Martin Dysart, a British child psychiatrist in his mid-forties. He is suffering doubts about the value of his profession as well as about the worth of his existence. After working with Alan Strang for several weeks and learning about the boy’s intense religiosity, Dysart discovers that he envies the boy his passionate ability to worship a deity, even if it is one derived from the boy’s imagination. He believes that he can purge Alan of his destructive religious beliefs, but he deeply doubts the beneficence of making the boy normal.
Alan Strang, a part-time employee at an appliance store and at Harry Dalton’s stable. At the age of seventeen, he still lives with his parents. Having been torn between his Christian mother’s intense religiosity and his father’s equally intense atheism, at the age of twelve Alan created his own religion, the gods of which are horses ruled by Equus. Alan is taught for years by his mother that biological sex without spiritual love is sinful and that God’s eyes are everywhere and always watching him. When Alan’s first sexual experience occurs in Dalton’s stable, the temple of Alan’s gods, his guilt is so great that he stabs out the eyes of six horses.
Dora Strang, Alan’s mother, a housewife married to Frank. In her mid-fifties, she is extremely religious and has devoted years to reading the Bible to Alan...
(The entire section is 585 words.)