How does the Sixth Commandment change in Animal Farm?

Asked on by jemy00

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Sixth Commandment created by the animals of Animal Farm states that

No animal shall kill any other animal.

However, this commandment is soon broken. Napoleon attempts to have Snowball killed in Chapter V when he orders his nine canine bodyguards to attack his opponent, but Snowball manages to escape the vicious dogs. In Chapters VI and VII, the chickens are forced to turn over their eggs for sale to the humans--an act they consider murder, but in Chapter VII, the first brutal killings actually occur. When several hens admit to being supporters of Snowball, they are "slaughtered." One sheep admits to "urinating" in the drinking water; two more admit to killing an old ram;

They were all slain on the spot.

More executions are administered, leaving "a pile of corpses" at Napoleon's feet. A few days later, the Sixth Commandment had been changed. It now read

"No animal shall kill any other animal without cause."

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, the Sixth Commandment initially stated that "No animal shall kill any other animal." Old Major passed down this tenet to unite the animals and prevent them from becoming enemies with each other. However, Napoleon quickly usurps power and begins his tyrannical reign over Animal Farm. Napoleon initially attempts to murder Snowball during a meeting but is unsuccessful. However, Napoleon does follow through by murdering other animals in Chapter 7. In Chapter 7, Napoleon forces confessions from various animals and has them killed by ferocious dogs. Napoleon's killings mimic Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of the 1930s when he arrested, exiled, and murdered political dissidents in Russia. The brutal murders upset the animals, and Clover eventually asks Benjamin to read the Sixth Commandment again. When Benjamin recites the Sixth Commandment, it has been altered to read, "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." The additional two words added to the Sixth Commandment justify Napoleon's actions. Orwell demonstrates how authoritarian regimes manipulate the population through the clever use of language to justify heinous acts and policies. 

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