Animal Farm

Who is Snowball, Napoleon, Mollie, and Boxer?


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The male of the two horses on the farm. He is “an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work” (26). Boxer has a special affinity for Benjamin. With his determination to be a good public servant and his penchant for hard work, Boxer becomes Napoleon’s greatest supporter. He works tirelessly for the cause of Animal Farm, operating under his personal maxims, “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” The only time Boxer doubts propaganda is when Squealer tries to rewrite the story of Snowball’s valor at the Battle of the Cowshed, a “treachery” for which he is nearly executed. But Boxer recants his doubts when he learns that the altered story of the battle is directly from Napoleon. After Boxer is injured while defending the farm in the Battle of the Windmill, Napoleon sends him to be slaughtered for profit. The pigs use the money from the slaughter to buy themselves a case of whisky. Boxer is not pugnacious despite his name, but he is as strong as his name implies. In this way, Boxer is a painfully ironic character. He is strong enough to kill another animal, even a human, with a single blow from his hoof, and the dogs cannot manage to overpower him in Chapter VII. Still, Boxer lacks the intelligence and the nerve to sense that he is being used. Boxer represents the peasant or working class, a faction of humanity with a great combined strength--enough to overthrow a manipulative government--but which is uneducated enough to take propaganda to heart and believe unconditionally in the government’s cause.


The white mare that draws Mr. Jones’s trap. Her personality is superficial and adolescent. For example, when she arrives at the big meeting in Chapter 1, Orwell writes, “Mollie … Came mincing daintily in, chewing a lump of sugar. She took a place near the front and began flirting her white mane, hoping to draw attention to the red ribbons it was plaited with” (27). Mollie is the only animal not to fight in the Battle of the Cowshed, instead hiding in her stall. She eventually flees the farm and is last seen, bedecked in ribbons, eating sugar and letting her new owner stroke her nose. Mollie represents the class of nobles who, unwilling to conform to the new regime, fled Russia after the Revolution.


One of the leaders among the pigs, Napoleon is a “large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar” that is up for sale. He is the only Berkshire boar on the farm. He is “not much of a talker” and has “a reputation for getting his own way” (35). Napoleon expels Snowball from the farm and takes over. He modifies his opinions and policies and rewrites history continually to benefit the pigs. Napoleon awards special privileges to the pigs and especially to himself. For example, he dines on Mr. Jones’s fine china, wears Mr. Jones’s dress clothes, and smokes a pipe. As time goes on, Napoleon becomes a figure in the shadows, increasingly secluding himself and making few public appearances. Eventually, Napoleon holds a conciliatory meeting with the neighboring human farmers and effectively takes over Mr. Jones’s position as dictator. Napoleon represents the type of dictator or tyrant who shirks the common good, instead seeking more and more power in order to create his own regime. Orwell reflects Napoleon’s greed for power with a name that invokes Napoleon Bonaparte, the very successful French leader who became “Emperor” and brashly invaded Russia before being defeated by Russia. But Napoleon the pig more directly represents Stalin in his constantly changing policies and actions, his secret activities, his intentional deception and manipulation of the populace, and his use of fear tactics and atrocities.


One of the leaders among the pigs, Snowball is a young pig that is up for sale. He is more intelligent than Napoleon but lacks Napoleon’s depth of character. He is also a brilliant orator. Snowball, who represents Leon Trotsky, is a progressive politician and aims to improve Animal Farm with a windmill and other technological advances, but Napoleon expels him before he can do so. In his absence, Snowball comes to represent an abstract idea of evil. The animals blame misfortunes on him, including the windmill’s destruction, and entertain the idea that he is lurking on one of the neighboring farms, plotting revenge. Napoleon uses the animals’ fear of Snowball to create new propaganda and changes history to make it seem as though Snowball was always a spy and a traitor. Snowball’s name is symbolic in this way. Napoleon encourages the animals’ fear of him to grow or snowball so that it becomes so great it is almost palpable. Snowball’s name may also refer to Trotsky’s call (following Marx) to encourage a revolution outside the Soviet Union that would “snowball” into an international proletariat revolution. Snowball can more generally be said to represent systems of belief outside of communism, which the government demonizes in order to lionize its own system.