Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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What was the purpose of the spontaneous demonstrations in "Animal Farm"?

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Carter Westfall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The demonstrations were anything but spontaneous. These displays were a further example of Napoleon's tyranny and manipulation. The general animal populace on the farm was always hungry, overworked and tired. They were brainwashed into believing that their lives were more dignified than in the past. We read in chapter nine that they felt this way because,

There were more songs, more speeches, more processions.

Furthermore,

Napoleon had commanded that once a week there should be held something called a Spontaneous Demonstration, the object of which was to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm.

The demonstrations were lengthy, formal affairs filled with speeches, the recital of poems, and the singing of songs extolling all the good of Animal Farm and its leader. Also, the animals had no choice in the matter, and when some of them complained, their protests were soon drowned out by the sheep's loud bleating of "four legs good, two legs bad!"

The real purpose of the exercise was so that the animals "were able to forget that their bellies were empty, at least part of the time." It is through this propaganda and coercion that Napoleon and his acolytes maintained the general order on the farm and ensured their positions of authority.

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The demonstrations have different purposes for different people. By that I mean, for Orwell they are a way to comment on Soviet history: that nation held stage-managed "spontaneous" activities to create the illusion that their population supported their politics. For the animals, there is another purpose, or rather, several. In Chapter IX you'll see that things have gone pretty badly for the animals before the demonstrations start. These are meant to distract the animals from the cold and hunger. They are meant to rally support behind Napoleon, and to raise their spirits—and to show Napoleon's control of the situation.

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