A White Horse Themes
by Thom Jones

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Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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“The White Horse” is about the search for inspiration and for meaning in life. Suffering from terrible depression, Ad Magic tries to obliterate himself with drugs and alcohol in order to escape from his life. He is afflicted with a form of epilepsy that causes him to regularly disappear from his normal life and wander the globe. He has found himself in places such as Zanzibar; American Samoa; Lima, Peru; and Lusaka, Zambia. Ad Magic explains that he essentially runs away whenever he feels a complete hatred for the world. Once on his journeys, he begins to find some inner peace only when he starts thinking about something other than himself, for example, when he takes care of a white horse that has been abandoned on the beach, and, indirectly, a young boy who wanders there as well.

Though Ad Magic realizes early in the story that he has had another relapse and that clues to his identity are at his hotel room, he avoids returning there, back to his life. He appears to be a figure of humor, spending his money wildly, but his connections with the white horse and the young boy enable Ad Magic to become a protector. His ability to create is connected to a purpose deeper than just selling things.

In the story, the white horse reminds Ad Magic of a white horse that figured in the final emotional breakdown of European philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. (In 1889, Nietzsche saw a man beating a white horse in the street. Nietzsche threw his arms around the neck of the horse to save its life.) However, instead of figuring in deepening emotional problems for Ad Magic, the horse and its survival connect Ad Magic with his identity, a sense of creative magic, and a meaning in life.

“A White Horse” is also about pain and the struggle to escape it. As the...

(The entire section is 473 words.)