In Animal Farm, what does the struggle for power between Snowball and Napoleon represent historically?

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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From a historical perspective, the power struggle between Snowball and Napoleon represents the relationship between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. Just as Snowball and Napoleon overthrew Mr Jones, Trotsky and Stalin both took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917 in which they overthrew Tsar Nicholas II. In the years following the rebellion, however, the differences between the two men started to emerge.

Just like Snowball, Trotsky was an idealist who believed that Communism (represented here by the windmill) could really improve the quality of life for everyone. Stalin, represented by Napoleon, was less concerned with such ideals and was instead focused on the selfish pursuit of power. The tension between the two men came to a head in 1928 when Stalin banished Trotsky from the USSR and this event is portrayed by Orwell in Chapter Five, when Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm. In fact, Napoleon's pack of guard dogs represent the KGB, Stalin's secret police.

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The struggle between these two characters is symbolic of the situation between Joseph Stalin (Napoleon) and Leon Trotsky (Snowball), who was banished from the Soviet Union by Stalin, just like Snowball is banished from the farm by Napoleon, who uses Snowball as a scapegoat for the supposed problems that are happening on the farm.

This is from the eNotes article on Leon Trotsky:

"Ironically, his success as commissar of war contributed to his political defeat at the hands of Joseph Stalin. It is true that Trotsky’s doctrine of permanent revolution was unrealistic, for Soviet Russia was in no condition to challenge the leading capitalist powers. His fellow members in the Politburo were also aware of historical precedents and feared the emergence of a Russian Napoleon who might strangle their revolution. Trotsky, far more than Stalin, appeared to fit that unwelcome mold. His political end came quickly. In 1927, he was expelled from the Communist Party, and in 1929, he was expelled from the Soviet Union."

Check the links below, including the historical article on Leon Trotsky.  Good luck!


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