The Complete Works of



George Orwell > Animal Farm > Chapter VII

Animal Farm

Chapter VII

It was a bitter winter. The stormy weather was followed by sleet and snow,
and then by a hard frost which did not break till well into February. The
animals carried on as best they could with the rebuilding of the windmill,
well knowing that the outside world was watching them and that the envious
human beings would rejoice and triumph if the mill were not finished
on time.

Out of spite, the human beings pretended not to believe that it was
Snowball who had destroyer the windmill: they said that it had fallen down
because the walls were too thin. The animals knew that this was not the
case. Still, it had been decided to build the walls three feet thick this
time instead of eighteen inches as before, which meant collecting much
larger quantities of stone. For a long time the quarry was full of
snowdrifts and nothing could be done. Some progress was made in the dry
frosty weather that followed, but it was cruel work, and the animals could
not feel so hopeful about it as they had felt before. They were always
cold, and usually hungry as well. Only Boxer and Clover never lost heart.
Squealer made excellent speeches on the joy of service and the dignity of
labour, but the other animals found more inspiration in Boxer's strength
and his never-failing cry of "I will work harder!"

In January food fell short. The corn ration was drastically reduced, and
it was announced that an extra potato ration would be issued to make up
for it. Then it was discovered that the greater part of the potato crop
had been frosted in the clamps, which had not been covered thickly enough.
The potatoes had become soft and discoloured, and only a few were edible.
For days at a time the animals had nothing to eat but chaff and mangels.
Starvation seemed to stare them in the face.

It was vitally necessary to conceal this fact from the outside world.
Emboldened by the collapse of the windmill, the human beings were
inventing fresh lies about Animal Farm. Once again it was being put about
that all the animals were dying of famine and disease, and that they were
continually fighting among themselves and had resorted to cannibalism and
infanticide. Napoleon was well aware of the bad results that might follow
if the real facts of the food situation were known, and he decided to make
use of Mr. Whymper to spread a contrary impression. Hitherto the animals
had had little or no contact with Whymper on his weekly visits: now,
however, a few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark
casually in his hearing that rations had been increased. In addition,
Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store-shed to be filled
nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained
of the grain and meal. On some suitable pretext Whymper was led through
the store-shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was
deceived, and continued to report to the outside world that there was no
food shortage on Animal Farm.

Nevertheless, towards the end of January it became obvious that it would
be necessary to procure some more grain from somewhere. In these days
Napoleon rarely appeared in public, but spent all his time in the
farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he
did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who
closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he
did not even appear on Sunday mornings, but issued his orders through one
of the other pigs, usually Squealer.

One Sunday morning Squealer announced that the hens, who had just come in
to lay again, must surrender their eggs. Napoleon had accepted, through
Whymper, a contract for four hundred eggs a week. The price of these would
pay for enough grain and meal to keep the farm going till summer came on
and conditions were easier.

When the hens heard this, they raised a terrible outcry. They had been
warned earlier that this sacrifice might be necessary, but had not
believed that it would really happen. They were just getting their
clutches ready for the spring sitting, and they protested that to take the
eggs away now was murder. For the first time since the expulsion of Jones,
there was something resembling a rebellion. Led by three young Black
Minorca pullets, the hens made a determined effort to thwart Napoleon's
wishes. Their method was to fly up to the rafters and there lay their
eggs, which smashed to pieces on the floor. Napoleon acted swiftly and
ruthlessly. He ordered the hens' rations to be stopped, and decreed that
any animal giving so much as a grain of corn to a hen should be punished
by death. The dogs saw to it that these orders were carried out. For five
days the hens held out, then they capitulated and went back to their
nesting boxes. Nine hens had died in the meantime. Their bodies were
buried in the orchard, and it was given out that they had died of
coccidiosis. Whymper heard nothing of this affair, and the eggs were duly
delivered, a grocer's van driving up to the farm once a week to take them

All this while no more had been seen of Snowball. He was rumoured to be
hiding on one of the neighbouring farms, either Foxwood or Pinchfield.
Napoleon was by this time on slightly better terms with the other farmers
than before. It happened that there was in the yard a pile of timber which
had been stacked there ten years earlier when a beech spinney was cleared.
It was well seasoned, and Whymper had advised Napoleon to sell it; both
Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick were anxious to buy it. Napoleon was
hesitating between the two, unable to make up his mind. It was noticed
that whenever he seemed on the point of coming to an agreement with
Frederick, Snowball was declared to be in hiding at Foxwood, while, when
he inclined toward Pilkington, Snowball was said to be at Pinchfield.

