In what way is the sale and eventual slaughter of Boxer at the hands of the knacker a moving experience for the reader?  

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Orwell's Animal Farm, one of the most prominent horses in the story is a male cart horse named Boxer. In the first chapter of the novel, Major predicts that Boxer will be sold to the knacker and boiled down and ultimately that is what eventually happens.

Boxer's departure, though, is a sad one for Orwell's readers because Boxer and Clover are arguably the most noble creatures in Animal Farm. Orwell tells us that they were the "most faithful disciples" of the pigs. They passed on the pigs' teachings to the other animals, attended all the meetings at the barn, and always "led the singing of 'Beasts of England'."

As for Boxer, he was an incredibly hard worker and would continue laboring vigorously in the face of any obstacles. His personal motto was, "I will work harder!" Eventually, Boxer adds a second motto: "Napoleon is always right", even though it has become obvious to everyone that Napoleon is a brutal and ruthless dictator.

In Chapter 4, during the battle with the humans, Boxer is upset with himself when he accidentally kills one of the humans. In Chapter 8, Boxer helps rally the animals when the humans make another attack on them. During that attack, Boxer is wounded and the windmill that he had labored so hard to help build is destroyed.

Still, Boxer's only desire is to rebuild the windmill before he retired. Unfortunately, Boxer's tired body was not strong enough to see that task accomplished. When Boxer fell ill and was being taken away by the knacker, all the animals were horrified. Although Squealer did not really mean these words, I think that modern readers of the novel would agree,

"It was the most affecting sight I have ever seen!"

Boxer, the most noble animal, the backbone of their revolution and labor, had been mercilessly slaughtered.