Half Broke Horses Questions and Answers
by Jeannette Walls

Half Broke Horses book cover
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What is the conflict Lily faces in Half Broke Horses and what is the solution?

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Half Broke Horses was written by Jeannette Walls. In this partially true and partially fictional work, Walls tells the story of her parents, siblings, and grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Lily had a challenging childhood. Her father was disabled and her mother thought of herself as too feeble to work. Therefore, at an early age, Lily learned to become a responsible adult. By the time she was a teenager, Lily had already become independent and was teaching in schools in desolate areas in the Southwest. Her solution to the conflict of being poor due to her parents being mostly unemployed was to become self-reliant.

Although Lily faced many different conflicts in her life, poverty and making ends meet was the main conflict, and her solution was to persevere and be a survivor. She never gave up. As the title suggests, she even broke horses at a young age, which symbolizes her courage and bravery. She used those qualities to her advantage, and she stood up for her rights, which is something that many women were afraid to do back in the first half of the twentieth century.

There are other social conflicts in the story, but I have discussed what I deem to be the main conflict, which seems to always center around poverty and making ends meet. Lily's solution to that conflict was always being self-reliant, a survivor, and persevering no matter how difficult the circumstances. In that sense, she was truly a rebel for the time period in which she grew up. She would also be considered quite determined, even by today's standards.

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