Curriculum Vital

    The Education Umbrella Guide to Animal Farm 
    Chapter six summary and analysis

    This page is part of the Education Umbrella Guide to Animal Farm, which contains a summary and analysis of every chapter, as well as character profiles, clasroom activities and an introduction to George Orwell's life and work. 

    Chapter summary

    The animals work very hard to complete the windmill. Napoleon increases the working week to 60 hours, and introduces work on a Sunday afternoon that is described as 'voluntary' but in reality is compulsory. Boxer works harder than ever and is greatly admired by everyone.

    Napoleon announces that in order to secure certain materials that are necessary for the windmill, Animal Farm will begin trading with other farms. He hires a human named Mr Whymper as the farm's lawyer. The animals are sure such a thing is forbidden, but Squealer assures them that they are mistaken. The humans on neighbouring farms still hate Animal Farm, but also have a grudging respect for it, and begin calling it by its real name.

    The pigs move into the farmhouse, and again Squealer convinces the animals that this is necessary and justified. He also begins calling Napoleon 'Leader'. The pigs then begin sleeping in the beds, and the animals suddenly realise that the Fourth of the Seven Commandments reads, 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets'. The pigs also begin waking up an hour later. Squealer convinces the animals to accept all of this with his usual argument that it is the only way to prevent Jones from coming back.

    By November the windmill is half-finished, but is then destroyed in a storm. Napoleon blames the destruction on Snowball. He offers a medal to anyone who captures Snowball alive, and orders the animals to rebuild the windmill.

    Analysis of key passages and events

    Collectivisation - The 'voluntary' Sunday afternoon work

    Throughout the spring and summer they worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.

    In 1928 Stalin introduced 'collectivisation' in the countryside, which, along with rapid industrialisation, was part of his 'Five-Year Plan.' Collectivisation required peasants to surrender their land and crops to the village. The theory was that by pooling their resources the peasants would be better off. Initially the policy was voluntary, but when most of the peasantry declined to participate Stalin made it compulsory.

    Alexey Stakhanov – Boxer

    Nothing could have been achieved without Boxer, whose strength seemed equal to that of all the rest of the animals put together. When the boulder began to slip and the animals cried out in despair at finding themselves dragged down the hill, it was always Boxer who strained himself against the rope and brought the boulder to a stop. To see him toiling up the slope inch by inch, his breath coming fast, the tips of his hoofs clawing at the ground and his great sides matted with sweat, filled everyone with admiration.

    As we have learnt, Boxer represents the working class of the Soviet Union. During Stalin's first 'Five-Year Plan' factories and enterprises were set production targets. The penalties for failure were severe, the rewards for success great. Workers who exceeded their targets became national celebrities. One such celebrity was a coal miner named Alexey Stakhanov. On 31 August, 1935, he mined 102 tonnes of coal in five hours and 45 minutes, 14 times his quota. His superhuman work-rate made him a national hero, and he even appeared on the cover of Time magazine in the United States. The Bolsheviks praised Stakhanov and encouraged others to follow his example. Those who did became knows as 'Stakhanovites'.

    The USSR begins trading with the west – Animal Farm begins trading with neighbouring farms

    One Sunday morning when the animals assembled to receive their orders Napoleon announced that he had decided upon a new policy. From now onwards Animal Farm would engage in trade with the neighbouring farms: not, of course, for any commercial purpose but simply in order to obtain certain materials which were urgently necessary.

    We think of Stalin now as an unshakeable dictator, but in 1928, when he launched his ambitious 'Five-Year Plan,' his position was not wholly secure. He knew that if the plan failed he would face a serious challenge to his leadership. His plans were impossible, however, without the necessary machinery and parts. Where the animals of Animal Farm need 'paraffin oil, nails, string, dog biscuits and iron for the horses' shoes, none of which could be produced on the farm', the Soviet Union needed sophisticated machinery and expertise in order to meet its industrial targets. To have home-grown experts capable of designing and building such machinery was one reason why the Bolsheviks aimed for 100% literacy, but this would take more than a decade to achieve. In the meantime, the Bolsheviks had to look to western Europe and the USA.

    Recall that in chapter six there are 'constant rumours that Napoleon was about to enter into a definite business agreement either with Mr Pilkington of Foxwood or with Mr Frederick of Pinchfield — but never, it was noticed, with both simultaneously.' After launching his 'Five-Year Plan,' Stalin began selling his country's grain to finance the purchase of modern machinery from both Germany and the USA. When the grain did not bring in enough revenue, the USSR secured loans from western banks, who welcomed the new business, especially after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

    Read the full summary and analysis of this and every chapter, as well as character profiles, classroom activities and more, in our guide.