Suddenly, early in the spring, an alarming thing was discovered. Snowball
was secretly frequenting the farm by night! The animals were so disturbed
that they could hardly sleep in their stalls. Every night, it was said, he
came creeping in under cover of darkness and performed all kinds of
mischief. He stole the corn, he upset the milk-pails, he broke the eggs,
he trampled the seedbeds, he gnawed the bark off the fruit trees. Whenever
anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. If a
window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say
that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the
store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown
it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after
the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal. The cows declared
unanimously that Snowball crept into their stalls and milked them in their
sleep. The rats, which had been troublesome that winter, were also said to
be in league with Snowball.

Napoleon decreed that there should be a full investigation into Snowball's
activities. With his dogs in attendance he set out and made a careful tour
of inspection of the farm buildings, the other animals following at a
respectful distance. At every few steps Napoleon stopped and snuffed the
ground for traces of Snowball's footsteps, which, he said, he could detect
by the smell. He snuffed in every corner, in the barn, in the cow-shed,
in the henhouses, in the vegetable garden, and found traces of Snowball
almost everywhere. He would put his snout to the ground, give several deep
sniffs, ad exclaim in a terrible voice, "Snowball! He has been here! I can
smell him distinctly!" and at the word "Snowball" all the dogs let out
blood-curdling growls and showed their side teeth.

The animals were thoroughly frightened. It seemed to them as though
Snowball were some kind of invisible influence, pervading the air about
them and menacing them with all kinds of dangers. In the evening Squealer
called them together, and with an alarmed expression on his face told
them that he had some serious news to report.

"Comrades!" cried Squealer, making little nervous skips, "a most terrible
thing has been discovered. Snowball has sold himself to Frederick of
Pinchfield Farm, who is even now plotting to attack us and take our farm
away from us! Snowball is to act as his guide when the attack begins. But
there is worse than that. We had thought that Snowball's rebellion was
caused simply by his vanity and ambition. But we were wrong, comrades. Do
you know what the real reason was? Snowball was in league with Jones from
the very start! He was Jones's secret agent all the time. It has all been
proved by documents which he left behind him and which we have only just
discovered. To my mind this explains a great deal, comrades. Did we not
see for ourselves how he attempted--fortunately without success--to get us
defeated and destroyed at the Battle of the Cowshed?"

The animals were stupefied. This was a wickedness far outdoing Snowball's
destruction of the windmill. But it was some minutes before they could
fully take it in. They all remembered, or thought they remembered, how
they had seen Snowball charging ahead of them at the Battle of the
Cowshed, how he had rallied and encouraged them at every turn, and how he
had not paused for an instant even when the pellets from Jones's gun had
wounded his back. At first it was a little difficult to see how this
fitted in with his being on Jones's side. Even Boxer, who seldom asked
questions, was puzzled. He lay down, tucked his fore hoofs beneath him,
shut his eyes, and with a hard effort managed to formulate his thoughts.

"I do not believe that," he said. "Snowball fought bravely at the Battle
of the Cowshed. I saw him myself. Did we not give him 'Animal Hero, first
Class,' immediately afterwards?"

"That was our mistake, comrade. For we know now--it is all written down in
the secret documents that we have found--that in reality he was trying to
lure us to our doom."

"But he was wounded," said Boxer. "We all saw him running with blood."

