March INP Post #1: Character Analysis – Spotlight on Boxer

In George Orwell’s renowned book “Animal Farm”, which tells the tale of a farm taken over by its poorly treated animals, there is a character named Boxer – a horse – who poses as a model for hard work and loyalty. With the multitude of physically demanding jobs on the animal-run farm, Boxer has established two personal motifs that the self-proclaimed leader, Napoleon, encourages every animal to take to heart: “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” Possessing bulging muscles that provide his gargantuan strength capable of matching an elephant’s, Boxer has lent many a helping hand (or hoof) in the construction of the windmill and ordinary farmwork in general. Besides taking on additional voluntary work after the normal working hours, he also wakes himself up earlier than any other animal to get more work done. Needless to say, Boxer is very devoted in contributing the maximum amount of effort he can provide to the development and prosperity of the farm. However, in the book, he can be interpreted as a symbol of innocence and naiveté.

Before this character analysis goes into the flaws of Boxer’s ideology and beliefs, let us first consider how he has changed throughout the progression of the plot. Physically, he has changed: as old age catches up to him, his once awe-inspiring strength deteriorates, finally collapsing with a damaged lung. However, when we go deeper than his appearance, his beliefs and dogma have not changed the slightest bit: until his end, he still vehemently believed that “Napoleon is always right”, revealing his childlike dependence on a powerful and seemingly all-knowing leader. Furthermore, he is also mentally wired to accomplish as much work as he can throughout the entire story, illustrated by his first motto “I will work harder.” In a sense, Boxer is both a “flat”(non-changing) and a “round” (changing) character, both changing and not changing in certain senses. However, in the context of the storyline, which revolves mainly around the ideology of Napoleon, one’s mindset is more important than one’s physical appearance, establishing Boxer as a “flat” character.

Boxer also provides us with a stunning example of a character who is extremely devoted to other animals’ well-being, not thinking about the potential consequences the workload he assumes unto himself could possess. In the book, George Orwell has cast Boxer as the somewhat “unintelligient” animal, proven by his inability to learn more than the first four letters of the alphabet. As soon as Boxer contacts Animalism, he throws himself into the cause, proving to be a valuable soldier in the Rebellion and struggles with humans seeking to regain control of the farm. Along with being a valuable soldier, he is a valuable worker, his massive strength finishing many jobs in little time. But what is his motivation for his strenuous daily work that leaves him worn-out and fatigued? The driving factor is his belief that all his efforts aid the expansion and prosperity of the farm.

However, Boxer’s devotion and unintelligience is “harvested” by the cruel pigs. Acknowledging that Boxer is a “hope” and a sort of “role model” that is holding the farm’s animals together (during the harsh winter days with little food, the animals looked up to Boxer, thinking his hard work will bring them more food), the pigs used him as an individual not only to influence the thoughts and decisions of others, but also help themselves achieve their goals. When the pigs issue an order and Boxer throws himself wholeheartedly into the cause, any doubts other animals secretly possessed about the justification of the decision instantly vanishes. In fact, I believe Boxer is even more effective than the propaganda-broadcaster Squealer: the animals believe that since Boxer is helping the farm in so many ways, his decisions must be justified and right. Alas, that is not always the case.

Old Major has previously warned Boxer that he was “disposable” towards the beginning of the book: “‘The very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will send you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the fox-hounds.'” When the animals take over, Boxer naïvely believes that that prospect is no longer tangible, that he will live out his old days in the small field set aside for retired animals, happily learning the rest of the alphabet. However, the pigs taking control only meant that he had a new species to fret about, although he couldn’t figure it out himself due to his unintelligience. When Boxer finally collapsed, I believe that the pigs saw Boxer as a depleted battery that is no longer of any use, with the possibility of driving other animals sad, lowering productivity. In other words, he was now useless. As the pigs send him to the knacker’s to be slaughtered, he served as an example of how dramatic the pig’s betrayal was, and to what extent their wickedness could stretch.

Now it’s time to analyze who Boxer represented in the Russian Revolution, an event that this book’s plot was modeled upon. Boxer didn’t represent a particular individual; he represented the exploited Russian working-class (proletariat) during the time of the Russian Revolution. Boxer suffered from the same flaw Orwell had identified as a weakness in the proletariats: an inability to think deeply about their current situations and failure to recognize even the most obvious and glaring instances of government corruption. Boxer was not smart enough to ponder the possibility that Napoleon was corrupt, and that he was simply being exploited; the proletariats were too brainwashed to comprehend their current situations. Boxer’s work and dedication was a force that held Animal Farm together; the proletariats’ mostly invisible labor held the Communist nation together economically and financially. In the Russian Revolution, the proletariats were also viewed by the leaders as “disposable” people, since there were so many of them and they were so easily brainwashed with Communist ideology, translating to many people working for the benefit of the leaders. It is striking how similar Boxer is to the proletariats; as mentioned earlier, he was viewed as “disposable” as well, and was too stupid to think for himself.

Alas, after the analysis, it can be concluded that Boxer is the genial and benevolent individual (or class) that cares for the farm (or nation), but is unfortunately exploited by the pigs (or Stalin) due to how easily brainwashable he was. Corrupt, cruel, and atrocious leaders were something Boxer couldn’t work harder to overcome.

MLA Citation:            Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954. Print.

INP Blog Post #2 (Last of September): Twain vs. Disney

I had recently finished reading the noteworthy book “The Prince and the Pauper” by the renowned American author Mark Twain. This astonishing piece of literature starred an original plotline dissimilar to any other previous novel I have ever read: two boys, both alike in appearance, both born at the same time, meet. The only difference between them is that one of them – Tom Canty – was born in the soiled Offal Court of filthy neighborhoods London, and the other – Edward – was the Prince of Wales, heir of the throne of England, born into the opulence of royalty. By chance, the two boys meet, and with a simple exchange of clothing, one is sent for the first time into the horrors of London’s underworld, while the other is directed to the lives of royalty he could only dream of. Then the book spends the majority of its pages elaborating on the events that occur to the boys, and their struggle to regain their lost identities.

It occurred to me while I was reading that this plotline did not appear as original as when I first started the novel. Then I understood: an adaptation of this novel included a movie starring Mickey Mouse! This 1990 film was also named “The Prince and the Pauper”, inspired by the very book I just read! I had a faint memory of watching a movie about switched identities when I was only around 6 years old. No wonder the plotline of the novel suddenly reminded me of something! Similar to the book, Mickey Mouse, the pauper in the movie’s storyline, is noticed by the prince during his studies because of his rough treatment by the guards. Being brought to his room, the prince is shocked how much alike they looked, which occurred in the book as well. Finally, they talk about their lives and the Prince becomes greatly interested, stimulating them to exchange clothing and experience each other’s lives for a while. Once again, this same exact situation occurred in the book. It is when the intended short experience becomes a catastrophic disaster that the plotline diverges for the two representations: in the book, the king is entangled in Tom Canty’s family affairs, is ensnared in a ruffian gang, is rescued by a great protagonist named Miles Hendon, and is eventually brought back to London. In the movie, the Prince only has one short affair with soldiers, gets captured by the guards at the palace, and is thrown into the dungeon of the palace. The rising action of the representations share some similarity, although the climax is slightly different. The book provided a more complex plotline, with detailed events of each boy’s lives during the time of their switched identities.

It was extremely amusing to realize that an adult novel I read now can remind me of a movie I watched half a lifetime ago. It made me re-read the book in greater detail, to see how the movie adaptation of it differed and how it re-enacted some of the key events. This book was an extremely pleasurable one to read, and I highly recommend this book to others.