With which character do you sympathize most? How does Orwell encourage our sympathy for him/her and how does that sympathy contribute to the political message ?
I am in agreement with the majority. Boxer offers the most sympathetic set of traits. A hard worker, a faithful believer in the revolution, Boxer doesn't set himself apart as the other leaders do. Instead he enacts his social values and participates to a degree above and beyond the other animals in building up the vision the animals have chosen as their future.
He is also one of the few figures of integrity and the only character of any development to be killed (martyred) in the course of the story.
Representative of the peasant who truly believes that he will have a better life under the socialist arrangement of Animal Farm, Boxer is the most deserving of the reader's sympathy. He is representative of the faithful who truly believe in the idealogy of a goveernment. Boxer practices what has been preached to him; his honesty and his work ethic are admirable.
This reader does not sympathize most with Snowball. Snowball does get abused by Napoleon, but he is still one of the elite. It's not as if Snowball was trying to get the pigs to be more democratic, after all.
To me, the most sympathetic character is Boxer. This is a character who is completely selfless. He is truly dedicated to helping others, regardless of what happens to him. Sure, I wouldn't want to be that trusting and naive, but Boxer is the character who I would most want to emulate in terms of his attitude towards helping others.
The reader sympathizes with the character of Snowball. Snowball gets treated with disrespect even after his triumphant military behavior. He led the Battle of the Cowshed and fought majestically, even after suffering a gunshot wound. He is a well-respected leader until Napoleon runs him off the farm:
Snowball shows his expert use of military strategy during the attack—which becomes known as the Battle of the Cowshed—and is later awarded a medal. Snowball also comes up with the idea of building a windmill to produce electricity.
Napoleon is a selfish tyrant. He is jealous of Snowball. Snowball has great ideas and military strategies that work. Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm. When Snowball is run off the farm, the reader sympathizes greatly with Snowball. Snowball is well-loved and well respected by the reader and the other animals on the farm. Only Napoleon is jealous of Snowball.
Throughout the story, Napoleon tears down Snowball’s reputation. He convinces the other animals that Snowball was a deceiver and desired for the farmer, Mr. Jones, to regain control of the farm. Napoleon takes credit for Snowball’s windmill idea, claiming that Snowball stole it from. In this instance, the reader sympathizes with Snowball because he is treated unfairly.
The political statement that the author is making is that leaders can often become corrupt. Napoleon becomes corrupt. Snowball, like Leon Trotsky, is exiled by Napoleon who represents Stalin:
[Snowball] represents the historical figure of Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, who was exiled from Russia by his former partner Stalin, Snowball is eventually run off the farm by Napoleon. After he is gone, Napoleon uses him as a scapegoat, blaming him for everything that goes wrong on the farm. In an allegory of the bloody purge trials that took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, the animals confess to scheming in various ways with Snowball for the downfall of the other pigs. Whoever confesses is slaughtered.
The reader is sympathetic with Snowball who is blamed for everything that goes wrong on the farm. Napoleon becomes self-centered. He declares himself sole leader. He does not have the best interests of the animals at heart. He is a tyrant and dictates solely on how the animals will conduct themselves. Napoleon does not care about the animals. His actions cause the reader to sympathize with the animals who suffer at his command, especially with Snowball who has to leave the farm in order to survive.