What warnings about work ethic or obedience does Orwell express in Animal Farm?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For Orwell in Animal Farm, Boxer is the embodiment of heroic qualities.  Orwell also sees Boxer in a light of pity.  Boxer can be seen as both because of his tireless work ethic and his obedience.  Orwell recognizes the uniquely noble quality in Boxer can be easily manipulated by those in the position of power.  Whether it is the pigs or Jones, Old Major is right in that Boxer will always be used and treated as a means to an end as opposed to an end in his own right.  In some respects, Boxer makes this possible because he does not display any worthwhile voice of dissent.  With his maxims of "I must work harder" and "Napoleon is always right,"  Orwell offers a warning that any citizenry that is not reflective about their government and fails to raise questions when it is in the wrong will always be a mere tool of that political order.  

Obedience and work ethic are simply means by which governments and ruling political bodies are able to accomplish their goals.  Individuals must raise questions and must voice dissent often and when needed.  This must be done so that individuals are not appropriated as part of the political machinery.  Boxer is obedient and demonstrates an unmatched work ethic.  Yet, he becomes part of the ruling order's desire to appropriate the world in accordance to its own subjectivity.  When he does seek to voice some dissent, it is too late.  The final scene of Boxer kicking the inside of the truck that is going to take him to the Knacker's and then slowly surrendering to his fate is reflective of Orwell's fears of excessive obedience and unquestioned work ethic.  They are qualities easily abused by those in the position of power.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial