in chapter 9
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Boxer overworks himself so much that he collapses, unable to get up. In his sickly state, he expresses a wish to retire early along with Benjamin. The animals fetch Squealer, who relays Napoleon’s decision to send Boxer to the veterinary hospital in Willingdon.
Over the next two days, Boxer lies in his stall and takes doses from “a large bottle of pink medicine” that the pigs send from the farmhouse. He expresses his wish to spend his final years learning the rest of the alphabet. One afternoon, a van comes to take Boxer away. It has “lettering on its side and a sly-looking man in a low-crowned bowler hat sitting on the driver’s seat.” The hopeful animals wish Boxer goodbye, but Benjamin breaks their revelry by reading the lettering on the side of the van: “Alfred Simmons, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied” (123). The animals panic and try to get Boxer to escape. He tries to get out of the van, but he has grown too weak to break the door. The animals try to appeal to the horses drawing the van, but they do not understand the situation.
Boxer never returns, but three days later the pigs announce that he died in the hospital despite receiving the best care. Squealer claims to have been present at Boxer’s death, a tale he relates emotionally to the other animals. He claims that Boxer’s last words were, “Forward, Comrades! … Forward in the name of the Rebellion” and “Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right” (125). Squealer also claims that the van belongs to the veterinarian, who had recently bought it from the horse slaughterer and had not yet managed to paint over the lettering. These stories satisfy the animals. The next Sunday, Napoleon promises to honor Boxer with a special wreath and a memorial banquet. On the day the banquet is to be held, a large crate arrives at Animal Farm. That night, the pigs are rowdy inside the farmhouse and do not wake up until noon the next day. The animals hear a rumor that the pigs had bought a case of whisky.