Discuss the scene when the chickens were killed.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The scene in which the animals, in particular the hens and other chickens are killed, is one of the most intense in the book.  It is intense because there are so many different emotions that Orwell throws at the animals, and by extension, the reader.  The need to sort these out is something that the reader is able to do, but something that the animals cannot do.  The animals have been assembled in the yard by Napoleon, who has been awarded the medal for Animal Hero- First Class.  In this, there is a sense of forced joy amongst the animals.  Yet, this is only a prelude to the terror that Napoleon unleashes when his attack dogs summon and target all of those who have been troubling Napoleon.  One by one, the animals who either have been targeted as troublemakers or through the notion of "forced confessions" come forth and are slaughtered by the dogs.  This scene of slaughter and brutality is one where the animals are sort of frozen, paralyzed.  If they speak out and aid their friends and colleagues, they will be killed.  Yet, in remaining silent, they become convinced that this is not the end goal of the revolution, and a sense of insecurity settles into them.  Through this, the emotional dynamic of the scene is a confusing one, for the animals are uncertain of both what to do and what is happening to them.

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