Boxer

Boxer, featuring labels that highlight him as a great worker, trusting and having limited intelligence

Boxer, a horse, is a tragic hero. He is a hard worker, strong, loyal and caring. He also fights bravely against the humans. Unfortunately, he is too loyal, the pigs take advantage of this and work him until he collapses. Then they sell him to the horse slaughterer so that they can buy more whisky. Whenever something goes wrong, he blames himself and vows to work even harder.

His favourite sayings are 'Napoleon is always right' and 'I will work harder'. He is the strongest animal and could easily fight off the pigs and dogs. He never does though, as he is too used to taking orders.

How is Boxer like this?Evidence from the textAnalysis
TrustingBoxer shows that he is trusting in his loyalty to the pigs."Napoleon is always right."Boxer believes everything that Napoleon tells him. The language is simple and reflects Boxer's naivety, he is the strongest animal on the farm but does nothing when conditions get worse.
Great workerBoxer's efforts to make the windmill show he is a great worker.To see him toiling up the slope inch by inch, his breath coming fast, the tips of his hoofs clawing at the ground, and his great sides matted with sweat, filled everyone with admiration.This description of Boxer is very emotive and inspirational. It shows how hard he works. The image of him dragging huge rocks whilst dripping with sweat shows his great strength. He never complains or lacks motivation.
Limited intelligenceBoxer is uneducated and struggles to express himself and his thoughts.He set his ears back, shook his forelock several times and tried to marshal his thoughts; but in the end he could not think of anything to say.Unfortunately, Boxer, like a lot of the other animals, except the pigs, lacks an education. Orwell uses Boxer to show that without the benefit of learning, he cannot express himself and so he will never be able to speak out against the pigs.

Social and historical context

Photo of Russian ship workers, around 1900.
Russian shipworkers, around 1900

Boxer represents the peasant workers of Russia. They were exploited by the Tsar Nicholas II who ruled from 1894 until his expulsion in 1917. The workers were kept in a position where they never earned enough money to pay for food or accommodation.

The Revolution of 1917 sought to address this problem but only led to more hardship and starvation under the rule of Stalin.

Analysing the evidence

quote
Boxer, who has now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." And from then on he adopted the maxim, "Napoleon is always right," in addition to his private motto of "I will work harder." Description of Boxer
Question

Looking at this extract from the book, explain why Boxer doesn't lead his own rebellion against the pigs when he is the strongest animal on the farm.

How to analyse the quote:

'Boxer, who has now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." And from then on he adopted the maxim, "Napoleon is always right," in addition to his private motto of "I will work harder."

  • 'If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right' - Boxer is unable to think for himself.
  • 'Napoleon is always right' - Boxer is far too trusting of the pigs and not intelligent enough to question them.

How to use this in an essay:

Despite being the strongest animal on the farm, Boxer cannot lead a rebellion of his own against the pigs. His inability is summed up in just a few quotes. Firstly, 'If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right,' shows that Boxer cannot think for himself and fears taking the initiative. One of his other quotes is "Napoleon is always right." This simple statement in plain language shows why he would never take power from the pigs - he is too trusting and perhaps too simple to question the decisions the pigs make. He fears showing initiative. He focuses all his power on working for the pigs which is eventually what leads to his downfall.