Rebuilding of the windmill begins immediately after the celebrations. Boxer works harder than ever, despite carrying an injury from the battle. His thoughts are now turning to retirement, for which, under the laws of Animal farm, he is due the next year. In the meantime, another cold winter with little food must be endured. Squealer bamboozles the animals with productivity figures which prove how much better off they are than when they were under Jones, although many have by now forgotten life under Jones.
The strain of the resources of the farms grows, not least due to the birth of thirty-one piglets the previous autumn. Napoleon declares that a new schoolroom must be built for the piglets, who are instructed to remain aloof from the other animals. The schoolroom is in addition to the requirement to rebuild the windmill and the need to keep the farm supplied with various other requirements. Potatoes are sold, and practically every egg laid by the hens is sold to earn the money required for these supplies. All the while, the animals’ rations are being reduced, while the pigs make beer from the barley they sowed earlier in the year.
Napoleon now introduces a weekly event called the Spontaneous Demonstration, where every animal would leave their work to march in military procession around the farm, so as to instil pride in the animals in the achievements of the farm since the rebellion. It comforts the animals to know that, no matter how hard their lives, at least they have the benefit of being their own masters. Another consolation around this time is the reappearance of Moses and his tales of SugarCandy Mountain. Many of the animals like to believe that they will go to a better place after their deaths, and the pigs now seem to tolerate Moses, giving him an allowance of beer every day.
The building work around the farm continues through the summer, heavily dependent on the extraordinary efforts of Boxer. He is showing some signs at this stage that his strength is failing. He himself is hoping to get as much done as he possibly can before he retires. Then, one summer evening, he collapses. All the animals rush to his side, unable to bear the thought that anything might happen to him. He barely has the strength to get back to his feet and to struggle back to his stall. Squealer promises to send him to the town so that the veterinary surgeon can treat him. Clover and Benjamin spend as much time as they can over the next few days nursing him. Then, while the animals are all at work, the van comes to take Boxer away. They would not have noticed, except that Benjamin gallops across the farm to tell them that Boxer is being taken away. No one has ever seen Benjamin gallop before. The animals rush to the yard in time to see the van begin to pull away. They start to wave goodbye to Boxer, but Benjamin is very agitated, and tells them to read the letters on the van. Muriel reads out the sign on the van, which describes the van as belonging to the local horse-slaughterer. The animals try to warn Boxer, who tries to kick his way out of the van, but he has no strength, and the kicking from the van soon dies away.
Three days later, Squealer announces that Boxer died in the hospital. He makes a moving speech in praise of Boxer. He explains the sign on the van by saying that the veterinary surgeon bought the van from the horse-slaughterer, and had not yet replaced the sign. The animals are very relieved to hear this, and are greatly consoled by Squealer’s further descriptions of the wonderful care and treatment that Boxer received in his final hours.
Napoleon pays his respects to Boxer at the meeting on the following Sunday. He tells them that it was not possible to return Boxer’s remains for burial on the farm, but that he will be commemorated with a wreath instead. Napoleon announces a memorial banquet for Boxer, which takes place in the farmhouse shortly afterwards, attended only by the pigs.