Boxer is the noble and dedicated horse who represents the common, working man in Animal Farm by George Orwell. He is committed to the success of the farm and does his share and more of the the work on the farm. It is safe to say that without Boxer the windmill would never have been finished, and all the other work on the farm which has been done over the years since the rebellion is due largely to his effort and example.
It is interesting to note that Orwell's opinion of Boxer is high; Boxer is a commendable character in every way. When he has doubts, he thinks them through and then determines that he just has to work harder. Even when he has the chance to kill one of Napoleon's guard dogs, Boxer cannot believe their leader would ever try to harm him. It is true that Boxer is not as bright as some of the other animals on the farm; nevertheless, he is committed to working until the day he finally gets to retire.
One evening while Boxer is slowly doing some extra work on the windmill, he falls. The other animals gather around him.
There lay Boxer, between the shafts of the cart, his neck stretched out, unable even to raise his head. His eyes were glazed, his sides matted with sweat. A thin stream of blood had trickled out of his mouth.
Everyone but Boxer is worried. Boxer is confident that he will now be allowed to retire to a pasture set aside for superannuated (retired) animals, even though no animal in the history of Animal Farm has ever been allowed to retire.
Clover sends someone to get Squealer, and soon the fat little pig arrives to persuade the animals that all will be well with their fallen comrade.
He said that Comrade Napoleon had learned with the very deepest distress of this misfortune to one of the most loyal workers on the farm, and was already making arrangements to send Boxer to be treated in the hospital at Willingdon.
Though the animals are a little uncomfortable about this idea, they believe the propagandizing (lying) pig and assume Boxer will be well cared for at the local veterinarian's office. Boxer's friends stay with him during the night but have to work in the morning, and that is when a white van comes to get him. Benjamin sees the van first, and he hollers at the animals to hurry and tell Boxer goodbye.
[T]here in the yard was a large closed van, drawn by two horses, with lettering on its side and a sly-looking man in a low-crowned bowler hat sitting on the driver's seat.
All the other animals are fooled because they cannot read, but Benjamin is horrified by what he reads on the side of the van:
Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.
Boxer is being taken to the knacker's where he will be slaughtered. Though Benjamin raises a cry and Boxer finally understands what is happening and tries to escape, Boxer is taken away to become glue and dog food.
Squealer later tries to convince the animals, fake tears and all, that the vet tried everything to keep Boxer alive but, alas, Boxer did not survive. This is how Orwell believes the common man is treated by a dictatorial government--used and then discarded.
A week or so later, the pigs hold a banquet in Boxer's honor, though none of the other animals is invited. They get wildly drunk on the whiskey which they purchased with Boxer's life (money from the knacker). The only satisfaction to be found is that the pigs wake up with hangovers in the morning and think they are dying.