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Literature Study GuidesBlack BeautyPart 3 Chapters 35 37 Summary

Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty | Part 3, Chapters 35–37 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 35: Jerry Barker

Black Beauty says he "never knew a better man" than Jerry Barker, again comparing Jerry to John Manly. Jerry is pleasant, makes up moralistic little songs, rarely argues with anyone, and cheerfully lets his children help him ready the horses each morning. However, Jerry is not a pushover. He refuses to rush his horse because a fare is in a hurry and turns down those jobs, even if they pay extra, as he does with two "wild-looking young men" who are coming out of a tavern and want to be rushed to the station.

However, he will rush his horses for a good reason. Beauty tells of a polite young man who urgently needs to get to the train station. The man is running late because he has tripped and fallen in the street. Jerry helps him up, and he and Beauty get the man there on time, driving in and out of dense London traffic. Jerry refuses the extra money the man offers, more satisfied about his success in arriving on time than about making extra money. Other cabbies tease him and tell him he'll never get rich, but Governor Grant, the cab drivers' unofficial leader, praises Jerry for caring about things other than money. And Jerry, who lives by the Ten Commandments, is happier not to be rich.

Chapter 36: The Sunday Cab

Mrs. Briggs, who often uses Jerry's cab, wants him to drive her to church every Sunday. Jerry resists, even when offered extra money. Politely, but firmly, he explains the need for time with his family and rest for his horses. When Jerry later relates the offer to his wife, Polly Barker, she supports his decision. However, Mrs. Briggs stops hiring Jerry's cab after he refuses the Sunday job. Some of the cabbies say he made a mistake and criticize so-called religious people who claim God as a reason not to work on Sundays. Jerry, however, argues a religious person should be recognizable by how he treats others: "If a man gives way to his temper, and speaks evil of his neighbor ... he is not religious, I don't care how much he goes to church."

Chapter 37: The Golden Rule

Jerry eventually gets work from Mrs. Briggs again. She tried other cabs and found none she likes as well as Jerry's. She keeps using his cab, but not on Sundays. Beauty describes the one time they worked on a Sunday: to take a friend of Polly Barker's to see her dying mother. Polly emphasizes the Golden Rule as a reason for the Sunday work: "we should do to other people as we should like they should do to us; and I know very well what I should like if my mother was dying." Jerry agrees after Polly's "Sunday-morning sermon," saying she's "as good as the minister." After delivering Polly's friend, Jerry is able to turn Beauty out in a nearby field, which is a real treat, for Beauty hasn't been in a field since Earlshall.

Analysis

Jerry is a good man, almost too good. Like many Victorian novelists, Anna Sewell creates a virtual saint who cheerfully endures hardship. Dickens's Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol is among is the best-known examples of this character type. Jerry knows his place and accepts it. He does his job with a song and a smile. Although he doesn't have much money, he refuses to take extra pay from some customers, saying he values some things more than money.

Jerry's ideas toward religion are somewhat similar to John Manly's. Both reject people who make a display of their faith without doing any real good. Both men do in fact perform significant acts of kindness to help others, going out of their way to do so. When challenged to go against his decision not to work on Sundays, Jerry must consider which is more important: personal and religious integrity or financial gain. He chooses integrity, a choice that is ultimately rewarded when Mrs. Briggs finds no other driver that suits her and begins using Jerry and Beauty again. Jerry's choice may seem to contradict John's idea that people should consider others needs when making their own choices, but Jerry's decision not to drive Mrs. Briggs is merely an inconvenience for her, not the sort of true need that John has referred to.

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