Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1045

Summary

Over the next year, the animals work hard to build the windmill. Under Napoleon’s direction, they work a sixty-hour week and soon come to work on Sundays as well. To build the windmill, the animals must laboriously drag boulders up a hill and push them over the ledge so that they shatter into more manageable pieces. The project could not be accomplished without Boxer, who begins to work on the windmill in his free time. The focus on the windmill means that some of the regular planting is not accomplished, and as the summer wears on, the animals begin to feel the shortages. Many products, such as iron for the horses’ shoes, dog biscuits, and machinery for the windmill cannot be produced on the farm. In response, Napoleon announces that Animal Farm will begin to trade with the neighboring farms. For the first trade, he plans to sell their wheat crop and possibly some eggs. Napoleon says that the hens should welcome the chance to make a special contribution to the windmill. The animals are uneasy as they seem to remember a prohibition against using money and trade. Squealer comes around, however, and convinces the animals that no such resolution has ever been passed, and since the animals cannot find it in writing, they eventually agree that they must have imagined such a rule.

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Every week, Mr. Whymper, the human intermediary between Animal Farm and the outside human world, comes to the farm. His presence makes the animals uncomfortable, but they enjoy watching him take orders from Napoleon. The humans outside the farm still hope that Animal Farm will be a failure, but they have finally stopped referring to it as Manor Farm. Having given up hope of reclaiming the farm, Mr. Jones moves to a different part of the county. There are constant rumors that Napoleon is about to enter into a business arrangement with either Mr. Frederick or Mr. Pilkington (but never both). Around this time, the pigs move in to the farmhouse to—as Squealer claims—have a quiet place to work. The animals are disturbed to hear that the pigs are sleeping in the beds. Clover returns to the wall with the Seven Commandments, remembering a rule against beds. When she asks Muriel, a goat, to help her read the commandments, Muriel tells her that the commandment says “No animals shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” As Squealer passes by, he explains that the commandment never outlawed simply sleeping in a bed and informs Clover that the pigs have removed all the sheets. When he mentions the danger of Mr. Jones returning if the pigs are not well rested, the animals quickly drop their complaints.

By autumn, the windmill is half finished. One night there is a terrible windstorm, and the next morning, the animals are devastated to see that the windmill is in ruins. Napoleon tells the animals that Snowball is responsible for the destruction of the windmill and offers a reward to any animal that captures him. Soon after Napoleon’s announcement, the tracks of a pig are found near the windmill. Napoleon deems this proof of Snowball’s involvement and announces that work must begin immediately on rebuilding the windmill.

Analysis

Despite the increasingly harsh conditions on the farm, the pigs’ effective propaganda leads the animals to believe that they are working for their own benefit:

They grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything that they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.

Though the animals no longer work for the benefit of humans, they fail to realize that the pigs are becoming increasingly similar to their former human masters. Napoleon’s exploitation of the animals’ labor continues as he forces them to work “voluntarily” on Sundays so they can receive rations. Napoleon and the pigs continue to break the commandments of the farm by engaging in trade, for which they enlist the help of Mr. Whymper. Mr. Whymper represents those in the West who ignored the abuses of Stalin’s regime in order to personally profit from trade with the Soviet Union.

When the pigs move in to the farmhouse, they disregard the collective decision that it should be set aside as a museum and also break another one of the commandments by sleeping in the beds. The animals on the farm have been so indoctrinated by the pigs, however, that few question this change. Boxer easily dismisses the pigs’ wrongdoing by repeating his maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” demonstrating the power of simplistic slogans to stifle critical thinking and disobedience. Clover is not so easily dissuaded, but when she investigates the commandments on the wall, it is revealed the pigs have not only figuratively rewritten history by suggesting that the restriction against trade never existed—they have literally rewritten history by making changes to the original commandments written on the wall.

Squealer’s justification for the pigs’ sleeping in beds is technical rather than logical. He insists that the prohibition was never against beds specifically but only against sheets, which are a human invention. Of course, the pigs still use blankets and numerous other human inventions by living in the farmhouse, but this inconsistency goes unquestioned by the animals, once again illustrating the advantage of the pigs’ intelligence. Squealer’s clever manipulation of language exemplifies the rhetorical trickery that Orwell criticized in his famous 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” In the essay, Orwell argues that politicians frequently use vague and unclear language in order to deliberately hide the truth.

When the windmill is demolished, Napoleon quickly blames Snowball for the failure. We will soon learn that the windmill fell over because it was designed poorly, which explains why Napoleon—the sole creator of the windmill plans—must quickly create a scapegoat to cover up his failure. In villainizing Snowball, Napoleon not only avoids having to take responsibility for his inadequacy but also creates a malevolent outside force for the animals to fear and rally against. Now, Napoleon can invoke the threat posed by Snowball along with the possible return of Mr. Jones in order to frighten the animals into compliance.

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