In Animal Farm, what is the dispute about farm defense in Chapter 5?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator


After the animals successfully rout the attacking farmers, they have a disagreement over how to continue providing for the common defense. Showcasing their different leadership styles, Napoleon and Snowball argue:

According to Napoleon, what the animals must do was to procure firearms and train themselves in the use of them. According to Snowball, they must send out more and more pigeons and stir up rebellion among the animals on the other farms.
(Orwell, Animal Farm,

Napoleon's ideal defense is a strong weapons plan, to fight off attackers and prove to the world that the Animal Farm is a working, vital entity. Snowball's plan is to make the issue of farm defense moot; with all the other farms dealing with their own uprisings, there will be no attackers and so no need to defend. Each position has merits: on the one hand, if the farm is self-sufficient in defense, they have little to fear; on the other hand, if they never need to defend, ready access to weapons could be internally dangerous. At the time, neither side wins precedence, and the issue of the day moves on to the windmill.