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To put this phrase into context, it appears in Chapter Six of Animal Farm when the animals are working harder than ever to finish the windmill. From the point of view of the narrator, this phrase is significant because it provides the reader with an example of bias: the narrator is clearly suggesting that the pigs rarely do any work and, when they do, it is only at moments which they deem to be "critical." The narrator is also foreshadowing the pigs' increasing separation from the other animals, particularly that of Napoleon, who rises to become the farm's absolute ruler.
In contrast, however, this phrase is also important because, up to this point in the novel, the pigs have acted as the leaders of the farm and differentiated themselves from the workers. Their sudden involvement in the building of the windmill demonstrates a rare instance of good leadership and a sense of community spirit.
Up until this point, the pigs have separated themselves from the workers in order to be leaders and supervisors. The fact that they are doing some actual manual labor shows how important everyone feels the completion of the windwill is.
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