Many will say that Boxer in, Animal Farm by George Orwell, has many admirable qualities that we aspire to have. He is loyal, kind-hearted, hard-working and always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty – an enigma for too many of us. It is also important to mention that the story also acts as a political allegory about revolution and power and those impacted by such events. Specifically, it’s an allegory of the Russian Revolution from 1917-1923. This revolution has been described as a violent one (Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905), which saw the end of imperial rule and the beginning of Communist rule and the formation of the soviet union.
What starts off in Animal Farm as a successful uprising and promise of a better future losses momentum with the replacement of the old, (Old Major), with the new (Napoleon and his minions). Things quickly go sour as the pigs, in a position of power, manipulate the legacy of Old Major (Animalism), to control the other animals, while solidifying their power and wealth.
And this is where we bring in Boxer…
I was talking to a friend of mine about working hard at whatever we do, and he mentioned Boxer; ” yuh remember what happened to Boxer, from Animal Farm? Dem tun him inna glue!”
Yes Boxer played a vital role in the development of the farm in its new era. His indomitable spirit inspired the other animals when their fortunes changed and he worked relentlessly for the good of the farm. But at what cost?
Instead of receiving trophies, incentives and other accolades for his effort, and retiring in bliss, he is sold off to be made into glue when he is of no more use! His worth? Whiskey for Napoleon and the other pigs! All that he receives is the title of hard worker, “he was a true hard worker”. He was loyal to a fault and though he was the strongest animal on the farm, he used his strength to serve those who exploited him and not to improve the conditions of the other animals facing the same exploitation. The worse part was that when something went wrong he always blamed himself and vowed to work harder. He had become too use to taking orders, to trying to get things right and always being obedient and never disobedient.
Sometimes we think we are acting independently and never realize that we have been programmed to follow a path created for us; the mind has been programmed.
So, the lasting image of Boxer is his effort to make the mill:
To see him toiling up the slope inch by inch, his breath coming fast, the tips of his hoofs clawing at the ground, and his great sides matted with sweat, filled everyone with admiration…
Then again, it could be for me the most tragic scene in the book. This is when Boxer taken away to be slaughtered; for Boxer it is the last time we will see or hear him…
…Although the animals warn him, it is too late. Boxer is already loaded into and locked in the truck for the glue factory. His strength is compromised by his failing health. His desperation is apparent by the sound of “tremendous drumming of hoofs inside the van, but he is too weak to break free.
There are many lesson here:
- Be careful who you trust they may take advantage of you!
- Never follow anyone blindly, even your friends.
- Even the best of us can be controlled and manipulated if we let it happen to us.
- Know your worth and never compromise.
- Make your own path and lead the way.
- Make your dreams a reality and don’t die on someone else’s
- Be the best you can be but never be someone’s ladder.
- Know and embrace your limitations and never see them as a negative but as a reminder that you will never be unemployed because you’re always working on yourself!
And many more if we think hard enough.
I read Animal Farm when I was fourteen years old and I was so inspired by the revolution carried by the animals, brought to tears by the sacrifice and ill-treatment of Boxer and the other animals. Saddened by the anti-climatic nature of the revolution’s aftermath, especially after Old Major’s death. Angered by the greedy, heartless and corrupt pigs – a suitable animal for such a role! And the really sad truth that there are people who lie, deceive and undermine those who for whatever reason find themselves at a disadvantage. Also, there are many who trust too much, give too much and receive very little or nothing in return, just like Boxer. Their lives become tragic.
Although Boxer had the ability to be an inspiring hero, in this story he is a tragic- hero figure; one to be pitied and pointed at,
“that is what not to do!”
Life teaches hard lessons, never be too gullible to learn them, and learn them well.