Something Black Beauty reminds us about time and again is that its equine protagonist has basically no control over his own life. It might seem unusual to have an entire story about someone who is at the mercy of others, but that's the life of a horse. A creature who's bought and sold doesn't have any free will… or does he? Issues of power are at the core of this novel, both for horses—who seemingly have none—and for the humans who control them.
Questions About Power
How does Anna Sewell make us aware of her protagonist's lack of power? How does she manage to make the story exciting even though her hero has little control over his own life?
Do horses have any power at all? If so, what is it? How do they use it?
How does this novel show the right way to use power over an animal? How about the wrong way?
Are horses the only powerless characters in this novel? What about the humans? Are there any similarities between the lack of power humans experience and the lack of power horses experience? What does this tell you?
Chew on This
Even though it might seem like horses are completely powerless in Black Beauty, they do have the power to make some important choices about their behavior.
In Black Beauty, some humans are just as powerless as the horses they own, so it's not always horses who are victims of fate.