Unknown to the animals, the consequences of trading with the other farms results in a food shortage the following winter, which is bitterly cold.
Napoleon introduces rationing, but this will be supplemented by potatoes when this crop is harvested.
Unfortunately, the potato crop fails and soon rumors spread throughout the countryside that the animals on Animal Farm are starving. Napoleon views these rumors as undermining his position, so he invites his lawyer to visit the farm where they have filled the bins with sand covered by a shallow layer of meal. The lawyer returns and tells the community that all is well on Animal Farm.
Napoleon is now rarely seen and spends most of his time in the farmhouse, and Squealer becomes his mouthpiece.
The hens are ordered to lay eggs and they rebel against this instruction, viewing it as murder. Their food rations are stopped and they
hold out in the rafters of the barn for a week, but finally succumb to laying eggs for sale. Many of them have died of starvation in the process.
The farm also has a stock of matured timber and both Pilkington and Frederick are eager to purchase this. In order to obtain a good price,
Napoleon plays one farmer off against the other.
Napoleon continues to use Snowball as a scapegoat for all the ills being faced by the community. He suggests that Snowball has always been
a traitor and that he is working with the farmers to overthrow animalism on Animal Farm.
In order to support the view that Snowball is a traitor, Napoleon needs to spread some propaganda. He orders an assembly of all the animals in the yard and he makes a rare appearance accompanied by his nine huge dogs. Three of the dogs suddenly attack Boxer, but he’s more than a match for them, and while two retreats, Boxer pins the third under his hoof and waits for Napoleon to respond. Napoleon suggests that Boxer lets the dog go.
The four pigs that had suggested that Sunday’s meetings should continue are forced to confess that they have been in touch with Snowball and
collaborated in the destruction of the windmill.
Once they have made their confession, the dogs rip their throats out. They are soon followed by the three hens who organized the egg rebellion plus other animals that have shown dissent in the past. Napoleon has reinforced his power over the animals through this purge, but still Boxer views these events with naivety, believing that Napoleon must be right.
Later, the animals note that one of the Commandments appears to have changed - “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause”.
After the slaughter, the animals return to the site of the windmill bemused.
Boxer vows to rebuild the windmill, subconsciously immersing himself in work rather than facing reality.
Squealer informs the animals that there is now no need to sing “Beasts of England”. A new song will be composed in honor of their leader,
We now see that Napoleon is totally corrupted by power, and his
position is maintained by the suffering of others.
With the aid of his bodyguard of dogs, he is able to root out those animals that in his view do not conform, regardless of their contributions to Animal Farm. The attack on Boxer, the cornerstone of the animals’ efforts, was no doubt prompted by Napoleon, but he clearly underestimated Boxer’s physical power. Boxer views the attack as merely an accident and regards Napoleon as the only qualified leader of the animals. He cannot contemplate the idea that he is worth nothing in Napoleon’s eyes.
The day of the purge marks a milestone in the development of Napoleon’s empire. “Since Jones had left the farm, until today, no animal had
killed another animal. Not even a rat had been killed.”
It is surprising that Napoleon killed four of his own kind, but he is using the doctrine that if you are not for Napoleon’s revolution, then you
must be against it. As will be seen later in the story, Napoleon intends to breed his own master race, a clear symbol of Nazi Germany.
The animals have to accept the fact that the executions were of traitors. If not, then they have to accept the situation that conditions
are worse than they were under Jones.
Orwell uses a clever technique towards the end of this Chapter by shifting the narrative.
The reader now views the situation through the unconscious thoughts of Clover using a poetic description of the farm.
“These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that
night when Old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of
the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal”