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.
These words from Chapter V describe Napoleon’s violent expulsion of Snowball from Animal Farm, which parallels the falling-out between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Napoleon, who is clearly losing the contest for the hearts and minds of the lower animals to his rival Snowball, turns to his private police force of dogs to enforce his supremacy. As Stalin did, Napoleon prefers to work behind the scenes to build his power by secrecy and deception, while Snowball, as Trotsky did, devotes himself to winning popular support through his ideas and his eloquence. Napoleon’s use of the attack dogs in this passage provides a blatant example of his differences with Snowball and points beyond the story to criticize real leaders for their use of such authoritarian tactics.
More generally, this episode is the first of many in which the political positioning of the Rebellion’s early days gives way to overt violence, openly subverting the democratic principles of Animal Farm. It signals the deterioration of Animal Farm from a society based on equal rights to a society in which those who are powerful determine who gets what rights.