What happens to Boxer in George Orwell's Animal Farm, and why is it so tragic?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boxer is a very loyal and hardworking horse in the book Animal Farm. He is strong and dependable but not very smart. He thinks in short slogans, such as "Napoleon is always right," and his personal mantra, "I will work harder." Even when he is helping build the windmill and collapses, he thinks of the others before himself. Despite his work ethic and his loyalty to the farm and to Napoleon, Napoleon sells him off to the "knacker," where he will be killed. This is tragic because Boxer truly believes he will live out his old years on the farm. He has earned his retirement in every way. Boxer was valiant as a soldier during the Cowshed Rebellion. He always did what he was asked and expected nothing but the best from himself.  Yet, his "reward" in the end is death.