In Animal Farm, what happens during the battle of the windmill?

During the Battle of the Windmill, a group of armed men led by Mr. Frederick attack the farm in an attempt to gain full control of the pastures. The men blow up the windmill, and the animals respond by attacking the invaders. Eventually, they succeed in driving the men from the farm.

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Author and socialist George Orwell (1903-1950) wrote the satiric novel Animal Farm after serving with the loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. While in Spain, he witnessed the abuses of communism and became strongly opposed to any form of totalitarianism. Orwell’s inspiration for Animal Farm emanates from events...

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Author and socialist George Orwell (1903-1950) wrote the satiric novel Animal Farm after serving with the loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. While in Spain, he witnessed the abuses of communism and became strongly opposed to any form of totalitarianism. Orwell’s inspiration for Animal Farm emanates from events during the Russian Revolution when the peasant population rose up against the monarchy in favor of socialism. The resulting political system was intended to share property, land, and capital among the people on an equal basis. As history records, the experiment in Russia moved instead toward communism under Joseph Stalin who formed a dictatorship, which controlled all political, economic, and social activity.

Orwell intends through his novel to destroy the idea of communism as a perfect society and demonstrate how human beings have the ability for selfish reasons to seize power through corruption. He shows his readers the truth about the exploitation of people by “totalitarian” states and reveals the methods of maintaining political power by eliminating the opposition. The author exposes the reader to the evils of communism by the powerful use of symbolism couched within a fable.

“The Battle of the Windmill” is a key symbol of the defeat of the humans by the animals, which mirrors the peasant revolution ousting the monarchy in Russia. The construction of a windmill to create electrical power is an idea proposed by Snowball who shared power with Napoleon at the beginning of the story:

This arrangement would have worked well enough if it had not been for the disputes between Snowball and Napoleon. These two disagreed at every point where disagreement was possible . . . But of all their controversies, none was so bitter as the one that took place over the windmill.

When a storm destroys the windmill, Napoleon blames Snowball, usurps power as the “Leader,” and eventually forces Snowball into exile. Once again, Orwell uses the windmill controversy to symbolize the actions of Stalin eliminating his opposition in Russia. Napoleon declares that the windmill was originally his idea and vows to re-build the structure by making it even stronger. The new windmill is named “Napoleon Mill.”

Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield Farm near Animal Farm is hated by the animals as a corrupt human. Napoleon strikes a deal with Frederick for the sale of lumber, but the human cheats him. Frederick leads an attack against Animal Farm and destroys the new windmill, but the animals are able to rout the humans and drive them away. This “Battle of the Windmill” represents the animal victory over the humans, much like the initial peasant victory over the monarchy in Russia. The animals now believe they can live independently by virtue of their common sense and reason, without assistance from humans, and without tyranny.

Nevertheless, the “Battle of the Windmill” ultimately evolves like the historical victory in the Russian Revolution:

No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The victory in the “Battle of the Windmill” is short-lived. The pigs become just like humans.

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The windmill has come to have great symbolic importance for the animals. This rickety structure represents all the hard work and sacrifice that the animals have made in building Animalism. So when Mr. Frederick and his armed thugs blow up the windmill, the animals are furious to see all their hard work obliterated in the blink of an eye. They respond by attacking Mr. Frederick and his men, and though the animals sustain many casualties in the ensuing battle, they nonetheless prevail.

The Battle of the Windmill is an allegory of the Battle of Stalingrad. Napoleon had concluded a deal with Mr. Frederick to provide him and surrounding farms with timber. This is an allegory of the Nazi-Soviet Pact that Stalin signed with Hitler. But Mr. Frederick reneges on the deal by paying for the timber with counterfeit currency. He then attacks the farm just as Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. The ensuing battle is long and bloody, but eventually the animals prevail, just like the Soviets did against the Germans, despite sustaining massive losses.

Although Napoleon, like Stalin, shouldn't have concluded a deal with the enemy in the first place, he's quick to take credit for the Battle of the Windmill, turning it into a massive propaganda victory for his regime.

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After toiling very hard to rebuild the windmill with walls twice as thick as before, the animals hear rumors that Frederick is planning to attack it. At first, the pigs downplay this idea, because Napoleon has been secretly negotiating to sell timber to Frederick, the Hitler figure in the story. However, after Frederick takes the timber and cheats the animals out of the payment for it, Napoleon goes on high alert. He places sentinels all over the farm.

The attack comes. Frederick and his men are able to drive the animals back. The men dig a hole near the windmill and pack it with explosives. They then blow the windmill up.

This devastating blow causes the animals to explode with anger and a desire for vengeance. They rally and aggressively attack Frederick and his men, driving them off the farm.

After the men are gone, Squealer wants the animals to celebrate the victory of the Battle of the Cowshed. Boxer, however, wonders,

"What victory?" . . . His knees were bleeding, he had lost a shoe and split his hoof, and a dozen pellets had lodged themselves in his hind leg. "What victory, comrade? . . . they have destroyed the windmill. And we had worked on it for two years!"

Nevertheless, the pigs make a great celebration out of this "victory."

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The Battle of the Windmill, which takes place in Chapter 8 of the novella, allegorically represents the Battle of Stalingrad, which was a major turning point in World War II. In the novella, Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield Farm and his men invade Animal Farm in the morning and immediately open fire on the animals. The animals panic and race into the barn and the surrounding buildings to avoid taking fire. While the animals are hiding in the barn, the entire pasture and windmill are under Frederick's control. Benjamin then notices two men packing blasting powder into the base of the windmill, which terrifies and shocks the animals. Suddenly, there is a massive explosion and the windmill is destroyed by Frederick and his men. Fueled by anger and revenge, the animals race out of the barn and successfully drive their enemies off the farm. A cow, three sheep, and two geese were killed, and nearly everyone was wounded during the Battle of the Windmill. The animals are exhausted, wounded, and dismayed following the battle. They are also heartbroken that their windmill was completely destroyed and Squealer immediately claims that they were victorious despite their heavy casualties and obvious losses.

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The Battle of the Windmill is a stylised representation of World War II.

Fredrick's men approach and blow up the windmill. The animals are incensed and immediately retaliate. 

The fighting is violent and bloody: Racer uses his hooves to 'smash heads in'. And while the animals ultimately 'win', they are exhausted, weary, and have lost many of their members. In fact 'nearly everyone was wounded'.

Immediately, Squealer declares that the Battle was a stunning victory for Napoleon. However, the other animals are not so sure. The heavy losses and suffering are still fresh in their minds. Squealer then proclaims that it must be a victory as the animals have regained the farm. This, again, does not convince the animals. Boxer epitomises this when he states, "we have won back what we had before". That is, no change (for the better) has been secured, but sacrifices have been made.

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