Study Guide

War Horse Admiration

By Michael Morpurgo


Chapter 1

He smoothed my back first and then my neck, talking all the while about [...] how I would grow up to be the smartest horse in the whole wide world" (1.13)

Albert admires Joey immediately, like love at first sight. Maybe it's because Albert sees a lot of himself in Joey—young but feisty, a lot of potential, and you know, really wants to kick his father in the shins.

Chapter 2

I learned to come at his whistle, not out of obedience but because I always wanted to be with him. (2.2)

Joey admires everything about Albert, and that encourages him to follow his instructions. He tries to find characteristics he admires in other riders he's forced to work with, like Perkins, but with Albert, it's easy.

Chapter 4
Captain Nicholls

"I like your spirit, so when you're old enough, you must come and join the cavalry." (4.21)

Hey, it's not all about the horses. Captain Nicholls sees something special in Albert. It's probably his devotion to his horse, which would make him a great fit for the cavalry. Although Albert doesn't end up joining the cavalry, he does bring his aptitude for horses to the veterinary unit, becoming a valuable member of the military.

Chapter 5

Stubbs never had a horse as beautiful as you to paint. (5.4)

Captain Nicholls's admiration for Joey extends into the realm of art. He hopes to paint a picture that captures Joey's essence so that others might admire him, too. Hey, isn't that kind of what Morpurgo is doing with War Horse?

Chapter 6

"[Nicholls] died leading that charge and you finished it for him. He'd have been proud of you." (6.14)

After the death of his friend, Captain Stewart praises Joey because he thinks that's what Nicholls would have done had he survived.

Chapter 7

"They are the two best horses in the squadron." (7.2)

Once again, Joey and Topthorn are heaped with praise. Why do you think Morpurgo never shows a human soldier receiving any sort of honors?

Chapter 9

"They are not circus animals, they are heroes" (9.2)

Tell that to the horses in Water for Elephants. How does each book treat horses differently?

Chapter 10

"I bet you are the first English in this war to win an Iron Cross, and the last" (10.1)

The soldiers' admiration for the bravery of the horses knows no borders. Even though the horses are English, the German soldiers give them a medal of honor. The horses' bravery and strength transcends the conflict that has put these two countries at odds.

Chapter 19

"There's thousands of our horses out here in France, sir. War veterans, they are." (19.20)

Sergeant Thunder's sentiments echo those of the Germans, who gave Joey and Topthorn a medal of honor. Though we're not sure if Thunder's horses-as-vets idea quite sank in… when was the last time you honored a horse on Veterans Day? Veterinarians Day, maybe.