What role does Boxer play on the farm? In what ways might one view the betrayal of Boxer as an alternative climax to the novel (considering the banishment of Snowball & the pigs' consolidation of power as the true climax)?
In Orwell’s Animal Farm, Boxer is the manual laborer, who’s not very smart; he’s only able to learn the first few letters of the alphabet. He is quite thoroughly controlled by the pigs’ propaganda delivered through squealer. In the story, he is the primary force behind the building of the windmill. Boxer embraces that role and he only allows himself to consider the possibility of retirement after there is sufficient stone accumulated for the building of the windmill.
If Napoleon is threatened by Boxer at all (and I’m not convinced of this), it is because of Boxer’s brute strength. If motivated to do so, Boxer could easily kill Napoleon or the dogs (his Gestapo) that so thoroughly intimidate the other animals.
At the time of the expulsion of Snowball, the animals still had a glimmer of hope for their own improved futures. When Boxer is discarded, it represents the absolute betrayal (not only of Boxer) but of all the animals and the ideals of the revolution. All the events following Boxer’s death could be categorized as “falling action.”