(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Everything in This Country Must” is a first-person account related by fifteen-year-old Katie, who speaks in a voice that is at once straightforward and poetic. The story begins with Katie and her father working to pull their horse from a flooded river, in which one of its hooves is caught between rocks. Katie pulls on a rope to keep the horse’s head above water while her father, who is smaller than she is and afraid of the river, dives beneath the surface to attempt to free the horse’s trapped hoof. The threat of losing the Belgian mare carries special significance to her father because he has also lost his wife (called Mammy by Katie) and son Fiachra; later in the story it is revealed that they died after being hit by a British military truck.

When headlights appear in the distance, it appears that help has arrived in the form of a neighbor or friend; instead, the strangers’ accents reveal them to be British, and their uniforms suggest that they are soldiers. The farmer’s desire to rescue the horse seems to flag at this point, though the soldiers are eager to assist, even risking their lives to save the horse from drowning. When the soldiers treat Katie kindly, lending her a jacket and speaking to her with affection, her father responds by violently pushing one of them away and speaking rudely.

To help save the horse, the soldiers—assuming that the horse is more valuable than a hedge—drive their truck through the hedge,...

(The entire section is 577 words.)