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Boxer and Napoleon the bickering lichen

June, 2020

The world as we know it is on the verge of changing once again. Every few decades, the society transforms. The 20 th century is a prime of example of this constant state of change. The transformation from Neo-Classicism to Post Modernism and to whatever comes next (which no one can say for sure, but it sure looks like we have a robust foundation for the resurgence of anarchy) has taught us the curious characteristic of change, i.e. constant. Bear in mind, such “phases” are ex-post demarcations that are used to tag time periods as, during the time period no one is made aware of the “phase”.

Apart from clubbing most of the early 20 th century schools of thought, Modernism also marked the end of communism and the rise of capitalism. These two ideologies are personified by Boxer and Napoleon from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The Animal Farm is a tale about how farm animals unite to take over the farm from their oppressive ‘human’ owners. They work hard to organize themselves into a fraternity, educate themselves to use human knowledge and tools in order to become self-sustaining, all with the aim of living a life of equals while being happier and having control over their lives. All of this happens with the slogan ‘All animals are equal’. Sounds familiar? Yes, this can also act as the rudimentary definition of socialism. The ‘leaders’ of the coup, the pigs, eventually take a liking towards the human way of life, indulging in ‘humanly’ activities - such as trading, drinking, sleeping in a bed, killing all of which were originally banished from the Animal Farm – and through abuse of powers and oppression, become the new oppressors. Fundamentally, the pigs develop a liking towards consumerism, indulge in trade to fuel their new-found liking and are known to breach trust to sustain their new liking. Wait, this also sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

For those of you haven’t read the novella - though I’d strongly suggest you to read it – here’s an introduction to the characters. Boxer, a horse, was the strongest animal on the farm and lived his life by the motto ‘I will work harder’ and Napoleon, a pig, was one of the masterminds behind the animal coup and the eventual leader of the animal farm. While from this brief introduction Napoleon might come across as the protagonist, he was nothing less than the antagonist and also, the eventual doom of the revolution.

Here is where Orwell beautifully and effortlessly mocks us, humans, creatures of habit for either being foolish like Boxer or being cunning like Napoleon. While Boxer was every animal’s role model, was hard working and selfless and the reason why the farm was successful, he was also blind towards how the pigs manipulated him, used him and eventually even sold him off to the butcher instead of sending him to the hospital. Even though he was always tired and beaten up after working for long hours, he was always happy and satisfied.

On the other hand, Napoleon was smart, cunning, lazy and always got his way, he also won the animals’ admiration through his manipulative nature. He enjoyed the comforts of ‘human way of life’ while his ‘animal counterparts’ suffered from the cruel treatment and the harsh living conditions. Yet, at the end of the day, he was feared – not admired – and lived a long and ‘happy’ life.

Here is my question, which life would you pick? Boxer or Napoleon? Morally, you’d say that everyone should be like Boxer and work hard for the greater good but, deep within the comforts that Napoleon enjoyed while his ‘comrades’ suffered doesn’t sound bad either. Then you would come to the conclusion of living a life where you are hardworking and self-less like Boxer while being smart but not manipulative and cunning like Napoleon, right? Well, for those of you who have not read the Animal Farm, here is the thing – this was the basis of the revolution, this was the motive behind ousting the humans.

In my naïve opinion, there is no middle way. There is no Napoleon-Boxer hybrid, you are either of them, but never both. But there is good news, whichever way you pick, as long as you are happy and satisfied, it does not matter. Being kind to other is as important as advancement and progress. Napoleon and Boxer are two sides of the same coin. Boxer and Napoleon are lichens, the fungi and algae in a symbiotic relationship, and can not thrive without the other. Because at the end of the day, if Napoleon hadn’t orchestrated the revolution, Jones – the human owner of the farm who was ousted – would have eventually sold him to the butcher while having oppressed him and on the other hand, had Boxer not ousted the humans, he would have faced the same fate. As for the silver lining, here is what you can do in either case, be honest and take pride in your work while being true to your goal.

P.S., the world is an Animal Farm and you are an animal here.

P.P.S., all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than the others.

  • Written By Dhairya Jain

Dhairya is an intern at the firm since 2019. In his own words - "A cold brew is the way to my heart". You might spot him around town, in a coffee shop with a BBC and a laptop!