CHAPTER 4 Context
Autumn approaches and the rift between Snowball and Napoleon get wider.
Snowball wishes to ensure the security of Animal Farm by spreading the revolution to the neighboring farms, whilst Napoleon wishes to increase
the farm’s efficiency.
The events on Animal Farm now concern the neighboring farmers, Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington, and they would like to profit from this
situation by gaining control over Animal Farm.
Their motive is to gain property rather than to assist Jones who is portrayed as a weak, ineffectual man who now spends most of his time in the Public House.
Using pigeons, Snowball becomes aware of the plans of the neighboring farmers and he sets about making plans to repel any invasion from the
humans. The pigeons are also used to spread word to the other farmers’ animals regarding the rebellion.
Soon the humans make an attempt to restore order to Animal Farm, but Snowball organizes the animals and the invasion fails totally. Although a sheep is killed, the animals are delighted at their success in the Battle of the Cowshed. At the end of this action, Snowball is considered by the animals as a hero and master tactician. All are pleased with Snowball’s popularity except Napoleon.
During the battle, a stable lad is knocked unconscious by Boxer who had forgotten that his hooves were iron-shod. He shows compassion
towards the unfortunate boy, in stark contrast to Snowball who cries, “The only good human being is a dead one”. Both Boxer and Snowball receive a Military Decoration for their efforts in the
battle, “Animal Hero – 2nd Class”. The dead sheep also received this award posthumously.
Orwell deliberately portrays most of the humans in the story in an unfavorable light.
Jones is the drunk and poor farm manager, and Messrs. Frederick and Pilkington are the greedy neighbors who wish to retake the farm and benefit
from the animals’ harvest. They totally underestimate the animals because Snowball is able to predict their actions, and they fall into the animals’ trap.
The paragraphs describing the battle are some of the most descriptive in the book and Orwell generates a feeling of excitement through his
The animals’ success arises from the discipline instilled in them by Snowball who leads by example, showing great courage against the armed
This Chapter shows Snowball at the pinnacle of his career on Animal Farm. In addition to being an innovator and prime mover in the society,
he has now become their hero.
He is becoming too popular with the animals from Napoleon’s perspective. We will see later how Snowball’s actions in the battle are totally distorted towards the end of the story.
We note that the humans join together to liberate Animal Farm, both Frederick and Pilkington helped by Jones attack the farm. If they are
successful, Jones will have to pay a heavy price to the other two farmers, and that is why Pilkington and Frederick lead the assault.
Again, the reader cannot escape the similarity with events that took place in Russia during the Communist Revolution. We note that
decorations are awarded to the brave animals that led the assault, and that the victory will be celebrated periodically during the calendar year.
Paradoxically, the irony that is present in this Chapter and that will come to fruition later in the story, does not lead to humour, but to
tragedy. The animals do not realize it, but they have been tricked by the pigs.
They think that their victory will lead to a permanent change in their lives, but just as the peasants in Russia found out when they lost the Tsars and gained the Dictators - the animals have lost the humans and gained the pigs; their lives will not be greatly altered by the end of the story.