Study Guide

War Horse Family

By Michael Morpurgo


Chapter 1

"Don't speak like that about your father, Albert. He's been through a lot. It's not right." (1.12)

Albert's mother puts a lot emphasis on family right from the get-go. She thinks that the fact that he's Albert's father trumps any of the drunken shenanigans he often pulls. How does Albert feel about this? Let's just say he doesn't agree.

Chapter 2

"[Joey] can't be handled that way. I know him, Father. I know him as if he were my own brother." (2.10)

The bond between Joey and Albert is much stronger than just boy and pet, or boy and partner, or even boy and best friend. These first chapters serve to tell us just how strong their relationship is.

Albert and I grew up together. A yearling colt and a young boy have more in common than awkward gawkishness. (2.1)

What else do Albert and Joey have in common? We can think of a love of running around fields and a dislike for Albert's father. Oh, but Albert doesn't kick his father in the shins.

Chapter 3

"You've got to try to understand [your father], Albert. He deserves that much." (3.3)

Once again, Albert's mother tries to get her son to see the goodness in his father. It's a little difficult because, right after this, drunk dad sells Joey to the military. Somehow Albert forgives him by the end of the novel, and they're all one big happy family. If you were in his shoes, would you be able to forgive your dad?

Chapter 4

"Joey is my horse. He's my horse and he always will be, no matter who buys him." (4.16)

Substitute "brother" for "horse" and you've got yourself one adorable sibling relationship. Except for the whole someone purchasing your brother thing.

Chapter 5

Albert, his face and his voice, stayed clear in my mind despite the unerring routine of the work that was turning me imperceptibly into an army horse. (5.14)

Although Joey never thinks of his mother again—not what she looked like or the sound of her neigh—he remembers every detail of Albert while he is at war. What gives? Why is he more connected to Albert than to his mother?

Chapter 17

Quite where I had heard the voice before I did not know. I knew only that these two words sent a tremor of joy and hope and expectation through my body. (17.4)

Just as children never forget the sound of their parents' voices, the sound of Albert's voice stays ingrained in Joey's subconscious.

Chapter 18

I think perhaps they cared for both of us as if we were their brothers. (18.24)

Even though Albert's parents never quite got it, the other soldiers see how strong the bond is between him and Joey. Maybe it's because they've formed similar bonds themselves, while Albert's parents always looked at horses as farm animals.

Chapter 19

"[David] looked after me, Joey. Like a brother he was to me." (19.5)

Don't worry, Albert can also form familial bonds with people (not just horses). It's unsurprising that David and Albert became so close; they're both only children without actual brothers or sisters of their own.

Chapter 21

"My little granddaughter, Emilie, cared for [the horses] and came to love them like her own family." (21.13)

Emilie's grandpapa has no heirs after Emilie's death. Yep, he's the last of his bloodline. That's probably why he goes to such great lengths to find Joey and Topthorn and essentially adopt them. With the horses back in the family, Emilie's family memories can live on.