Two passages: then hens’ rebellion (p. 56) and the animals’ confessions (p. 62)
Excerpt 1: the hens’ subversion
The first signs of a “rebellion” emerge after Napoleon gives the orders to the pigs to confiscate and “trade” the eggs with Whymper, on a neighbouring farm. This order undermines the Major’s philosophy about economics and trade with the farmers. The Major states that there are no grounds for economic compatibility between humans and animals. The inability to hatch their eggs also undermines the hen’s roles autonomy. (56) Typically, Napoleon justifies this transgression with the excuse that the trade will benefit the animals on the farm. However, as Orwell also implies, this means that the pigs will reap the benefit.
The hens refuse to comply with the order and hide in the rafters. This prompts a very, stern and “ruthless” response from Napoleon, thus foreshadowing the violence to come. Orwell uses authoritative language to depict Napoleon’s tendency to divide and rule. His reaction is swift, powerful and divisive: “He decreed that any animal giving so much as a grain of corn to a hen should be punished by death”. The dogs execute Napoleon’s orders. The rulers cover up the circumstances of the deaths. By using the passive voice, and the impersonal subject, “it”, Orwell implies that the pigs are being deceptive with regards to the circumstances of their death: “It had been given out that they had died of coccidiosis”. Napoleon’s brutal and divisive tactics prove capable of quelling any resistance. The reference to their deaths also undermines another commandment, which is that no animal shall kill another. The economic trade continues.
Excerpt 2: The hens’ confessions (p. 62)
Napoleon consolidates his rule through fear and violence. During one of the meetings, he extracts confessions from the animals which are systematically slaughtered. The hens that were “ringleaders” during the attempted rebellion “confess” their crimes and are also slaughtered. Orwell suggests that Snowball is used as the scapegoat who apparently plants the seed of rebellion. He is accused of being Jones’s secret agent and is therefore cast as the one who begins the rebellious activities on the farm. This incident is particularly significant because it undermines the commandment that no animal should kill another. Orwell includes a list of the confessions, such as “urinating in the drinking pool” which are trivial in nature. Orwell suggests their main crime is subversion.
Orwell describes the carnage in graphic terms to highlight the brutality. The accused “traitors” are “slain on the spot” There is a “pile of corpses lying at Napoleon’s feet” . There is a suggestion that the dogs and Napoleon have been encouraged to kill because of the “smell of blood” and show no mercy towards the animals.
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