Study Guide

Animal Farm Lies and Deceit

By George Orwell

Lies and Deceit

Chapter 2

All the other male pigs on the farm were porkers. The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white. (2.2)

Squealer is a one-pig propaganda machine: he takes the unpleasant realities (no food, pigs sleeping in beds) and turns them into delicious lies (lots of food; piggies resting their brains to better help you). Also, we kind of wish we could win arguments by swishing our tails.

Chapter 3
Squealer (a pig)

"Comrades!" he cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." (3.14)

Dear Shmoopers, it's so hard to have to eat all of this delicious chocolate cake. We really wish you could have it. But we need it, because otherwise we simply don't have the energy to Shmoop Animal Farm. It's for your benefit, really. Trust us.

Chapter 5
Squealer (a pig)

"Comrades," he said, "I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills– Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?" (5.19)

Gee, Squealer paints a dire picture. Like, maybe if they'd decided to follow Snowball, they'd … have a windmill. That would just be terrible.

Chapter 7

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. (7.25)

Um, it might be just us, but watching animals confess and then get their throats torn out doesn't seem like the best way to inspire a feeling of confidence and sharing. Luckily, Napoleon is just as happy to force a false confession as he is to wait for a real one.

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. (7.4)

Clever, clever. Napoleon can't actually get the land to produce food, so he makes it up. (Well, there's always the option of sharing the milk and apples with the rest of the animals, but we're guessing that's not going to fly.)

Squealer (a pig)

"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. (7.17)

Hm. It sure is convenient for Squealer's lies that most of the animals can't read. (And that there aren't any smartphone cameras around.) Without the ability to read, the animals are basically willing victims.

Chapter 8

Two days later the animals were called together for a special meeting in the barn. They were struck dumb with surprise when Napoleon announced that he had sold the pile of timber to Frederick. Tomorrow Frederick's wagons would arrive and begin carting it away. Throughout the whole period of his seeming friendship with Pilkington, Napoleon had really been in secret agreement with Frederick. (8.11)

At least Napoleon isn't just deceiving the animals. He's fooling—or at least trying to fool—the humans, as well. Unfortunately for this little piggy, Mr. Frederick has a few tricks of his own.

Chapter 9
Squealer (a pig)

It had come to his knowledge, he said, that a foolish and wicked rumour had been circulated at the time of Boxer's removal. Some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer away was marked "Horse Slaughterer," and had actually jumped to the conclusion that Boxer was being sent to the knacker's. It was almost unbelievable, said Squealer, that any animal could be so stupid. Surely, he cried indignantly, whisking his tail and skipping from side to side, surely they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that? But the explanation was really very simple. The van had previously been the property of the knacker, and had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the old name out. That was how the mistake had arisen. (9.28)

How ironic: the one time the animals are actually being smart—by noticing that the van is painted with "Horse Slaughterer"—Squealer actually tries to convince them that they're being stupid. Apparently, he succeeds.

Chapter 10
Napoleon (a pig)

Like all of Napoleon's speeches, it was short and to the point. He too, he said, was happy that the period of misunderstanding was at an end. For a long time there had been rumours-circulated, he had reason to think, by some malignant enemy-that there was something subversive and even revolutionary in the outlook of himself and his colleagues. They had been credited with attempting to stir up rebellion among the animals on neighbouring farms. Nothing could be further from the truth! Their sole wish, now and in the past, was to live at peace and in normal business relations with their neighbours. This farm which he had the honour to control, he added, was a co-operative enterprise. The title-deeds, which were in his own possession, were owned by the pigs jointly. (10.29)

Napoleon is telling the farm animals one thing—that all animals are equal; that everyone is working together—and he's telling the humans another thing: that the pigs are co-owners of the farm. And you know what? These lies seem to be working out pretty well for him.

But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. (10.34)

Our question: does this mean that one of them is playing fair? And if so, who? Or are they actually both cheating? Knowing Orwell, that last one seems most likely.