What does the death of Boxer symbolize in Animal Farm?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boxer is strong, generous, and blindly loyal to Animal Farm and to Napoleon. He gives his all for the farm, working harder than anyone else to make the society work. So his death is symbolic for a number of reasons, all of which show how far the animals' revolution has become. On the one hand, it harkens back to a warning that Old Major gave in his speech at the beginning of the book. Pointing out that animals were not allowed to live out their lives to their natural end, Old Major says:

You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds. 

But the reader, and some of the animals, realize that it is not Jones who sells Boxer to the knacker, but Napoleon. This shows the extent to which the pigs have become what they fought to overthrow, as it is not only something that Jones would have done, but also a violation of the pigs' promise that older animals would be able to retire with a pension. Additionally, the whole episode demonstrates how Napoleon, through Squealer, is able to control information on the farm. Benjamin notices that the van, ostensibly sent from the vetenarian, actually bears the logo:

‘Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.’ 

Frantically, the animals chase after the van, and are angry that their friend has been sent to the knacker. Squealer responds by telling the animals that he himself had been with Boxer when he died, and Napoleon gives a speech in his honor. In response to allegations that the van was in fact the knacker's wagon, he tells the animals that the van had in fact once belonged to the knacker, but had been sold to the vet. The animals believed this preposterous explanation, and reproached themselves for believing that Napoleon could have been responsible for selling Boxer off to his death. So the incident is evidence of how effective the pigs are at manipulating the truth.

maryam-a412 | Student

Boxer symbolised the working class who are downright loyal to their leaders. they blindingly sincere and are the sweat and blood of any leader. boxer's death culminates the treachery and betrayal of pigs. the leaders pay no heed to all the hard work boxer did and repay him with nothing but slaughtering him. no respect is payed to him. it shows the attitude of the leaders towards their people, their faithful followers. this scene accentuates the inhuman leaders who are devoid of sincerity to their people.