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War Horse

War Horse

by Michael Morpurgo

Language and Communication Theme

You might think that communication would be an issue for Joey since, you know, he can't talk. But in War Horse, both the English and German—who speak two different languages—manage to communicate just fine with our horse friend. It's all about tone and body language for Joey, and for a brief moment in time, he's even able to brief the two sides together without conflict or violence. So do horses speak the language of peace?

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Why do so many humans talk to Joey even though he can't talk back?
  2. How does Joey communicate with other horses, and how does he communicate with humans? 
  3. Why don't the horses in the book talk to each other? How would the story be different if they did?

Chew on This

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

Joey never gets frustrated by his inability to talk or respond to his human caretakers.

Even though Joey hears everything the humans say, he doesn't really understand. As a horse, he responds more to non-verbal cues, gestures, and tone of voice, not necessarily the words being spoken.

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