How is Snowball a good leader in the book Animal Farm?

In Animal Farm, Snowball's enthusiasm, work ethic, and intelligence make him a good leader. Snowball is also a visionary who puts his thoughts into action and assumes a hands-on approach to improving Animal Farm. He propagates the theory of Animalism, organizes various educational committees, and develops plans to build a windmill. In addition to being innovative and industrious, Snowball is also an eloquent speaker and capable military leader.

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When we think of the characteristics that make a good leader, honesty, compassion, preparedness, bravery, and forward thinking come to mind.

Snowball shows his honesty right up front, when Mollie asks him if there will “still be sugar after the Rebellion.” He tells her straightforwardly that since they cannot make sugar on the farm and it is not a necessity, sugar will not be available. He does not beat around the bush or give her false hope.

I would argue that Snowball showcases good leadership skills when he realizes that many animals are struggling to memorize the Seven Commandments. By summarizing the contents of these commandments into the simple phrase “Four legs good, two legs bad,” he makes his message accessible to all residents of Animal Farm.

We see just how Snowball has prepared for various eventualities when Jones and his men attempt to “recapture” the farm in what becomes known as “The Battle of the Cowshed.” In expectation of this event, Snowball has studied a book of Julius Caesar’s campaigns that he found in the farmhouse. During the course of this skirmish, Snowball showcases his bravery, throwing himself against Jones in order to swing the battle in the animals’ favor.

Snowball’s suggestion that the knoll at the “highest point on the farm” would be ideal for a windmill shows that he is a forward thinker. Up until this point, the farm has been run in an old-fashioned manner, with neither human nor animal farmers getting much help from machines or technology. The idea of introducing power with the help of a windmill sets Snowball up as a forward thinker.

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In Orwell's classic novella Animal Farm, Snowball allegorically represents Leon Trotsky, who was a communist theorist and leader of the Russian Revolution. In the story, Orwell depicts Snowball as an intelligent, capable leader who is passionate, hard-working, and innovative. Snowball plays a leading role in the revolution by propagating the theory of Animalism, educating the other animals, and valiantly defending the farm during the Battle of the Cowshed. Following Mr. Jones's expulsion, Snowball is actively involved in improving the farm by forming various educational committees and developing plans to build a windmill, which will act as a dynamo and provide the farm with electricity.

Snowball's innovative ideas, indefatigable work ethic, and hands-on approach make him a good leader. In addition to Snowball's industrious personality, he is also an eloquent speaker, who is articulate, persuasive, and influential. Napoleon cannot match Snowball's public speaking skills and uses intimidation to bolster support behind closed doors. During the debates regarding the windmill, Snowball depicts Animal Farm as a utopia where animals only need to work three days a week. Snowball is also a capable military leader and proves his expertise by planning an effective counter-attack to defend the farm. Snowball studies an old book of Julius Caesar's campaigns and successfully defeats Mr. Jones and his men during the Battle of the Cowshed. Unfortunately, Napoleon usurps power with the help of his nine ferocious dogs and exiles Snowball from the farm.

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Snowball's intelligence, hard work, and competency make him an excellent leader. We learn early on that he is highly intelligent, for he is the best writer among the pigs. Orwell also shows, subtly, that Snowball is willing to work hard in a way Napoleon is not. For example, it is Snowball who climbs the ladder and paints the Commandments on the side of the barn. Snowball also creates Animal Farm's flag and energetically organizes the many animal committees. 

Snowball takes the time to educate himself on what he needs to know to be a good military leader. For example, he finds and reads an old book about Julius Caesar's military campaigns. This reading helps him organize an effective defense when Farmer Jones and the humans attack Animal Farm. Without his clever strategy, Animal Farm might have been defeated almost as soon as it began.

While not entirely without some notion of privilege, he is also a true believer in the ideals of the revolution: he is firm with Mollie about no sugar and no ribbons. Animals have to be animals, he insists, not behave like humans. 

Snowball studies a farm journal and plans innovations to improve crop yields on the farm. He also makes plans to build a windmill, with the idea of bringing material benefits to the animals. 

Napoleon, in contrast, is merely a crass political opportunist who does no work for the common good and has no new ideas. All he is interested in is amassing power for himself and a very few of his cronies. It is easy to imagine that had Snowball's intelligence, ability to plan, and dedication won the day, Animal Farm would have become a much better place. 

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Snowball genuinely believes in Old Major's message of animal equality and shared sacrifice for shared gain, and so his ideas represent an attempt to create a working communal farm. Although he shares the early luxuries of the pigs, such as the milk and apples which are kept from the other animals, he tries to make things better for them with technological advances like the windmill. His passions are naive, and he is driven out by Napoleon's brutality.

Snowball had made a close study of some back numbers of the Farmer and Stockbreeder which he had found in the farmhouse, and was full of plans for innovations and improvements. He talked learnedly about field drains, silage, and basic slag... Napoleon produced no schemes of his own, but said quietly that Snowball's would come to nothing...
(Orwell, Animal Farm,

Napoleon's pragmatism proves more powerful than Snowball's intelligence, and the other animals are cowed into accepting Snowballs expulsion because of the threat of the dogs. Had Napoleon been removed instead, it is possible that Snowball could have created the utopian ideal with his drive and his understanding of technology.

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