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Literature Study GuidesBlack BeautyPart 2 Chapters 22 24 Summary

Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty | Part 2, Chapters 22–24 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 22: Earlshall

Black Beauty and Ginger are sent to their new owner, who is not as kind as the squire. The earl's wife insists on using the checkrein because it is fashionable, and her husband cannot or will not dissuade her from doing so. A proud and authoritative woman, she demands the rein be shortened repeatedly, forcing the horses' heads upright. Beauty now understands why Ginger complained about the checkrein. After having it progressively tightened, he dreads being put in harness. However, Ginger says the rein is still looser than it could be.

Chapter 23: A Strike for Liberty

When the checkrein is finally shortened beyond endurance, Ginger rebels, accidentally hurting Beauty. Ginger will be used for a hunting horse now, and Beauty will pull the carriage with Max, a horse used to checkreins. Max tells Beauty the checkreins shorten their lives. He repeats a conversation he once heard, in which a horse seller admitted that checkreins hurt horses. Because the seller sold more horses that way, he continued to use them. Beauty then explains how checkreins damage horses' mouths and impede their breathing.

York, the earl's coachman, is upset about the event but cannot stand up to his employers' indifference toward their horses. Beauty thinks he should have defended the horses more vigorously.

Chapter 24: The Lady Anne

Beauty becomes a saddle horse for Lady Anne, who renames him Black Auster. One day, Lady Anne goes riding with her cousin, Colonel Blantyre. She tells Blantyre to ride Beauty while she rides a less reliable horse named Lizzie. While they are out, Lizzie gets startled and throws Lady Anne. Blantyre sends a bystander, an inexperienced rider, on Beauty to get the doctor, and Beauty runs as fast as he can. Later, when Lady Anne is out of danger, Blantyre claims he believed "the horse knew of Annie's danger as well as he did."

Analysis

Until now, Beauty has doubted Ginger's stories about the checkrein, but after being forced to tolerate it, he fully understands. Still, Beauty accepts the rein and does not rebel, as Ginger does. Beauty's behavior demonstrates how a horse's early experiences shape his later reactions, as John Manly and the old ostler both have claimed. Anna Sewell offers readers an explanation for badly behaved horses: maybe they never were properly trained.

Beauty's new partner in pulling the carriage serves a single purpose: to share the horse dealer's story. This will not be the last time Beauty hears about, or personally experiences, humans who are more concerned about their incomes than about horses' lives. The horse dealer's attitude also reflects one of the novel's main ideas: a person should be willing to do what is right, even if the rest of society does something different. The horse dealer does not. The earl's wife will not, and the earl permits her to continue.

In Victorian society the Earl of W— would be the head of his household. If he did not want his wife to use the checkrein, he could forbid it. That he does not suggests either he is indifferent or he is a weak husband (by Victorian standards) who lets his wife rule. Neither is acceptable to the author.

Beauty has a new name in his new home. Sewell uses this name, as she does with others, to express something about the new owner. Lady Anne names him Black Auster. Auster is one of the four Roman gods of wind. As the god of the southern wind, known as the sirocco, Auster brought summer and autumn storms. Sirocco winds often have the strength of cyclones. The name does not suit Beauty, neither wild nor cyclone-like, but it does suggest something about Lady Anne, who perhaps longs for adventure. This hint foreshadows Lady Anne's risky attempt to ride Lizzie. Beauty's new name, however, does suggest his nobility, and perhaps his speed, both of which he demonstrates again by helping to save Lady Anne. Beauty is loyal even when his owners are unkind to him.

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