What is Napoleon's most important decision in Animal Farm?

Quick answer:

Napoleon's most important decision was to get the pack of dogs that he had been teaching to chase his leadership rival, Snowball, off the farm. This made it possible for him to get started with his plan to dominate the other residents of Animal Farm.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In answering this question, we need to remember that the whole of this classic novel is an allegory for Russian history, and that Napoleon represents Josef Stalin, the former premier of the Soviet Union. Napoleon's goal, therefore, is to assume dominance over the other animals.

Therefore, Napoleon’s most important decision—although it was not an ethical decision—was to get the nine ferocious dogs who he had been teaching since they were puppies to chase his rival, Snowball, off Animal Farm. This is at the point at which Napoleon began to display characteristics of a dictator and he uses the animals’ shocked silence in the aftermath of seeing Snowball chased off to implement new rules which cement him as their leader.

The changes that he implements in this critical moment include the abolition of Sunday meetings, and the fact that farm policy will now be decided upon by a group of pigs led, of course, by Napoleon himself. He then contradicts everything he had said in his earlier argument with Snowball by announcing that work on the windmill would begin.

Under Napoleon’s rule, the “Animal Farm” dream that the other animals had bought into begins to unravel quickly, and Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although this is a question open to interpretation and discussion, there is a fundamental decision that Napoleon makes that dictates and represents his other decisions in Animal Farm. His decision to prevent the other farm animals from being educated affected the story—and Napoleon's rise to power—in major ways. Because the animals couldn't read, Napoleon was able to slowly alter the original seven commandments that the animals created when they first took over the farm until only one dissonant commandment was left: "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS."

Originally, the overthrow of Mr. Jones was meant to usher in a new way of living: true egalitarianism for all of the animals. In fact, the seventh commandment originally read, "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL." However, throughout the novel, Napoleon's core belief that the pigs are superior to the other farm animals leads him to adjust all of the commandments in order to meet his personal needs and prop himself up as the new "Mr. Jones." If the animals had been allowed to read, they might have recognized Napoleon's plans earlier. However, because they were forbidden to do so, they are at his mercy and remain ignorant of his sneaky changes and hidden agenda throughout the novel.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial