Topics for Discussion
1. How does the treatment animals receive affect their behavior? What examples from the story support your answer? Have you personally witnessed evidence that supports this claim?
2. Black Beauty's mother ponders why people choose to hunt on horses for animals they could easily trap, track on foot, or buy on the open market without risking injury or the loss of property. Does the joy of hunting outweigh these considerations? Is hunting a morally acceptable pursuit? Why or why not?
3. Should people bear the responsibility for stopping animal abuse when they see it? In today's society, what measures can people take?
4. Does the episode about Reuben Smith realistically portray the potential hazards of alcohol abuse? Why or why not?
5. Written over one hundred years ago, Black Beauty portrays women in very traditional roles. What personal and professional advances have women achieved since Sewell's day? How do you think Sewell would have felt about the women's movement?
6. Captain admits that he cannot understand the logic that leads humans to engage in warfare, and Black Beauty's mother claims that people hunt for reasons beyond a horse's understanding. What point is Sewell making with the horses' confusion? Is the technique effective?
7. Jerry Barker turns down an easy, regular Sunday job, explaining that he does not believe in working on Sundays. But then he drives someone to the country on a Sunday. Is he simply being inconsistent and hypocritical, or does he have a good reason for taking that one Sunday job? If he has a good reason, what is it?
8. Identify some of the characters whose names reflect their behavior. How do their names fit their personalities?