Study Guide

Black Beauty Power

By Anna Sewell


I hope you will fall into good hands, but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him. (3.13)

As a young horse, Beauty's made aware early in his life that he has no control over his own fate. How to live a good life even though he's powerless over his own future is one of the important lessons his mother teaches him.

It seems that horses have no relations; at least, they never know each other after they are sold. (5.20)

Here's a particularly poignant (and upsetting) thought: Because horses are essentially slaves and have no power over where they live, they are often separated from their relatives at very young ages and never see them again. This is the case with Beauty, who leaves his mother after a few years and is never reunited with her.

We horses must take things as they come, and always be contented and willing so long as we are kindly used. (10.2)

When he explains how great it is to have a rider who uses a light touch on the reins, Beauty adds this little aside, reminding us that horses really don't have any power at all. It's a strong reminder to humans to be careful with animals because many animals are powerless in comparison.

They always think they can improve upon Nature and mend what God has made. (10.18)

This novel points out that humans can become abusive with the great power they have over animals. Have you heard the expression "playing God"? That's what Ginger's talking about here—humans who abuse animals physically to make the animals look or behave differently.

"They'll soon take you away, and I shall lose the only friend I have, and most likely we shall never see each other again. 'Tis a hard world!" (27.8)

When Beauty and Ginger reunite after Beauty is recovering from his career-changing injury, Ginger laments that they will certainly be separated. Can you imagine being forced to leave your only friend in the world? This is just one of the many heartbreaking plot twists that the horses in this book have to deal with.

I said, "You used to stand up for yourself if you were ill-used."

"Ah!" she said. "I did once, but it's no use; men are strongest, and if they are cruel and have no feeling, there is nothing that we can do, but just bear it, bear it on and on to the end." (40.6-7)

When Beauty runs into Ginger near the end of the story, he sees she's been overworked, nearly to death. He asks her why she doesn't stand up for herself anymore, and she tells him that it doesn't seem to make a difference—men are too powerful. Ginger has no choice but to keep working, a tragic end for a once-spirited horse.

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