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Although Napoleon initially rejects Snowball's idea of building a windmill, after he runs Snowball off the farm as a traitor, he adopts the idea as his own. Even so, he approves faulty windmill plans so that after all the hard work and sacrifice of the animals, the windmill collapses and has to be rebuilt with walls twice as thick.

Napoleon has been little more than a headache when it comes to the building of the windmill. He also does no work on it, yet he takes full credit for it when it is done and decrees that it be named after him:

Napoleon himself, attended by his dogs and his cockerel, came down to inspect the completed work; he personally congratulated the animals on their achievement, and announced that the mill would be named Napoleon Mill.

Napoleon then pooh-poohs reports that the windmill will be attacked, only to have Frederick and his men blow it up so that it must be rebuilt again.

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In Orwell's novella Animal Farm, the windmill allegorically represents Stalin's first five-year-plan to modernize the Soviet Union and industrialize the nation. Snowball develops the plans for constructing the windmill and draws the blueprints for it using Mr. Jones's various scientific journals and books on engineering. Napoleon is initially opposed to Snowball's plans for constructing a windmill but immediately adopts the project once he usurps power. After chasing Snowball off the farm, Napoleon assumes complete authority and requires the animals to spend the majority of their days collecting materials and constructing the windmill. The animals exhaust themselves building the windmill but finally manage to complete the massive project in chapter eight. Despite being exhausted and malnourished, the animals are extremely proud of their accomplishment. Napoleon names the windmill after himself; he ends up naming the windmill Napoleon Mill.

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