We are first introduced to Snowball after the pigs take charge of spreading Old Major’s message on the farm. We learn, “Snowball was a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character” (2.2). It is hard to know exactly what the narrator means by “depth of character.” If he means anything like moral character, then it becomes clear, as the story goes on, that Snowball is no more lacking than Napoleon.
After Snowball is chased off by Napoleon's vicious dogs and turned into a scapegoat, it’s easy to over-correct Napoleon’s propaganda and imagine Snowball a great and noble pig. In the early chapters, though, it is clear that Snowball has as many faults as he does strengths. Though Snowball plays an important role in the Rebellion and helps set up the Seven Commandments, he is also the one to reduce the commandments to the simplistic line “four legs good, two legs bad” (3.9). It is the very simplicity of the line that later allows the sheep to bleat it over Snowball's speeches. When the other animals protest the pigs taking all the milk for their mash, Snowball is united with Napoleon in claiming that the milk is necessary for their brainwork. In other words, though Snowball isn’t around when the pigs turn Animal Farm into a dictatorship, he goes along with the first steps before he gets elbowed out.
After Snowball leads the animals to victory at the Battle of Cowshed, a divide begins to open up between him and Napoleon. We learn that he is a much better public speaker, and that he “often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times” (5.8). In other words, Snowball is much less of a schemer than Napoleon. Snowball may only be exciting the crowds with empty speeches, but he at least seeks out their support directly instead of acting behind the scenes.
The divide between...