GCSE Animal Farm – Character Profile: Boxer
Orwell uses Boxer to represent the Russian working class who worked hard in appalling conditions to try to achieve the unattainable goals set by the government, for no reward.
Boxer is a loyal, simple and hardworking cart-horse. He is a devoted follower of Animalism and it is due to his labour that the farm is initially successful. Boxer is the hardest worker in the farm. When any challenges happen, he tries to overcome them by working harder. He is unquestioning and selfless. He is also as strong as “any two horses put together.”
Battle of the Cowshed
At the Battle of the Cowshed, Boxer fights very bravely and is awarded ‘Animal Hero, First Class.’ However, he also shows how compassionate and gentle he is as well. He tries to use as little force as possible during the fight and tries not to hurt the young farm boy. The animals all respect Boxer and his calm, stable manner and his tremendous ability to work. Sadly, Napoleon and Squealer take advantage of this and try to encourage the others to be as hardworking as Boxer, but purely for their own benefit. When Boxer starts to witness some of the terrible things which Napoleon and the other pigs do at the farm, rather than speaking up against them or questioning them, he just works harder. He overworks himself for the good of the farm, but in the end it is his downfall. Even after the Battle of the Cowshed, where Boxer is injured, he still refuses to lighten his load.
Boxer trusts the pigs completely and believes that they are following the rules of animalism and continuing with the work which Old Major started. He doesn’t see that they have manipulated and twisted the rules to meet their own needs. Even after Napoleon’s show trials and executions, Boxer still believes in the rules, even though by this time he does have some misgivings about what they are doing. With Boxer’s continuing commitment to the pigs, the other animals are inspired to keep working and trying harder. Boxer is such a kind and caring horse, that he cannot imagine any of the animals being cruel or manipulative. In this way, he is much the same as Old Major, who had every faith in the animals and their commitment to equality and being good towards each other.
A useful tool
However, the pigs just see Boxer as a useful tool. If Boxer is on their side then the other animals may follow more easily. They have no commitment for Boxer or appreciation what he does for them. When Boxer collapses and becomes ill, he still believes in the pigs and that they will get him the best treatment and let him retire at the farm. His loyalty and faith in them is unquestioning, even until the end.
What Napoleon and the pigs actually do is sell Boxer to the knacker’s yard. This just shows how ruthless and corrupt they have become. The reader cannot helped but be shocked by the pigs buying whisky from the money they get for Boxer. This feels like such a terrible betrayal to Boxer and everything he has done for the pigs, the farm and for animalism.
What is worse is that Squealer also lies to the other animals and says that Napoleon did everything possible to try to save Boxer and that he got the best treatment possible. Benjamin realises that Boxer has been set up, but by that time it is too late to save him. Boxer’s dedication to animalism has been for nothing.