One of the things that I did not understand about Animal Farm is why the animals, after the hen's rebellion, simply came forward to confess their crimes.

Napoleon offers no incentive for coming forward. He does not threaten anything against animals that have committed a crime and do not confess, nor does he offer any inclination that he even knows who has committed any crime, other than obviously understanding that there must have been ringleaders in the hen's uprising.

Yet, having seen other animals executed by the dogs for committing crimes, animals continue to come forward and admit that they broke the law, and are summarily executed in front of the rest of the congregated animals.

Particularly the rebellion leaders coming forward first seemed particularly strange, as they must have known their punishment would be severe. They were already questioning the authority of Napoleon, so to suddenly submit to him would surely be in their worst interests?

There is also no hint that these were false confessions manufactured by the pigs in order to establish a firm hand against dissenters, mostly because I can't see how anyone would be encouraged to confess falsely if they had just witnessed that their punishment would be death.

And if the hens who did spearhead the rebellion were not the ones who confessed and were executed, then I can't imagine that the pigs would quash the rebellion effectively, it would simply strengthen the resolve of the hens who started the first rebellion.

Did this somehow reflect a real event that happened in Russia? And if it did, was it accurately represented in terms of people confessing their own crimes and being punished after witnessing the punishments of others?


1 Answer 1


I believe this is in reference to the Moscow Trials, a series of show trials during Stalin's Great Purge. Of particular interest is how Nikolay Krestinsky repudiated his written confession in open court, and then reversed his position the next day, presumably after being tortured. Confessions didn't make much of a difference for Stalin. Once accused, you knew what was going to happen.

  • did it really matter anyway what he did? I would think the press would not publish stuff like that anyway and will just write that he confessed. Dec 27, 2019 at 19:46

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