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War Horse

War Horse

by Michael Morpurgo

Admiration Theme

Go check out the medal ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic dressage competition.  Why? We'll tell you when you get back.

Welcome back.

So did you notice something? Even though the horses did half the work, the riders are the ones getting the medals. What gives?

In War Horse, soldiers look up to Joey and Topthorn as true heroes of war and bestow upon them their military's highest honors. They celebrate the horse just as much—maybe even more—than their riders. And we're glad they do, since the horses in the novel are galloping through gunshots and barbed wire, instead of just dancing around a field. No disrespect to a gold medal, but being a decorated war veteran is pretty darn fancy.

Questions About Admiration

  1. Why does almost every soldier admire Joey and shower him with praise and rewards? What do they see in him?
  2. Do you think the soldiers admire all horses the way they admire Joey and Topthorn? Do you think they treat other horses differently?
  3. Why does Joey look up to Albert? Or Topthorn? What qualities in them does Joey admire?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

As a horse, Joey is an exception to the us vs. them mentality that prevails in times of war. Both sides are able to put aside their differences and honor him for his accomplishments, which wouldn't be possible if he were a human in uniform.

One German soldier says, "God got it right the day he created [horses]." (14.4) Perhaps people admire horses because they possess qualities they themselves do not have.

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