"That was part of the arrangement!" cried Squealer. "Jones's shot only
grazed him. I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to
read it. The plot was for Snowball, at the critical moment, to give the
signal for flight and leave the field to the enemy. And he very nearly
succeeded--I will even say, comrades, he WOULD have succeeded if it had
not been for our heroic Leader, Comrade Napoleon. Do you not remember how,
just at the moment when Jones and his men had got inside the yard,
Snowball suddenly turned and fled, and many animals followed him? And do
you not remember, too, that it was just at that moment, when panic was
spreading and all seemed lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a
cry of 'Death to Humanity!' and sank his teeth in Jones's leg? Surely you
remember THAT, comrades?" exclaimed Squealer, frisking from side to side.

Now when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the
animals that they did remember it. At any rate, they remembered that at
the critical moment of the battle Snowball had turned to flee. But Boxer
was still a little uneasy.

"I do not believe that Snowball was a traitor at the beginning," he said
finally. "What he has done since is different. But I believe that at the
Battle of the Cowshed he was a good comrade."

"Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon," announced Squealer, speaking very slowly
and firmly, "has stated categorically--categorically, comrade--that
Snowball was Jones's agent from the very beginning--yes, and from long
before the Rebellion was ever thought of."

"Ah, that is different!" said Boxer. "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must
be right."

"That is the true spirit, comrade!" cried Squealer, but it was noticed he
cast a very ugly look at Boxer with his little twinkling eyes. He turned
to go, then paused and added impressively: "I warn every animal on this
farm to keep his eyes very wide open. For we have reason to think that
some of Snowball's secret agents are lurking among us at this moment!"

Four days later, in the late afternoon, Napoleon ordered all the animals
to assemble in the yard. When they were all gathered together, Napoleon
emerged from the farmhouse, wearing both his medals (for he had recently
awarded himself "Animal Hero, First Class", and "Animal Hero, Second
Class"), with his nine huge dogs frisking round him and uttering growls
that sent shivers down all the animals' spines. They all cowered silently
in their places, seeming to know in advance that some terrible thing was
about to happen.

Napoleon stood sternly surveying his audience; then he uttered a
high-pitched whimper. Immediately the dogs bounded forward, seized four of
the pigs by the ear and dragged them, squealing with pain and terror, to
Napoleon's feet. The pigs' ears were bleeding, the dogs had tasted blood,
and for a few moments they appeared to go quite mad. To the amazement of
everybody, three of them flung themselves upon Boxer. Boxer saw them
coming and put out his great hoof, caught a dog in mid-air, and pinned
him to the ground. The dog shrieked for mercy and the other two fled with
their tails between their legs. Boxer looked at Napoleon to know whether
he should crush the dog to death or let it go. Napoleon appeared to change
countenance, and sharply ordered Boxer to let the dog go, whereat Boxer
lifted his hoof, and the dog slunk away, bruised and howling.

Presently the tumult died down. The four pigs waited, trembling, with
guilt written on every line of their countenances. Napoleon now called
upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as had
protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. Without any further
prompting they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with
Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in
destroying the windmill, and that they had entered into an agreement with
him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick. They added that Snowball
had privately admitted to them that he had been Jones's secret agent for
years past. When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly
tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether
any other animal had anything to confess.

The three hens who had been the ringleaders in the attempted rebellion
over the eggs now came forward and stated that Snowball had appeared to
them in a dream and incited them to disobey Napoleon's orders. They, too,
were slaughtered. Then a goose came forward and confessed to having
secreted six ears of corn during the last year's harvest and eaten them in
the night. Then a sheep confessed to having urinated in the drinking
pool--urged to do this, so she said, by Snowball--and two other sheep
confessed to having murdered an old ram, an especially devoted follower of
Napoleon, by chasing him round and round a bonfire when he was suffering
from a cough. They were all slain on the spot. And so the tale of
confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses
lying before Napoleon's feet and the air was heavy with the smell of
blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones.

