War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Joey remembers when he was taken away from his mother. He was a young colt then. His mother was sold off at the auction to the highest bidder and he could not go with her. Someone else bought Joey. He went to a farm with a young boy named Albert. This boy was nice to Joey, but Joey was unsure about the people as of yet. There was an older mare there who gave Joey comfort in his unfamiliar surroundings.
Some time past and Joey had grown to be fond of Albert, but money was tight and Joey was sold. There was a war going on. The soldiers who took Joey promised to take care of him. Joey made friends with another, older, war horse. He had to learn to walk among loud noises and gunshots. At one point he was taken by Germans, then lived with a girl named Emily, then taken again. Would Joey ever see a familiar face again amidst all of these loud noises and death?
What I liked
I thought this book was quite clever. It’s an interesting exercise to get inside the mind of an animal. War is tough enough, but war from a horse’s point of view must certainly be difficult. In looking at something human through an animal’s point of view, we lose that part of humanity that always has an ulterior motive. There are times when each and every one of us may justify a war, but would a horse, or a dog, or a dolphin, or whatever, ever justify a great war? An animal’s understanding of such a thing would be minimal. The animal would just see creatures who were the same type of creature, seemingly killing each other for no apparent reason.
The book was also emotionally touching. Horses are intelligent animals and I’m sure they can remember quite a bit. It’s a bit heart-warming to imagine a horse reuniting with someone they used to know.
What I didn’t like
Animal stories tend to be sad and this one wasn’t really an exception. Someone you grow to admire throughout the story always ends up dying, because they’re an animal and generally animals don’t have lifespans as long as those of humans. Sassy always goes over that waterfall, no matter how many times you watch the movie and it’s sad each time, let’s just be thankful she’s not actually dead. Mufasa always gets thrown off that cliff by Scar and it’s sad each and every time.
I forget where in the world I heard this, but there’s this saying that the US has never lost a war in which either horses or donkeys were involved. Maybe it was horses. I honestly think this quote was from one of the National Treasure movies.
If you reunited with a pet many years later, do you think that pet would remember you?
Would you send your pet to the war effort?