What happened to Boxer in Chapter 9 of Animal Farm by George Orwell?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In Animal Farm, by George Orwell, Boxer is one of the hardest working of all the animals. By Chapter 9, he is close to what was considered retirement age by the animals. As a matter of fact, it had been determined early in the story that horses would be able to retire at age twelve and have a "liberal old age pension." Unfortunately for Boxer, with Napoleon in command and thirty one new piglets to feed, the farm was having a tough time making ends meet. Boxer had a hurt hoof but kept on working and would not let the other animals see his pain.

"Boxer refused to take even a day off work, and made it a point of honour not to let it be seen that he was in pain. In the evenings he would admit privately to Clover that the hoof troubled him a great deal." (Orwell 114)

One day while the animals were working, Boxer collapsed. Squealer convinced the animals that a human veterinarian could take better care of him than they could, so for the next couple of days, Boxer was allowed to stay in his stall to begin to recover. Then, while the other animals were working, a van showed up, and the animals thought the veterinarian had come, so they all gathered around to say goodbye to Boxer.

"'Fools! Fools!' shouted Benjamin, prancing round them and stamping the earth with his small hoofs. 'Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?'" (Orwell 123)

Too late, the animals realized Boxer was being taken to the knacker, where horses are slaughtered, and their bones are turned into glue.

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