In Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers, what are some significant aspects of the relationship between Eli and his horse Tub?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers, one interesting aspect of the relationship between Eli and his horse Tub is that Eli claims he doesn't like Tub, yet despite his claim, he seems to grow very close to Tub. The closeness may be due to the fact that the two of them actually share some things in common. Tub is described as "portly and low-backed" and unable to travel "more than fifty miles in a day" (p. 6). The irony is that Eli is also described as being a bit portly. In fact, he's so portly that he's unable to escape the gypsy woman's cabin through the window along with Charlie after she curses the doorway using draped beads. Hence, it is possible that Eli forms a bond with Tub, despite saying he doesn't like Tub, due to their similarities.

We know how fond Eli has become of Tub once Tub is attacked by the bear. After Eli successfully kills the bear, he reflects that he was unable to tell if Tub was still alive or not. He says "He did not appear to be breathing," which evidently upsets Eli so much that, as he turns back towards the gypsy woman's cabin, Eli describes the following about himself:

A trembling grew in my hands and in the flesh of my legs. I was ringing all over. (p. 39)

What's more, later when Tub does begin to die from his wound from the bear, Eli is too emotional to be able to shoot Tub dead to put Tub out of his misery and instead walks off, leaving Tub to die on his own. However, if it was really true that Eli did not like Tub, Eli would not have become so overwhelmed with emotion over losing Tub.

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