What message is conveyed through the story The Summer of the Beautiful Horse?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The primary message of the story, The Summer of the Beautiful Horse, is that despite social or economic challenges, there are some truths which are absolute and should be practiced under and all conditioned.  It is undeniable that the story is set within a family that is poor.  Their poverty is not used as a crutch or something that limits the emotional quotient of the boys or the people in the community.  The boys' love for the horse is genuine and sincere, not motivated out of some ulterior motive of greed or economic want.  Their love for the animal is quite authentic.  When they return the horse, they have a genuine understanding that they need to return what is not theirs.  They are not motivated by anything else other than the highly human reaction of wanting to make right what is wrong.  The reaction of the horse's owner, John Byro, is also very real and valid.  He knows very well the boys have taken the horse, but gives multiple opportunities for the boys to recognize the consequences of their action.  Ironically enough, the owner shows a sense of charity and good will and this benefits him, as the horse is much more manageable and well conditioned as a result of the boys' work with the horse.  In the final analysis, when we examine the encounter of the boys, the horse, and the owner, there is a trend that while economic hardships are a strong factor in how we behave, they are not a determinant one.  There is a realm of human action that can lie outside the strictly causal world of economics.  The setting of the story seems to be Depression time California, which makes the economic reading even more intriguing.

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