Animal Farm

by: George Orwell

Chapter V

This chapter lies near the middle of Orwell’s narrative and, in many ways, represents the climax of the tension that has been building from the beginning. Since the animals’ initial victory over Mr. Jones, we have suspected the motives of the pig intelligentsia and Napoleon in particular: ever since the revelation in Chapter III that they have been stealing apples and milk for themselves, the pigs have appeared more interested in grabbing resources and power than in furthering the good of the farm. Now, when Napoleon sets his dogs on Snowball, he proves that his socialist rhetoric about the common good is quite empty. The specifics of Napoleon’s takeover bespeak a long period of careful plotting: Napoleon has been deliberating his seizure of power ever since he first took control of the dogs’ training, in Chapter III. Thus, the banishment of Snowball constitutes the culmination of long-held resentments and aspirations and climactically justifies our feelings of uneasiness about Napoleon.

In his use of the dogs, Napoleon has monopolized the farm’s sources of defense and protection—the dogs could have guarded the farm and warded off predators—in order to create his own private secret police. The pigs claim a parallel monopoly on logic. Squealer linguistically transforms Napoleon’s self-serving act of banishing Snowball into a supreme example of self-sacrifice and manages to convince the animals that no contradiction underlies the leader’s abrupt about-face on the issue of the windmill. Each of Napoleon’s acts of physical violence thus gains acceptance and legitimacy via a corresponding exercise of verbal violence. Political subversion depends on a subversion of logic and language. The connection between these two forms of violence and subversion remained a central concern for Orwell throughout his life, and he examines it both in later chapters of Animal Farm and in his last major novel, 1984.