Study Guide

War Horse Courage

By Michael Morpurgo


Chapter 1

I struggled until I was weak, kicking out violently every time I felt them relax. (1.3)

Joey shows early on that he will bravely fight his enemies, even if the struggle is futile.

Chapter 2

Terrified, I knew I could not run, for there was nowhere to go, so I put my back to him, and lashed out behind me. I felt my hooves strike home. (2.8)

While some people (like, um, the ones being kicked by Joey) think he's just fiery and disobedient, seeing things from his perspective gives us more insight into his character. How do you think Michael Morpurgo got into the mindset of a horse to write?

Chapter 4

"If Joey goes with you, I go. I want to join up and stay with him." (4.17)

Even at thirteen, Albert has more courage than his father. He's willing to enlist in war, the Great War, and risk death to stay with Joey. Do you think he really understands the consequences at that age?

Chapter 7

"You've done that for me, Joey. Given me back my confidence. Feel I can do anything now. Feel like one of those knights in armor when I'm up on you." (7.7)

Not only is Joey confident himself, but he gives confidence to others, too. He pays attention to Trooper Warren as he rides and compensates for Warren's mistakes so that he doesn't fall off. Because of these subtle corrections, Warren feels like he's improved and can do anything.

Chapter 12

We were back among the fearful noise and stench of battle, hauling our gun through the mud. (12.2)

Instinct, both human and animal, practically screams at you to run away from the noise of gunfire and smell of death. But Joey and the soldiers must march toward it. And you know what? Joey never even considers running away.

Chapter 13

Our newfound health and the optimism of the singing, whistling soldiers brought us to a fresh sense of exhilaration. (13.2)

Even when facing death, the soldiers find a way to maintain their spirits. The soldiers and the horses feed off the courage of one another to build morale.

"If I had the courage--and I haven't--we'd take off down this road and never come back." (13.7)

Is Crazy Old Friedrich a coward because he doesn't desert? Or is he courageous because he stays?

Chapter 15

I wandered now through the mists until my good legs could drag me no farther. (15.18)

The fog of war is scarier than any mist from Silent Hill, that's for sure. But Joey, even while wounded, doesn't stop and cower in fear. No, he keeps going toward the unknown. That's one brave horse.

Chapter 19

Albert was always with me, and so I was never afraid of the guns anymore. (19.2)

Whereas Joey gave courage to Trooper Warren by paying attention and compensating for his faults as a rider, Albert gives courage to Joey because he is an extremely experienced rider; the two work together perfectly.

Chapter 21

"I'll do the bidding, like I said—it's against orders, but I'll do it." (21.3)

Sometimes courage isn't about following orders—it's about breaking them. Sergeant Thunder defies the orders of his superiors by bidding on Joey in the horse auction. What kind of consequences could he face if he were caught?