Animal Farm: Why was comrade Napoleon "dying"? What really happened? Was this surprising? Why?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just after the Battle of the Windmill, Napoleon gives himself a medal. Even though the battle had been a defeat, with the windmill destroyed, several animals killed and Boxer severely wounded, the pigs make out as if it was actually a victory. Not many days after the battle the pigs discover a case of whiskey in the cellar of the farmhouse. That night riotous singing goes on in the farmhouse among the pigs, but the next morning Squealer tells the animals that Napoleon is dying.

In reality, Napoleon suffers from a hangover after a drunken night during which he even donned one of Farmer Jones's hats and ran around the farm yard. Not surprisingly, he has become just like the farmer. He lives in his house, the pigs start to wear ribbons in their tails (two commandments broken), and Napoleon even sells Boxer to the glue factory. Not long after the sale, the pigs again have procured a case of whiskey. The plight of the animals is basically the same as it was under Jones. They work harder for less, with rations continually cut, despite the fact that the farm is successful and the pigs seem to be living better than ever.