Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 701
It's what give me the fantods. I can't make it out. The women in the house were all ugly mean-looking women, not nice to look at or be near. They were homely too, except one who was tall and looked a little like the gelding Middlestride, but not clean like him, but with a hard ugly mouth.
Sometimes I'm so mad about it I want to fight someone. It gives me the fantods. What did he do it for? I want to know why.
Jerry bragged in that bad woman house as I know Sunstreak wouldn't never have bragged. He said that he made that horse, that it was him that won the race and made the record. He lied and bragged like a fool. I never heard such silly talk.
And then, what do you suppose he did! He looked at the woman in there, the one that was lean and hard-mouthed and looked a little like the gelding Middlestride, but not clean like him, and his eyes began to shine just as they did when he looked at me and at Sunstreak in the paddocks at the track in the afternoon.
These quotes clearly highlight the teenage mindset, making clear the motivations and biases of our unnamed protagonist. Based on his reactions, we can conclude that he has had a terrible shock. His idol, Jerry Tillford, has turned out to be a major disappointment to him, and his corresponding disillusionment is obvious in his impassioned words.
The word "fantods" references a visceral reaction that is manifested in nervous or agitated physical movements. Basically, our protagonist is saying that Jerry Tillson's behavior "gives him the creeps" or makes him feel deeply uncomfortable.
Our teenage protagonist's reaction tells us that his prevailing identity is based upon his obsession with horses. Due to his limited experience in the area of male-female interactions, he can see little sense in Jerry Tillford's actions. It never enters our protagonist's mind that Jerry could conceivably have a life outside of his equine profession. The phrase "bad woman house" shows how affected our protagonist is by Jerry Tillford's behavior; he can't imagine why Jerry would associate with such women.
Bildad shows up with a job as cook for some outfit. Often when I think about it, his always going all season to the races and working in the livery barn in the winter where horses are and where men like to come and talk about horses, I wish I was a nigger. It's a foolish thing to say, but that's the way I am about being around horses, just crazy. I can't help it.
Over in the sheds the niggers giggle and sing. Bacon is being fried and coffee made. Everything smells lovely. Nothing smells better than coffee and manure and horses and niggers and bacon frying and pipes being smoked out of doors on a morning like that. It just gets you, that's what it does.
The place smelled rotten and there was rotten talk, the kind a kid hears around a livery stable in a town like Beckersville in the winter but don't ever expect to hear talked when there are women around. It was rotten. A nigger wouldn't go into such a place.
In the above quotes, we can see that our protagonist venerates anyone who shares his obsession with horses. However, what's even more surprising (for his time, at least), is his deep sense of connection with the darker-skinned workers at the race track. To our protagonist, they are part of what gives him happiness on a daily...
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basis. He associates them with all the things he likes: bacon, horses, and coffee.
Our protagonist's bias is clear in the way he perceives the world: anyone who works with horses is considered worthy of admiration and respect. Conversely, anyone who departs from this lifestyle is considered unworthy of any regard. Our protagonist is a teenager, living through one of the most vulnerable periods of his life. His mindset is deeply affected by his experiences; they shape how he makes decisions. It's clear that, by the end of the story, he's still at a loss as to how he should process Jerry Tillford's mysterious behavior.