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Literature Study GuidesBlack BeautyPart 3 Chapters 32 34 Summary

Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty | Part 3, Chapters 32–34 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 32: A Horse Fair

Black Beauty is at a horse fair, waiting to be sold. He observes "a horse fair is a very amusing place to those who have nothing to lose." He sees different types of horses, including some "like myself, handsome and high-bred, but fallen into the middle class." The sellers are not always truthful: Beauty's seller insists the scars on his knees were from a fall in the stable, which is not true.

Beauty judges his potential owners according to how they handle him. Some are harsh, others gentle. Beauty particularly likes "the grey-eyed man," who knows how to handle horses and smells "as if he had come out of a hayloft." Beauty is afraid another man will buy him and makes his preference clear by reaching his head out toward the gray-eyed man, who raises his offer and becomes Beauty's new owner. He rides Beauty back to a poor section of London and introduces Beauty to his family, who all fuss over their new horse. Beauty feels as though he will be happy there.

Chapter 33: A London Cab Horse

Beauty's new owner is Jerry Barker, a cab driver. Jerry owns his own cab and two horses: Beauty, now called Jack, and Captain, formerly a Crimean war horse. Jerry and his family take excellent care of the horses despite their limited money. Beauty is very grateful. Jerry's family fusses over him, reminding him of Squire Gordon's family. Jerry himself is compared to John Manly in terms of how he cares for his animals. As Beauty begins to work in London, he is frightened by the loud noises and new sights. But Jerry is gentle, and Beauty learns to trust him.

Beauty is grateful for having fresh water available all the time, as it is better for horses to drink small amounts throughout the day rather than have to gulp down large amounts when water is available to them. And he is happy to have Sunday as a day of rest.

Chapter 34: An Old War Horse

Captain, Jerry's other horse, tells Beauty about his life as a war horse. He enjoyed being an army horse in England but disliked being shipped overseas. The horses were hoisted onto the ships, strapped in place, and rarely allowed to move.

At first, Captain enjoyed his role and felt no fear, but things changed. Loyal Captain was grief-stricken when his master was killed while they were charging across a valley in front of the enemy's cannon. In addition to the loss of his master, Captain describes in detail the event that left so many men and horses injured and dead on the bloody battlefield. Beauty asks why the battle was being fought. Captain does not know but says, "the enemy must have been awfully wicked people, if it was right to go all that way over the sea on purpose to kill them."

Analysis

While wealthy people like the squire and his wife have an easier time providing for their animals, Anna Sewell does not believe horse owners with lower incomes cannot. Jerry Barker is Sewell's example of an outstanding but poor owner. Jerry is clearly lower class and lives in London, much like the despised cockneys about whom Beauty complained earlier. Yet Sewell aligns Jerry with one of the most important people in Beauty's previous life: John Manly. In fact, Beauty's name with Jerry is Jack, a nickname for John.

Beauty's comment about Jerry's smell is also significant. He describes Jerry as "clean, fresh" rather than smelling of tobacco smoke or alcohol. London was a dirty city, and London cabbies driving throughout it were unlikely to look or smell fresh. However, Jerry's smell foreshadows the kind of owner he will be. He does not drink, like Reuben Smith, and he spends his time with horses and horse feed, unlike Filcher and Smirk, the two bad grooms. Readers may be relieved the horse once again has a good home, and Sewell has another chance to speak out against alcohol and tobacco use.

Beauty's new colleague, Captain—the name is a reference to his military life—must also have been relieved to find a safe haven after his military experiences. Part of Captain's story bears a distinct resemblance to one of the most famous—or infamous—British military attacks of the Victorian era: the Charge of the Light Brigade, part of the 1854 Battle of Balaklava in the Crimean War. The Light Brigade's soldiers on horseback made a dangerous advance based on incorrect orders. Approximately 200 of the 600 soldiers were killed or injured, and estimates suggest nearly 400 horses were killed in the fighting or euthanized as a result. The charge was immortalized in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854), and this time Sewell takes advantage of the opportunity to describe the participation of horses in battle and the suffering that war causes them as well as human soldiers. Many readers might be accustomed to reading about loss of human life in wartime, but fewer think of the suffering and sacrifice of horses as a result of war. Captain's description is well crafted to arouse readers' pity and perhaps anger.

If Captain really did take part in the Light Brigade, he would be more than 20 years old when Beauty meets him. Beauty does describe Captain as old, and horses can live more than 20 years. Nonetheless, it seems unlikely Captain could have survived so long. Sewell may have left Captain's participation deliberately vague so she could describe the horrors of the battlefield from a horse's viewpoint.

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