Animal Farm

How were the rumors of Snowball used to manipulate the animals?

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In Chapter Seven, Napoleon increases the amount of propaganda on Animal Farm in order to distract the animals from their hardships and frustrations. Squealer, his agent as usual, cultivates the idea that Snowball is lurking on the perimeter of Animal Farm and plotting mischief against the animals. Napoleon also makes a personal and very public show of claiming to smell Snowball’s scent all around the farm. By giving the impression that Snowball is everywhere, Napoleon at ones makes Snowball, a concrete entity, into a nebulous threat and creates an atmosphere of almost palpable fear: “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” (89). By personally investigating Snowball’s whereabouts, Napoleon keeps himself tied to the greater good in the public’s eyes. At once, they feel frightened and also cared for, but they attribute the former feeling to Snowball and the latter to Napoleon.

Soon enough, Napoleon turns Snowball from an outside threat into a pervasive internal threat. Boxer unwittingly gives Squealer the idea when he protests Squealer’s revision of Snowball’s heroism. Only after Boxer challenges him does Squealer first warn the animals that Snowball’s secret agents have infiltrated their ranks. Here, Orwell satirizes Stalin’s intensification of fear tactics. In Stalin’s Soviet Union, people of every gender, age, and profession were suspected of treachery. Many were forced to confess to things they did not do, all in the name of keeping the public subdued by fear. At this point, we should recall that the Red Terror, the first organized attempt to stamp out anti-Communist sentiment in the Soviet Union, was Lenin’s prerogative. Therefore it predated Trotsky and Stalin’s debates as well as Trotsky’s expulsion. It stands to reason that Orwell skips over the Red Terror in order to assign all terrorist tactics to Napoleon (as opposed to including Snowball). Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War, in which he fought on the side of Trotskyists, may have informed this omission as well.