Explain this quote from Animal Farm: "Throughout the spring and summer they worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half." (62)  

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The work load described in this quote shows that the farm is going back to the kind of involuntary toil that was characteristic of the animals' lives under the old regime of Farmer Jones. This is not the free and enthusiastic pulling together of the old days, when the animals believed they would all share in the farm's prosperity. This work load is imposed by the pigs: as the quote says "Napoleon announced . . ."

It is worth noting that what the animals undergo is similar to the heavy work shifts imposed under Stalin in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. These shifts were called "shock work" and were meant to boost productivity levels so that the government could achieve the unrealistic goals of its Five-Year Plans. As with the animals, the workers were given no extra pay or food.

We see too the manipulation of words, a skill that the pigs are adept at. The pigs pretend this is all "voluntary," but by threatening to cut the animals already very meager rations in half, the pigs are essentially saying that any animal that doesn't do the extra work will face near starvation.

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This quote can be found at the beginning of Chapter Six of Animal Farm. By this point, the animals have been through the revolution as well as the Battle of the Cowshed, when they fought off the humans' attempt to retake the farm. Snowball has been expelled from the farm, and Napoleon is beginning to emerge as a dictator. The quote reflects the hard labor to which the animals are subjected by this point in the book. Napoleon was requiring more and more work, seven days a week as fall began. The final line of the quote is typical of the manipulation of language that the pigs use throughout the book. They cast the extra work on Sundays as voluntary, but in reality, in order to receive full rations, they had to do it--it was really not voluntary at all. By this point, the utopian experiment that is Animal Farm is beginning to sour. The animals face a food shortages and increasingly hard work, and Napoleon is becoming more and more powerful. 

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