War Horse Questions and Answers
by Michael Morpurgo

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What is a brief summary of War Horse? What are the main concerns in the book, and what features has the author used to express these?

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In War Horse, Michael Morpurgo explores violence, cruelty, and courage in war through the eyes of a horse, Joey. He's a half-thoroughbred colt purchased by a drunk farmer. The farmer's son, Albert raises Joey and forms a strong bond with the young horse. Albert teaches Joey how to plow, even though the task is difficult for Joey as a half-thoroughbred. Albert's father sells Joey to the army as a war horse. From another horse, Topthorn, Joey learns how to charge into battle. Both horses are captured by the Germans and made to pull ambulances. A local girl named Emilie and her grandfather care for the horses and keep them when the German forces move away. Joey now helps Topthorn learn how to plow fields. Another group of German soldiers take the horses and use them to pull artillery. This work proves too much for Topthorn, who dies. Joey is frightened by a tank into the heart of the battle, where he becomes trapped in barbed wire. Soldiers from both sides stop fighting long enough to free the horse. Recovering from his ordeal, Joey is reunited with Albert, who has enlisted in the army. At the end of the war, Emilie's grandfather helps Albert by outbidding the butcher for Joey. Joey returns to the family farm with Albert. The story details the struggle to adapt and stretch beyond one's perceived limits. This is shown in Joey's adaptation from riding horse to plow horse to war horse. By telling the story from Joey's point of view, Morpurgo emphasizes the waste and trauma experienced on all sides during war.

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