When it was all over, the remaining animals, except for the pigs and dogs,
crept away in a body. They were shaken and miserable. They did not know
which was more shocking--the treachery of the animals who had leagued
themselves with Snowball, or the cruel retribution they had just
witnessed. In the old days there had often been scenes of bloodshed
equally terrible, but it seemed to all of them that it was far worse now
that it was happening among themselves. Since Jones had left the farm,
until today, no animal had killed another animal. Not even a rat had been
killed. They had made their way on to the little knoll where the
half-finished windmill stood, and with one accord they all lay down as
though huddling together for warmth--Clover, Muriel, Benjamin, the cows,
the sheep, and a whole flock of geese and hens--everyone, indeed, except
the cat, who had suddenly disappeared just before Napoleon ordered the
animals to assemble. For some time nobody spoke. Only Boxer remained on
his feet. He fidgeted to and fro, swishing his long black tail against his
sides and occasionally uttering a little whinny of surprise. Finally he

"I do not understand it. I would not have believed that such things could
happen on our farm. It must be due to some fault in ourselves. The
solution, as I see it, is to work harder. From now onwards I shall get up
a full hour earlier in the mornings."

And he moved off at his lumbering trot and made for the quarry. Having got
there, he collected two successive loads of stone and dragged them down to
the windmill before retiring for the night.

The animals huddled about Clover, not speaking. The knoll where they were
lying gave them a wide prospect across the countryside. Most of Animal
Farm was within their view--the long pasture stretching down to the main
road, the hayfield, the spinney, the drinking pool, the ploughed fields
where the young wheat was thick and green, and the red roofs of the farm
buildings with the smoke curling from the chimneys. It was a clear spring
evening. The grass and the bursting hedges were gilded by the level rays
of the sun. Never had the farm--and with a kind of surprise they
remembered that it was their own farm, every inch of it their own
property--appeared to the animals so desirable a place. As Clover looked
down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her
thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed
at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the
human race. These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had
looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to
rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been
of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each
working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak, as she
had protected the lost brood of ducklings with her foreleg on the night of
Major's speech. Instead--she did not know why--they had come to a time
when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed
everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after
confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or
disobedience in her mind. She knew that, even as things were, they were
far better off than they had been in the days of Jones, and that before
all else it was needful to prevent the return of the human beings.
Whatever happened she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the
orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. But
still, it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped
and toiled. It was not for this that they had built the windmill and faced
the bullets of Jones's gun. Such were her thoughts, though she lacked the
words to express them.

At last, feeling this to be in some way a substitute for the words she was
unable to find, she began to sing 'Beasts of England'. The other animals
sitting round her took it up, and they sang it three times over--very
tunefully, but slowly and mournfully, in a way they had never sung it

They had just finished singing it for the third time when Squealer,
attended by two dogs, approached them with the air of having something
important to say. He announced that, by a special decree of Comrade
Napoleon, 'Beasts of England' had been abolished. From now onwards it was
forbidden to sing it.

The animals were taken aback.

"Why?" cried Muriel.

"It's no longer needed, comrade," said Squealer stiffly. "'Beasts of
England' was the song of the Rebellion. But the Rebellion is now
completed. The execution of the traitors this afternoon was the final act.
The enemy both external and internal has been defeated. In 'Beasts of
England' we expressed our longing for a better society in days to come.
But that society has now been established. Clearly this song has no longer
any purpose."

Frightened though they were, some of the animals might possibly have
protested, but at this moment the sheep set up their usual bleating of
"Four legs good, two legs bad," which went on for several minutes and put
an end to the discussion.

So 'Beasts of England' was heard no more. In its place Minimus, the poet,
had composed another song which began:

Animal Farm, Animal Farm,
Never through me shalt thou come to harm!

and this was sung every Sunday morning after the hoisting of the flag.
But somehow neither the words nor the tune ever seemed to the animals to
come up to 'Beasts of England'.

< Back
Forward >

Index Index

  • Other Authors:    
> Charles Darwin
> Charles Dickens
> Mark Twain
> William Shakespeare

George Orwell. Copyright 2003,
Contact the webmaster
Disclaimer here. Privacy Policy here.