Shawntaye Perry Mr. Kroll English II 08, May 2013 The Horse Dealers Daughter Lawrence’s “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter was originally called “The Miracle,” marking the protagonist’s rebirth of love out of death. “The Horse Dealer’s Daughters” could possibly have two different themes. ). One being love and the other being death. Lawrence takes the old school “boy meets girl” in a whole different direction. Lawrence also uses a lot of symbolism in his short story. He gives her big brother Joe horse-like characteristics. Joe identifies with the beasts. 701) To drill this idea farther into the reader’s head he describes his posture as horse-like more than once and then the character exits with his “… tail between his legs. ” (704) Fred Henry is likened to an animal albeit a less mindless one, and Mabel is said to have had a bull-doggish expression. He also uses the pond as symbolism; symbolizing death. He describes the pond cold dark. He describes the evening as full of death. The story begins with Mabel and her brothers sitting around the table eating breakfast. Well, Mabel, and what are you going to do with yourself? ” asked Joe, with foolish flippancy. (ebooks) For a decade, Mabel played housekeeper for her “ineffectual brothers” and although she was not happy, (Norton anthology). Her apparent inability to plan her future is initially a source of tension and conflict. However, the events that unfold make clear that the life that Mabel has led for the past twenty-seven years has molded her into a determined and independent woman. Through these characteristics, Mabel finds her strength.
Yet ironically these qualities also make her see the horror of the loss of self-sufficiency that seems inevitable with the family’s breakup. (short story master pieces penn). Their family what’s left of it is being torn apart. They were all frightened at the collapse of their lives, and the sense of disaster in which they were involved left them no inner freedom. (classic reader). Her brothers are all going their separate ways leaving Mabel to fend for herself. She has a sister she can go live with but she refuses, she doesn’t want to leave the place she has lived her whole life.
Now, for Mabel, the end had come. Still she would not cast about her. She would follow her own way just the same. She would always hold the keys of her own situation. Mindless and persistent, she endured from day to day. Why should she think? Why should she answer anybody? It was enough that this was the end, and there was no way out. (ebooks) Through his use of symbolism, Lawrence also has his readers believing the story could be about death, the pond combines the two ideas. The pond represents death and love. They are one in the same. Mabel wants to die so she can be reunited with her mother.
This thought becomes real when Mabel visits her mother’s grave. . Mabel, the twenty-seven year old spinster, is revived physically and spiritually after her submergence in the “dead cold pond” (2337). Lawrence seems be demonstrating the life, death and rebirth of Mabel. There is an overwhelming sense death throughout the scene at the cemetery as Mabel tends to her mother’s plot. Lawrence says that “Mindless and persistent, she seemed in a sort of ecstasy to be coming nearer to her fulfillment, her own glorification, approaching her dead mother, who was glorified. Mabel has lost her will to live since her mother passed away, and now her father passed leaving the family broke and in debt with nothing. In her mind, Mabel has lost everything. She was only proud when there was money, she was established, and brutally proud and reserved. Later that evening Mabel packed up the things she uses to clean her mother’s grave, and off to the cemetery she went. Lawrence describes the afternoon at the cemetery, “grey, deadened, and wintry, with a slow, moist, heavy coldness sinking in and deadening all the faculties. The graveyard, the “… thick, ugly falling dusk…” (707). While she is cleaning her mother’s grave, Mabel feels a “sincere satisfaction” in her work, she gets so much satisfaction attending to her dead mother that she wishes she was dead just so she could be with her mother literally, through death, rather than just figuratively through a sense of unity with the departed one. She took minute pains, went through the park in a state bordering on pure happiness, as if in performing this task she came into a subtle, intimate connection with her mother.
For the life she followed here in the world was far less real than the world of death she inherited from her mother. (ebooks) Mabel felt it be at her best interest that she would be better off with her mother, who is dead. She preferred to follow in her mother’s footsteps (Hebert). Mabel is seen near a “square, dark cold pond,” he’s describing the pond as square, dark and cold that symbolizes his feelings for Mabel which before the attempted drowning were null. The pond is a symbol that can be interpreted in many different ways; one being it symbolized love (Lu 8).
The doctor watched Mabel the entire time as she moved straight down the field to the pond. She stood on the bank of the pond for a moment never looking up. Then she started walking into the water. The Dr. stood still and watched her as she did wondering what she was doing. He watched her going deeper into the water; she kept going until he could no longer see her. This is where the love theme is introduced. This shows that he had an interest in her and what she was doing. After realizing what Mabel was doing Jack rushed down to the pond to save her (Lawrence 744).
Jack showed his true love for her when he entered the water to save her, even though he could not swim. Jack did what any doctor would do and saved her life, after he brought her from the pond he made the water come from her mouth (Lawrence 744) The doctor pulls her out of the water and carries her all the way home. This is where boy meets girl and this where they are supposed to fall in love. After he gets her home he lays her on the floor and undresses her. “Who undressed me? ” she asked, her eyes resting full and inevitably on his face. I did” he replied “to bring you round. ”(Lawrence 558) Now logic would tell us that the reason Jack felt free to undress Mabel is that he is a doctor. Doctors do not look at naked women in the same way as, for example, a lover would; There is absolutely no reason to believe that he has ever looked at Mabel lustfully, or even lovingly, On being told that he was, Mabel responds by asking “Do you love me then? ” (558). Now Jack has never, for one moment, felt a tinkering of love for Mabel. She is his friend’s sister he’s never even looked at her twice.
Mabel assumes he must love her, since he has saved her life. The fact that he has removed her clothes as only a lover would only seals the deal. She grabs his legs and kisses his knees clutches them yelling “You love me. I know you love me, I know you do. ” Jack just stood there, when he rescued and restored her, he was a doctor and she was a patient. He was scared, even a little petrified. He didn’t have any intentions of loving her. He had had no single personal thought of her. (558) Mabel kept repeating you love me, “Yes” the word cost him a painful effort. Not because it wasn’t true.
But because it was too newly true, (560) And he hardly wanted it to be true, even now. (560) He wasn’t looking at Mabel he was looking elsewhere, he wanted to look anywhere except at her. His hand was on her shoulder and it stayed there he couldn’t move it. She had gone suddenly very still. He looked down at her. Her eyes were now wide with fear, with doubt, the light was dying from her face, a shadow of terrible greyness was returning. He could not bear the touch of her eyes’ question upon him, and the look of death behind the question. Dr. Ferguson fell to his knees and kissed her.
He noticed she was crying he asked her why she was crying and she said she wasn’t really and he told her he loved her then she tells him he wants to go upstairs and get him some dry clothes. Mabel goes up stairs and she’s up there a while the Doctor yells up to her that he has to leave she finally comes back down dressed in black. She offers to make him tea but he refuses. He bends to give her a kiss and she says she terrible he can’t love her she’s horrible. The irony of this story is two people who never thought of each other in any way except for doctor and patient; found love while escaping the dark cold clenches of death.