Boxer’s split hoof incurred in the Battle of the Windmill takes a long time to heal and causes him much pain.
Winter comes round again and there is once more a shortage of food, but Squealer is quick to assure the animals that life has improved since the
time of Jones.
Thirty-one piglets are produced from the four sows on the farm, and Napoleon takes full responsibility for their education, and they are to be
kept separate from the other animals.
Napoleon formally proclaims that Animal Farm is a Republic and he will be its President.
At the start of the rebellion, it had been agreed that there should be a retirement age for animals, and for horses this was fixed at twelve.
A pasture had been set aside for retired animals but now this has been ploughed up, and the animals are concerned that there will be a change in policy regarding the retirement of animals. With Boxer’s hoof healed, he continues to work as hard as ever, even though he is now past twelve years old. Suddenly, Boxer collapses and is unable to continue his work. A cart arrives, which the pigs say will take Boxer to the animal hospital, but some of the animals are able to read on the side of the cart the words, “Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler”. Clover urges Boxer to break out of the cart, but he is too weak. All the animals join in the cry, “Get out Boxer, get out!” The animals try to persuade the horses drawing the cart to stop, but they just continue in their stupid fashion.
A few days later, Squealer informs the animals that there had been malicious rumors that Boxer had been sold to the horse slaughterer. He
had in fact been taken to the vet, and the cart used was an old cart and the sign had not been painted out. Despite Napoleon spending much on medicines for Boxer, he sadly died and a party was to
be held in his honor. On the day of the party, “a grocer’s van drove up from the town and delivered a large wooden crate to the farmhouse”. Rumor had it that the crate contained whisky.
Boxer’s collapse and subsequent
slaughter provides the most moving passages in the book.
These passages emphasize the hopelessness of the animals’ situation and how they are trapped in a world from which there is no escape except through death or desertion.
Boxer receives no reward for the efforts he had made over the years to make Animal Farm a success. He is sold for a case of whisky, which
only the pigs will enjoy.
We receive indications that Napoleon is breeding the next generation of pigs indoctrinating them in his philosophy, and they will be taught to
support his totalitarian state.
The reader may like to recall the initial passages of the book and compare the situation now being experienced by the animals. They live in
harsh conditions, hungry and cold outside the farmhouse while the pigs enjoy all the luxuries inside the warm farmhouse.
We also note that the pigs allow Moses, the tame raven, to return to the farm and he continues telling the animals about the life after death to
be enjoyed on Sugar Candy Mountain.
Although the field designated for retirement has now been turned over to producing wealth for the farm, the animals can still hope for a better life on Sugar Candy Mountain.
The reader may sympathize with Boxer, but also realize that he has been very stupid, for he failed to see that Major’s vision was not shared by
Napoleon. The only blessing is that Boxer will not witness the final irony played out in Chapter 10.
The reader feels a sense of frustration at this point in the book, hoping against hope that the animals will rise up against the pigs that
control them. Clearly they are unfit to control the farm, demonstrated by the fact that they used the money from Boxer’s slaughter to purchase alcohol rather than food for the animals.
The final irony is that the animals are now ordered to build a schoolhouse in which the next generation of pigs (rulers) will be educated.
This is a clear indication that the animals will not be rid of Napoleon when he dies because there will be others to follow in his trotters.