Black Beauty: Book of Dreams
So I thought I might start out with a nice cliche picture of the perfect horse; a Black Beauty, as it were. I had never read Black Beauty before this class, nor seen a film adaptation. However, I have heard it said that all children, but especially girls, who read this book at a certain age, or a certain time of the month, become enamored with horses. Thusfar, I am unimpressed. Beauty’s master says, “God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves, but He had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, by which thay had often saved the lives of men” (Sewell, 48). However, I did not find much of this “perfect knowledge” shining through into the characterization of the animals. Rather, they seem almost meticulously humanized, even learning over time to understand our language. I wonder at how much projection man does onto the animal. Now, mind you, the argument that animals have no feelings or rights is one that is used to exact horrible cruelties on animals, however, the practice of projecting HUMAN emotions and rights onto them seems equally self-serving. It seems strange how desperate we are to find that animals have a deep understanding, which may resonate with our own. I don’t know if that sort of fantasy is true, let alone productive. It seem like projecting emotion onto a situation almost always distorts it, driving it either one way or another, and that in desperation to reconcile bad emotions, a man can be driven to almost anything, if he is unaware. However, I would agree with the schoolmaster of the boys who are being talked to after one of them has been caught pulling the wings off of flies, “Then he talked very seriously to all the boys about cruelty, and said how hard-hearted and cowardly it was to hurt the weak and the helpless; but what suck in my mind was this, he said that cruelty was the devil’s own mark, and if we saw anyone who took pleasure in cruelty, we might know who he belonged to” (Sewell 52). While the fear mongering of that statement is a little nauseating, cruelty seems to hurt everone it touches. What is the appropriate response to the presence of cruelty? At times it feels like being upset that human beings are cruel is like being upset that it rains. And perhaps, I wonder, cruelty, like rain, serves a purpose in the renewal of the world around us. Love, however, seems infinitely important. As John suggests, “there is no religion without love” (Sewell 52) Love and Cruelty, perhaps they are like rain and sunshine.