Study Guide

The Scorpio Races Violence

By Maggie Stiefvater


It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die. (Prologue.1)

The very first line of the novel does a cracking job of setting a grim tone. This book is definitely going to be more Gears of War than My Little Pony.

Last year a water horse trailing flowers and bells tore a man's arm half from his body. (Prologue.10)

It takes a whole ten paragraphs for Maggie Stiefvater to prove that she wasn't kidding with that first line. She's basically saying, "Boom. Dismemberment. This ain't your grandmother's Black Beauty."

Padgett is beginning to look improbably: something about him is starting to look less like a man and more like meat. (4.40)

Okay, this is a disgusting description, but it doesn't seem to unsettle Sean Kendrick at all. Must be because he's used to the violence of the island.

The mare crouches, shaking her dark quarry. She's ripping it, holding part down with a hoof. The sand pools blood. (8.13)

Not even puppies are safe from the bloodthirsty water horses. This quote isn't about a human casualty, but a dog that got a little too close to the horse's snapping jaws.

End of the first day, the endless first day. The beach has had its share of casualties. (9.3)

Some beaches shut down because of water pollution or the occasional shark attack. In Thisby, bloody bodies from water horse attacks are just the sign of another November.

"It's a war down there." (12.34)

Peg Gratton makes the Scorpio Races seem like the first few minutes of Saving Private Ryan—blood and body parts on the beach, and wondering "is this all worth it?"

There's a snap of blunt teeth, and just like that, his fingers are gone. (15.29)

The horse's teeth may snap, but now this guy won't. And in a book this bloody, he's one of the lucky ones.

"Tell me that again [...] two weeks from now when you've seen the dead bodies on the beach." (33.67)

Sean may not see God in a church, but unlike George Holly, he doesn't see God on the beach either... unless it's a vengeful God. Sean sees death and violence on a daily basis, and there's nothing holy about that to him.

Quick as a snake, Corr's flat teeth crush into his neck. (42.91)

Even Corr, who has been relatively tame for the majority of the novel, is susceptible to his violent nature. When ridden by someone who isn't Sean, he lashes out.

If [Malvern] has touched Corr, I will kill him. (53.28)

Violence begets violence on Thisby, it seems. Malvern uses violence to intimidate Sean by injuring the horses, and Sean plans to retaliate with violence if Mutt gets his angry paws on Corr. It's a vicious cycle.

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