Half Broke Horses


Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls: the Grandmother’s Point of View

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Jeannette Walls wrote Half Broke Horses to tell the story of her grandmother’s exciting yet arduous life. In this novel, Walls writes in the perspective of her grandmother, and tells her story. This novel shows how Walls found her grandmother’s self-fulfilling ideals to be impactful in her life. Walls is able to express the importance of having your own voice and acting for yourself through her choice of perspective and overall structure of the novel.

Through the use of perspective, Walls was able to assert her claim. Walls wrote the novel through the perspective of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Overall, the character is a headstrong, independent girl who pursues her own ambitions ands strictly follows her own beliefs. Writing the book in her perspective gives an insightful look into her thoughts, and shows how strongly she believes in self fulfillment. For example, Lily was able to tell when a situation needed action or belief. During a bad storm that flooded their home, their mother suggested prayer, to which Lily responded, “To heck with praying!… Bail, dammit, bail!” In this example, Lily knew she had to act now, rather than waste time by praying. She was not afraid of being reprimanded by her mother for disrespecting their beliefs, but rather recognized it was important for them to act on the situation at hand.

Another example was when Lily was going to confront her cheating husband, she said, “As soon as I saw Ted, I lost every bit of ladylike decorum my mother had tried to instill in me.” Instead of remaining a “ladylike” composure, Lily “became a wild woman” who was “cursing and screaming” at her unfaithful husband. This strongly supports Walls’ claim, by showing that she does not hold back, despite women needing to maintain a “ladylike” disposition during this time.

A final example of the perspective supporting her claim was when Lily was offered a teaching job when she was only fifteen. She had told her father, “Dad, I’ve got to strike out on my own sometime. Like you’re always saying, I’ve got to find my purpose.” Walls is able to highly emphasize her claim here because when it is in Lily’s perspective, the importance of the job is highly stressed. The job is a simple representation of Lily fulfilling her own personal desires and searching for opportunity for herself. If it were written in her father’s perspective, it would not have been as emphasized because it was not important to him. Therefore, the choice of perspective helped Walls assert her claim.

The overall structure of the novel helped Walls convey her claim. The book is divided up into nine sections, plus a short epilogue. Each section begins and ends with a new action in the story and then highlights Lily making important decisions. For example, the first section begins with a flood, and ends with the family deciding to move on. The second section begins with the family settling down in their new home, and ends with Lily going off on her own at age fifteen to teach. As the novel progresses, it begins to focus more on Lily, where the claim is strongly supported here. For example, at the end of section three, Lily decides to leave Chicago and head back west because it was simply what she desired. In the beginning of section four, Lily eventually falls into a routine with a new teaching job and expresses her contentment with her decision. Walls composed the novel to be structured like this so the importance of acting for yourself and having your own voice would be highlighted continuously throughout. Rather than having the claim be an underlying message, it was constantly included at the end of each section. Starting and ending each section with Lily making a choice for herself makes Walls’ claim a prominent factor throughout the entire novel.

Half Broke Horses is an intriguing tale of Walls’ grandmother, and her interesting life experiences. Walls recounts the tale through the perspective of her grandmother throughout the entire novel. She is able to express the importance of having your own voice and acting for yourself through her choice of perspective and overall structure of the novel.

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