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Literature Study GuidesBlack BeautyPart 4 Chapters 48 49 Summary

Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty | Part 4, Chapters 48–49 | Summary



Chapter 48: Farmer Thoroughgood and his Grandson Willie

At the sale Beauty finds himself in the midst of "old, broken-down horses" and potential buyers who "looked not much better off than the poor beasts they were bargaining about." Many people examine Beauty but do not buy him. Finally, a farmer and his grandson spend a long while looking at him. The farmer says Beauty has good breeding. The grandson is convinced Beauty is salvageable and points out his good points. The farmer is slowly convinced to purchase Beauty.

Farmer Thoroughgood is now Beauty's new owner, thanks to his grandson Willie. Willie spends a lot of time caring for Beauty, whom he calls "Old Crony." With a lot of rest in a pasture and plenty of good food, Beauty recovers his strength and is able to work again. Eventually the farmer and Willie begin to look for a new home for Beauty.

Chapter 49: My Last Home

Farmer Thoroughgood and Willie sell Beauty to the Blomefield sisters for use as a carriage horse. Their groom comes to handle the new horse. He questions the farmer about selling a horse with damaged knees, but the farmer insists Beauty has a good temper and is totally safe.

At Beauty's new home, the groom begins to work with him and notices how much this horse is like one he once knew called Black Beauty. When the groom finally realizes it is indeed Beauty, he is delighted. The groom is Joe Green, who cared for Beauty back at Squire Gordon's many years ago. He vows to take good care of Beauty forever. Joe tells his employers about Black Beauty. Miss Ellen Blomefield offers to write to Mrs. Gordon and tell her of Beauty's fate. They give Beauty his old name back and promise they will never sell him. Beauty is happy to know he has found a forever home.


Beauty's final salvation comes through the intervention of a child: Willie, the farmer's grandson. Like the child in the previous chapter, who begged her father not to overtax Beauty's tired body, Willie is more perceptive than his elders. Victorians often idealized children as pure and innocent beings. Some believed children were closer to God. Whether or not Willie is divinely influenced, he puts his grandfather's lessons about horses to good use and convinces the farmer to save Beauty.

Willie names Beauty "Old Crony." To a modern reader the word crony has a negative connotation. In its original use, however, a crony was a close, longtime friend. The author's name choices are always intentional, for Willie has developed an instant bond with Beauty. The "old" part of Beauty's name is bittersweet for readers who have followed Beauty since his earliest days, but Beauty is 13 or 14 years old now. A modern horse's lifespan is 25–30 years, but in the Victorian era it was less. Readers will note, too, that Willie's family name is Thoroughgood, an appropriate name for absolute forces of good in Beauty's life.

In the final chapter Sewell puts forth a series of coincidences that may astound the modern reader. Beauty's "forever home" turns out to be with friends of Squire and Mrs. Gordon, and they employ Joe Green, who had helped John Manly with Beauty all those years ago. Indeed it is the family of the Vicar, Mr. Blomefield, where Merrylegs—and Joe Green—went when the Gordons moved away. At this point Sewell's novel becomes more of a morality tale. This choice may have been influenced by her mother, who wrote morality tales for children. Sewell repeatedly reinforces the idea that goodness is rewarded. While the horses in the novel often have not received their rewards, Beauty, whose behavior has been exemplary throughout, finally gets his reward in the end, returning to an ideal home.

Beauty is relieved and happy to be reunited with Joe, who, as John Manly once predicted, has turned out to be a good groom. In fact, Beauty calls him "the best and kindest of grooms." Beauty's final statement brings him back to the happy days of his youth—he has come full circle. The reader is left with a positive image to reinforce the moral of the story, reassured that kind people can make a difference in an animal's life.

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