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Black Beauty | Study Guide

Anna Sewell

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Course Hero. "Black Beauty Study Guide." Course Hero. 10 May 2019. Web. 7 Feb. 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. (2019, May 10). Black Beauty Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from

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(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "Black Beauty Study Guide." May 10, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2023.


Course Hero, "Black Beauty Study Guide," May 10, 2019, accessed February 7, 2023,

Black Beauty | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Part 1

The book begins with Black Beauty's earliest memories: life in a pasture with his mother and other horses. Beauty's experiences with humans are positive, though he sees how people may mistreat horses when he observes a hunt. He is thoroughly but gently trained and sold to Squire Gordon when he is four years old.

At Squire Gordon's, he meets Ginger, a chestnut horse who will become his closest friend. Ginger is temperamental, largely because of thoughtless treatment by previous owners. Squire Gordon, his wife, and the two grooms who tend the horses—John Manly and James—are all gentle and kind.

Beauty is much loved by everyone at the squire's, especially after he helps John fetch a doctor quickly when the squire's wife is seriously ill. Unfortunately, in that crisis, Beauty is left to be cared for by little Joe Green, whose inexperience causes Beauty to become seriously ill. Beauty recovers, but the Gordons must move away for Mrs. Gordon's health. Beauty and Ginger are sold to the Earl of W—.

Part 2

At the earl's, Beauty's situation is far less pleasant. He and Ginger must wear uncomfortable equipment that damages horses' bodies, simply because it is fashionable. Ginger tries to rebel and is sent off to be a hunting horse, but Beauty is still used for riding and pulling carriages. Even though he is not as well treated as he was at the Gordons', Beauty remains loyal, helping to save the life of a young family member when she is injured by another horse.

Beauty is accidentally injured by Reuben Smith, a groom with an alcohol problem. While drunk and riding Beauty, Smith neglects a loose nail in one of Beauty's shoes. Beauty thus injures his foot and falls, unintentionally throwing Smith off. Beauty's legs are badly damaged, and Smith is killed. While recovering, Beauty is reunited with Ginger, who has been permanently damaged by hard riding. Because the Earl of W— will not keep a scarred horse—for aesthetic reasons—he sells Beauty to a livery stable.

At the livery stable Beauty is rented by many different people. Most are clueless about horses, but a few are kind. One customer takes a liking to Beauty and suggests a friend purchase him for a riding horse.

Beauty's new owner, Mr. Barry, is kind but ignorant about horses, and he hires bad grooms. The first groom steals Beauty's food and is arrested. The second is lazy and lies about how he cares for Beauty. Beauty gets sick from his poor care. Frustrated, Mr. Barry decides to sell Beauty.

Part 3

Jerry Barker, a cab driver, buys Beauty at a horse fair. Although Jerry is poor, and the work is hard, Beauty has not felt so well cared for since he was at Squire Gordon's. But not every horse is as lucky. Jerry's other horse is seriously injured by a careless driver and must be euthanized. One day in the city, Beauty also sees Ginger, who is close to death from overwork. Jerry does everything he can to care for Beauty, but then Jerry gets ill and can no longer put in the long hours driving a cab. Jerry's wife helps him get a new job as a coachman outside of London. Beauty must be sold again.

Part 4

Beauty works for a bakery and then a large cab company, which is run by a nasty boss. Neither owner takes good care of him. One day, from overwork, Beauty drops in his harness while pulling a cab. The company's owner wants to send Beauty to be killed but is persuaded to sell Beauty instead.

A gentleman farmer's grandson persuades his grandfather to buy Beauty. The little boy insists Beauty can be brought back with some rest and gentle care, and he is right. After several months of rest, Beauty is sold to a nearby family. Their groom recognizes Beauty. He is Joe Green, now grown up. He is delighted to be reunited with Beauty, and Beauty is happy to have found a comfortable place to live and a person who will treat him well.

Black Beauty Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction


1 Beauty has an idyllic early life with his mother.

Rising Action

2 Beauty is sold to Squire Gordon.

3 The Earl of W— buys Beauty and allows mistreatment.

4 Scarred for life, Beauty is sold to a livery stable.

5 Kindhearted Jerry Barker buys Beauty as a cab horse.

6 Because he gets sick, Jerry sells Beauty to a baker.


7 Sold again, Beauty collapses from overwork and mistreatment.

Falling Action

8 Beauty is bought by a farmer and nursed back to health.


9 Sold to the Blomefields, Beauty is reunited with Joe.

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