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Animal Farm: Chapter VIII - Summary

Once the terror abates, some of the animals recall the Sixth Commandment, “No animal shall kill any other animal.” Clover again asks Muriel to read to her from the wall, only to find that the Sixth Commandment has been changed to: “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause” (98). Clover and Muriel convince themselves that the commandment has always been that way and decide that treachery justifies murder after all. The animals work even harder than in the previous year. On Sundays Squealerassures them, by reading statistics from a sheet of paper, that their efforts are increasing production many times over. The animals can do nothing but believe Squealer. They can scarcely remember life before the Rebellion.

Napoleon restricts his public appearances further to about once a month. He is said to eat separately from the other pigs, using the fine china. He also decrees that the gun be fired every year on his birthday. The animals now call Napoleon “our Leader, Comrade Napoleon.” Just as the animals attribute all misfortunes toSnowball, they now attribute all success and luck to Napoleon. Minimus composes a poem called “Comrade Napoleon,” which Napoleon has inscribed on the wall across from the Seven Commandments, where Squealer also paints his portrait.

Napoleon continues to negotiate with Mr.Frederick and Mr. Pilkington, though the timber remains unsold. Rumors of Mr. Frederick’s plans to overthrow the farm continue. In the summer, three hens confess to plotting against Napoleon’s life and are executed instantly. After that, Napoleon increases his security even more and enlists a pig namedPinkeye to be his taster, lest someone attempt to poison him. Napoleon finally agrees to sell the timber to Pilkington, as well as to engage in regular trade with Foxwood. Meanwhile, rumors about Frederick’s coming invasion, as well as his cruel practices at Pinchfield, begin to circulate. One day, Napoleon announces that he never planned to do business with Frederick at all. He makes the messenger pigeons change their slogan from “Death to Humanity” to “Death to Frederick” (103). He also, strangely, forbids them from going to Foxwood.

The wheat fields turn out to be filled with weeds, a misfortune that the animals blame promptly on Snowball. A gander confesses to knowing about the plot to mix weed seeds with the wheat seeds and commits suicide. To bring further ignominy upon Snowball’s memory, Squealer disseminates a rumor that Snowball never received the title of “Animal Hero, First Class” at all. As usual, he is able to quell any questions that arise from his rewriting of history.

At last the windmill is finished, with walls twice as thick as before. The animals are very proud of their achievement. Napoleon names the windmill “Napoleon Mill.” Two days later, Napoleon calls a meeting to announce that he has sold the timber to Frederick, not Pilkington. He denounces Foxwood and makes the pigeons change their slogan to “Death to Pilkington.” Napoleon claims that Frederick had never planned to invade Animal Farm and that he was not as cruel as rumored. Moreover, Snowball has never been at Foxwood or been Frederick’s collaborator; in reality, he has been Pilkington’s longtime collaborator. The pigs are proud of Napoleon’s shrewdness. They believe Napoleon’s claim that his relationship with Pilkington was just a pretense to get Frederick to raise his bid. Even cleverer, Napoleon refused to let Frederick pay for the timber with a check, instead demanding cash that he will use to buy the windmill machinery. Napoleon goes so far as to hold a special meeting where the animals can inspect the banknotes.

Three days later, Whymper informs Napoleon that the banknotes are forgeries. Napoleon sentences Frederick to death by boiling alive and tries to reconcile with Pilkington. The next morning, Frederick and his armed men overtake the farm. Napoleon considers calling Pilkington for help, but Pilkington sends a note that says, “Serves you right.” As the animals watch helplessly, Frederick and his men blow up the windmill. After that, the animals put up a fight and manage to chase the men off. Squealer, who was not in the battle, has the gun fired as a sign of victory. For the first time, Boxer’s faith in the value of hard work begins to flag. However, Napoleon devotes two days to celebrating the victory at the newly named Battle of the Windmill and burying the slain. He also gives himself the title, “Order of the Green Banner.”

A few days later, the pigs discover a store of whisky, which they begin consuming. The morning after, the pigs do not show up for work. Squealer finally emerges to inform the animals that Napoleon is dying, a fact that the animals blame on Snowball. He announces Napoleon’s final declaration: drinking alcohol should be punishable by death. However, Napoleon recovers and, soon after, asks Whymper to procure information on how to brew alcohol. He also designates a field for the propagation of barley. Soon after, a strange episode occurs. One midnight, a crash in the barn awakens the animals. They rush there only to discover Squealer with a broken ladder and a can of paint.Benjamin seems to understand what is happening but declines to share his insight with the others. However, a few days later, Muriel notices that the Fifth Commandment has been changed from “No animal shall drink alcohol” to “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess” (113).

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