The Rain Horse

by Ted Hughes

Start Free Trial

What is the theme that Ted Hughes shows in his short story "The Rain Horse"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main theme that Ted Hughes uses for "The Rain Horse" is Man vs. Nature. The unnamed protagonist takes a shortcut through the wood and is beset by a black horse and by the constant rain and thick trees.

The success of this last manoeuvre was restoring his confidence, but he didn't want to venture out in the open field without making sure that the horse was just where he had left it. The perfect move would be to withdraw quickly and leave the horse standing out there in the rain.
(Hughes, "The Rain Horse,"

Because he sees purpose in the horse's attacks, the man gives himself a similar purpose; survive. His anger at the wood and rain is unreasonable because they cannot act with purpose, but the horse can, and it gives him a reason to run, to fight back, and to escape. Without the horse to push him, the man might have ignored the rain and slept in the wood; at one point, he almost slips into hypothermia from the cold, but the memory of the horse wakes him up and drives him to action. With this purpose, the Man fights Nature and, while he doesn't necessarily win, he reaches his destination at the end.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team