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Literature Study GuidesBlack BeautyPart 3 Chapters 41 43 Summary

Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty | Part 3, Chapters 41–43 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 41: The Butcher

Black Beauty says much of the trouble people have with horses is preventable if the humans only used "a little common sense." He notes that horses belonging to wealthy people are not automatically happier, pointing to his own experience with the earl.

However, he pities the delivery ponies used by butchers and other tradesman. He overhears a butcher criticizing his son for working their pony to the point of exhaustion. The son argues they often have rush deliveries because people do not order their meat in advance. The butcher acknowledges this but insists the pony have the remainder of the day to rest. Beauty says the age of the driver and the age of the horse do not matter if there is kindness.

Chapter 42: The Election

It is election time. Mr. B—, the candidate from one group, the "blues," wants to hire Jerry Barker's cab to deliver voters to the polls. Jerry says no because he doesn't want political posters on his cab. Nor does he want to drive around to pubs to pick up drunk voters and take them to polling places. Although Jerry agrees with some of the blues' policies, he does not want to be a part of manipulating the vote. Jerry believes "an election is a very serious thing; at least it ought to be." He says the chaos and partisanship around the elections interfere with each man's chance to vote his conscience. Jerry tells Polly Barker that Mr. B— doesn't understand workers' needs and therefore will not vote for him, despite agreeing with some of his ideas.

When Harry Barker criticizes "orange blackguards" who were mean to his sister, Jerry speaks sternly, advising Harry not to attack people based on their political affiliations and praising the boy for defending his sister.

Chapter 43: A Friend in Need

On Election Day Jerry Barker's cab is busy. Just as he stops for lunch, Jerry sees a young woman with a sick child. She is lost and trying to get her boy to the hospital. Jerry offers to drive her for free, but before she can accept, two election workers run up and claim the cab. Their task is more important than the woman's, they claim, and insist Jerry drive them. Jerry refuses, even when they threaten him. Eventually they leave, and Jerry takes the woman and her son to the hospital. The woman thanks Jerry and rushes inside. Jerry then utters the words, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these."

Moments after Jerry drops them off in the pouring rain, a woman in a veil steps out of the hospital and calls for a cab. Recognizing Jerry, she asks after Polly and the children. Beauty learns the woman is Mrs. Fowler, Polly's former mistress. When Mrs. Fowler asks about Jerry's health, he admits he does get sick sometimes, and Mrs. Fowler worries he may grow ill driving a cab in winter weather. She encourages him to contact her if he ever wants a different job.

Analysis

After Anna Sewell reminds the reader of Beauty's unhappiness at the earl's, she devotes most of Chapter 41 to delivery ponies. Ponies were used more often than horses for deliveries because they are smaller, sturdier, and less expensive to maintain than horses. Despite ponies' humbler status, Beauty—and Sewell—believe delivery ponies deserve better treatment. The discussion opens the door for Sewell to bring up another way humans unintentionally make life harder for working animals: rush deliveries. The butcher tries to care for his pony, but his customers' demands undermine his efforts. Sewell concludes the chapter with examples of how kindness lightens the loads of hard-working poor people and horses. "It may be hard work sometimes, but a friend's hand and voice make it easy," Beauty explains. His statement could serve as a motto for his time with Jerry.

Jerry and Beauty also face unreasonable demands from some clients. Jerry resists these orders, even though it can cost him. Sewell has already established Jerry as someone who will go against the crowd when necessary, and his principles are put to the test—and reinforced— during the elections. Jerry refuses to participate in electioneering. He cautions his son against assuming one political group is automatically better than another: "There are as many blue blackguards as there are orange ... I won't have any of my family mixed up with it." To Jerry voting is a question of conscience, not of party, and he deplores the actions of both parties in their campaigns.

Sewell continues to emphasize Jerry's strong moral conscience, using it as a platform for her beliefs. Thus, it is completely in character for him to help the woman and child: "I know a father's feelings," he says, and would be ashamed "to let a woman and sick child run a risk like that." After delivering her to the hospital, Jerry once again falls back on his Christian beliefs as he quotes from Matthew 25:40: "Verily I say unto you inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Jerry is quoting Jesus's response to the crowd when he is explaining to them who will be welcomed to the Kingdom of Heaven: "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink." When the people ask when they did these things for God, or Jesus, the response is what Jerry quotes. Helping "the least"—that is, the poor and those in need—is like helping God. Sewell has again linked kindness to horses with Christianity. Jerry's words go beyond his delivering the woman and child to the hospital. They are an explicit statement of the author's belief: animals are some of "the least," so being kind to an animal is kindness to God—and a path to heaven.

Sewell has repeatedly foreshadowed troubles for Jerry, and she does so again near the end of Chapter 43 when Jerry talks with Mrs. Fowler. Jerry admits he has had health issues, and such admissions generally signal more of the same in the future. At the same time, Sewell foreshadows a challenging time for Beauty. If Jerry chooses, he could leave cab driving, thanks to Polly's mistress. But then what will happen to Beauty?

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