What are three examples of selfishness in "Animal Farm?"

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As others have mentioned, the pigs have more or less cornered the market on selfishness—but not entirely. Mollie shows her selfishness when she shirks her duty by getting up late and leaving work early. She will only learn the letters of her name and no others. She hides lumps of sugar and ribbons for herself. She finally goes back to pulling a cart for a human. Mollie is interested in her own well-being more than helping others or working for a cause greater than her own comfort.

The cat disappears when it is time for work and then shows up for meals, also not pulling her weight.

But the pigs, by far, are the most selfish creatures on Animal Farm. They care only about their own well-being and are willing to work the other animals to the bone to live in comfort. Even early on, they take milk and a windfall of apples for themselves, not sharing with the other animals. Squealer, of course, lies vigorously, denying that the pigs are selfish:

You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. . . . We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples . . .

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The pigs really live up to their name when it comes to selfishness in George Orwell's novel, Animal Farm. Napoleon completely allows the power to go to his head once Snowball is out of the way. He demands that the other animals address him as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon" and requires the other animals to step aside when he passes. He moves into the house and sleeps in the best bed. He acquires a taste for hard liquor and begins spending the farm's money on whiskey--for the pigs. He allows the hardest-working and most heroic of the animals, Boxer, to be sold for use as glue. He allows the animals to starve while he fattens himself on sugar, milk and excessive food.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 9 watches the tragic death of Boxer. Readers assume by the end of the chapter, that Napoleon made a great deal of money on the sale of Boxer's material worth as at the same time, a wooden crate presumably filled with whiskey arrived.

Napoleon also selfishly wanted to watch the improvement of his own race(oooo... I mean species). Thus he made other animals move to make way for the pigs, build the pigs a school, and work so that the pigs could have food, enough to make them fat.

Finally, a last example of selfishness is the repeated changing of commandments to suit the needs, rather the vices of the pigs.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that just about anything that Napoleon does could be an example of selfishness.  Napoleon wants all the power for himself and he wants all the material comforts to be for him and for the pigs.

So, for example, only the pigs were allowed to have any of the milk that came from the cows.  Another example would be how only Napoleon is allowed to have sugar.

I suppose that you could also say that much of what Mollie does is motivated by selfishness.  She does not work very hard and is always trying to get pretty things for herself.