Animal Farm

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Boxer Character Analysis

A horse. Strong and hardworking, Boxer is extremely honorable, though not so intelligent. Boxer believes deeply in the revolution, so much so that he thinks the Animal Farm leader, who also leads the revolution, must be virtuous and wise. One of Boxer's favorite sayings is "Napoleon is always right." Boxer has the strength to overthrow Napoleon's dictatorship, but not the wit to realize that it is a dictatorship. Boxer devotes all his strength to supporting Napoleon, yet when that strength finally fails him, Napoleon betrays him. Boxer symbolizes the male working class and peasants of the Soviet Union.

Boxer Quotes in Animal Farm

The Animal Farm quotes below are all either spoken by Boxer or refer to Boxer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of Animal Farm published in 1996.
Chapter 3 Quotes
I will work harder!
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Boxer adopts this phrase as his motto in the animal’s new society. He becomes the epitome of the socialist work ethic, in which one derives self-value from the ability to contribute to the well-being of others.

Above all, this sentence shows how Boxer has fully internalized the values of Animalism. He is motivated to work ever harder based on a striking commitment to the society, and to his belief that he can improve the lives of others simply through hard work. Indeed, he is quite effective in this endeavor, and is able to aid the animals in producing an excellent harvest.

Yet the phrase also speaks to his narrow-minded perspective: Boxer does not consider other ways that he could approach life, but rather identifies fully with a single quality: his physical strength. Orwell renders him a caricature of how adherents to socialism were required to behave dependently: the best workers were instructed not to reflect on their position in the system, but simply drive themselves to work ever harder. Boxer thus demonstrates both the efficacy of a revolution like that in the USSR, as well as the significant drawbacks to such a structure.

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Chapter 4 Quotes
I have no wish to take life, not even human life,' repeated Boxer, and his eyes were full of tears.
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker)
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

During the “Battle of the Cowshed,” Boxer believes that he has killed a stable boy. After the animals finish the battle, Boxer mourns the fact that he has unintentionally become a murderer.

Boxer’s sadness is indicative of both a striking moral compass and a naive relationship to his strength. He feels an intense ethical burden to have killed the stable boy, and the fact that his reaction is motivated by emotion indicates that this wish to preserve all life is somehow innate to his identity. Orwell contrasts this quality with the more artificial Animalism system, which is based on harsh principles rather than emotional sensitivity to specific events.

Boxer’s perspective also notably separates him from other interpretations of Animalism, which would require that animals kill humans. But while Boxer’s ethical beliefs bring him into conflict with the commandments, he remains unable to fully articulate the disparity. His role continues to be that of a powerful worker, committed to toiling ever more and to representing society. This laudable single-mindedness also leaves him blind to the way the pigs have taken advantage of his strength—not only to cultivate the farm, but also to go against Boxer’s own moral wishes.

Chapter 5 Quotes
Napoleon is always right.
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker), Napoleon
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Boxer makes this characteristically terse comment after listening to Squealer’s defense of Napoleon. Instead of responding to the specific terms, however, he offers his universal adherence to the leader.

This line reiterates Boxer’s role as a committed adherent to the political regime on the Animal Farm. He continues to deal in the absolute of “always right” even after evidence has been presented that would contradict that firm belief. Unable to take into account how Napoleon’s military tactics conflict with his own anti-violent system of ethics, Boxer blindly reaffirms his belief in the leader of-the-moment. He thus symbolizes the unquestioning supporter of a totalitarian governmental system, one who is persuaded by propaganda and will believe in the system despite indications that it is no longer effective.

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Boxer Character Timeline in Animal Farm

The timeline below shows where the character Boxer appears in Animal Farm. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...speaking platform. Next come the hens, pigeons, sheep, and cows; two cart horses, the enormous Boxer, and the motherly Clover who lets some orphaned ducklings shelter between her legs; Muriel the... (full context)
Chapter 2
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Boxer and Clover show the most devotion to Animalism. Neither is very smart, but their belief... (full context)
Chapter 3
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...pigs, the smartest animals, soon start directing the other animals' work. The pigs' cleverness and Boxer's immense strength and work ethic help solve all the problems the animals encounter in their... (full context)
Chapter 4
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
...Snowball with a blast from his shotgun, but Snowball still manages to knock Jones down. Boxer's strength, meanwhile, terrifies the other men. The animals rout the men with just a single... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Boxer is dismayed to learn that one of his kicks seems to have killed a stable... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...Snowball emphasizes that animals must be willing to die to defend Animal Farm. Snowball and Boxer receive the award of Animal Hero, First Class. They name the battle the "Battle of... (full context)
Chapter 5
Language as Power Theme Icon
None of the animals wants Jones back, and Boxer, after heavy thinking, says, "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." (full context)
Chapter 6
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...the sacrifice happily, since it's for their own benefit rather than for a human master. Boxer works the longest and hardest. Despite all the effort, the time spent working on the... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
..."The Leader" and the pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds. Though Boxer dismisses the change by saying "Napoleon is always right," Clover is certain that the Commandments... (full context)
Chapter 7
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Boxer disagrees. He says he thinks Snowball was loyal at the beginning, even if he later... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...an assembly in the yard. When the animals gather, Napoleon whimpers and his dogs attack Boxer and the four pigs that had questioned Snowball's removal. The pigs are bloodied, but Boxer... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...are miserable, having witnessed the first killings on the farm since Mr. Jones was defeated. Boxer thinks he must work harder to make things better. Clover leads the animals in a... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...drives the animals into a rage, and they attack. Many animals die, and most, including Boxer, suffer injuries. But they manage to drive Frederick and his men from Animal Farm. (full context)
Chapter 9
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Boxer still works harder than everyone else, but his strength begins to wane. He comforts himself... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
One day, while working on the new windmill, Boxer's lung fails and he falls, no longer able to work. Squealer announces that Napoleon has... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Three days later, Squealer announces that Boxer died in the hospital, and that his last words were "Napoleon is always right." In... (full context)