply divided on the subject of the windmill. Snowball

did not deny that to build it would be a difficult business. Stone would

have to be carried and built up into walls, then the sails would have to

be made and after that there would be need for dynamos and cables. (How

these were to be procured, Snowball did not say.) But he maintained that

it could all be done in a year. And thereafter, he declared, so much

labour would be saved that the animals would only need to work three days

a week. Napoleon, on the other hand, argued that the great need of the

moment was to increase food production, and that if they wasted time on

the windmill they would all starve to death. The animals formed themselves

into two factions under the slogan, "Vote for Snowball and the three-day

week" and "Vote for Napoleon and the full manger." Benjamin was the only

animal who did not side with either faction. He refused to believe either

that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save

work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always

gone on--that is, badly.

Apart from the disputes over the windmill, there was the question of the

defence of the farm. It was fully realised that though the human beings

had been defeated in the Battle of the Cowshed they might make another and

more determined attempt to recapture the farm and reinstate Mr. Jones.

They had all the more reason for doing so because the news of their defeat

had spread across the countryside and made the animals on the neighbouring

farms more restive than ever. As usual, Snowball and Napoleon were in

disagreement. According to Napoleon, what the animals must do was to

procure firearms and train themselves in the use of them. According to

Snowball, they must send out more and more pigeons and stir up rebellion

among the animals on the other farms. The one argued that if they could

not defend themselves they were bound to be conquered, the other argued

that if rebellions happened everywhere they would have no need to defend

themselves. The animals listened first to Napoleon, then to Snowball, and

could not make up their minds which was right; indeed, they always found

themselves in agreement with the one who was speaking at the moment.

At last the day came when Snowball's plans were completed. At the Meeting

on the following Sunday the question of whether or not to begin work on

the windmill was to be put to the vote. When the animals had assembled in

the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by

bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building

of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly

that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it,

and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and

seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced. At this Snowball

sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, who had begun bleating

again, broke into a passionate appeal in favour of the windmill. Until now

the animals had been about equally divided in their sympathies, but in a

moment Snowball's eloquence had carried them away. In glowing sentences he

painted a picture of Animal Farm as it might be when sordid labour was

lifted from the animals' backs. His imagination had now run far beyond

chaff-cutters and turnip-slicers. Electricity, he said, could operate

threshing machines, ploughs, harrows, rollers, and reapers and binders,

besides supplying every stall with its own electric light, hot and cold

water, and an electric heater. By the time he had finished speaking, there

was no doubt as to which way the vote would go. But just at this moment

Napoleon stood up and, casting a peculiar sidelong look at Snowball,

uttered a high-pitched whimper of a kind no one had ever heard him utter

before.

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. In a moment he was out of the door and they

were after him. Too amazed and frightened to speak, all the animals

crowded through the door to watch the chase. Snowball was racing across

the long pasture that led to the road. He was running as only a pig can

run, but the dogs were close on his heels. Suddenly he slipped and it

seemed certain that they had him. Then he was up again, running faster

than ever, then the dogs were gaining on him again. One of them all but

closed his jaws on Snowball's tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in

time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare,

slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more.

Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment

the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine

where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they

were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and

reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as

fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that

they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been

used to do to Mr. Jones.

Napoleon, with the dogs following him, now mounted on to the raised

portion of the floor where Major had previously stood to deliver his

speech. He announced that from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would

come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future

all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a

special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in

private and afterwards communicate their decisions to the others. The

animals would still assemble on Sunday mornings to salute the flag, sing

'Beasts of England', and receive their orders for the week; but there would

be no more debates.

In spite of the shock that Snowball's expulsion had given them, the

animals were dismayed by this announcement. Several of them would have

protested if they could have found the right arguments. Even Boxer was

vaguely troubled. He set his ears back, shook his forelock several times,

and tried hard to marshal his thoughts; but in the end he could not think

of anything to say. Some of the pigs themselves, however, were more

articulate. Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of

disapproval, and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking

at once. But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep,

menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. Then the

sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs

bad!" which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any

chance of discussion.

Afterwards Squealer was sent round the farm to explain the new arrangement

to the others.

"Comrades," he said, "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?"

"He fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed," said somebody.

"Bravery is not enough," said Squealer. "Loyalty and obedience are more

important. And as to the Battle of the Cowshed, I believe the time will

come when we shall find that Snowball's part in it was much exaggerated.

Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watchword for today.

One false step, and our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do

not want Jones back?"

Once again this argument was unanswerable. Certainly the animals did not

want Jones back; if the holding of debates on Sunday mornings was liable

to bring him back, then the debates must stop. Boxer, who had now had time

to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: "If Comrade

Napoleon says it, it must be right." And from then on he adopted the

maxim, "Napoleon is always right," in addition to his private motto of "I

will work harder."

By this time the weather had broken and the spring ploughing had begun.

The shed where Snowball had drawn his plans of the windmill had been shut

up and it was assumed that the plans had been rubbed off the floor. Every

Sunday morning at ten o'clock the animals assembled in the big barn to

receive their orders for the week. The skull of old Major, now clean of

flesh, had been disinterred from the orchard and set up on a stump at the

foot of the flagstaff, beside the gun. After the hoisting of the flag, the

animals were required to file past the skull in a reverent manner before

entering the barn. Nowadays they did not sit all together as they had done

in the past. Napoleon, with Squealer and another pig named Minimus, who

had a remarkable gift for composing songs and poems, sat on the front of

the raised platform, with the nine young dogs forming a semicircle round

them, and the other pigs sitting behind. The rest of the animals sat

facing them in the main body of the barn. Napoleon read out the orders for

the week in a gruff soldierly style, and after a single singing of 'Beasts

of England', all the animals dispersed.

On the third Sunday after Snowball's expulsion, the animals were somewhat

surprised to hear Napoleon announce that the windmill was to be built

after all. He did not give any reason for having changed his mind, but

merely warned the animals that this extra task would mean very hard work,

it might even be necessary to reduce their rations. The plans, however,

had all been prepared, down to the last detail. A special committee of

pigs had been at work upon them for the past three weeks. The building of

the windmill, with various other improvements, was expected to take two

years.

That evening Squealer explained privately to the other animals that

Napoleon had never in reality been opposed to the windmill. On the

contrary, it was he who had advocated it in the beginning, and the plan

which Snowball had drawn on the floor of the incubator shed had actually

been stolen from among Napoleon's papers. The windmill was, in fact,

Napoleon's own creation. Why, then, asked somebody, had he spoken so

strongly against it? Here Squealer looked very sly. That, he said, was

Comrade Napoleon's cunning. He had SEEMED to oppose the windmill, simply

as a manoeuvre to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous character and a

bad influence. Now that Snowball was out of the way, the plan could go

forward without his interference. This, said Squealer, was something

called tactics. He repeated a number of times, "Tactics, comrades,

tactics!" skipping round and whisking his tail with a merry laugh. The

animals were not certain what the word meant, but Squealer spoke so

persuasively, and the three dogs who happened to be with him growled so

threateningly, that they accepted his explanation without further

questions.

Edit the description to add:

  • Historical context: the work's place in history, how it was received
  • A summary of the work's overall themes (example: "Here, Byron evokes the classic struggle between virtue and temptation...")
  • A description of the work's overall style and tone
This text has been changed by someone else. Copy your work to your clipboard and click here to reload.