Symbols In Margaret Laurence's 'Horses The Night'

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Through her use of a changing narrative perspective, Margaret Laurence creates a contrast in character development. Laurence shows the reader the male protagonist of the story, Chris, through the eyes of a child first, then of an adolescent, and finally through an adult’s eyes. At the beginning of “Horses of the Night,” the narrator, Vanessa notices that Chris looks completely oblivious towards Vanessa’s Grandfather’s belligerence, as he is displaying “no sign of feeling anything.” This is the first sign Laurence provides about Chris escaping in order to cope with reality. Next, when Vanessa visits Shallow Creek she comes to a realization that most of the stories Chris has shared with her about the farm, only exists “in some other dimension.” …show more content…

The symbols help her make clear that Chris is indeed taking refuge in a world of illusion, a world he finds better suited to the sensitive person that he is. Firstly, the miniature saddle that is mentioned in both the beginning and end of the story is a symbol of Chris’s need to escape reality. The saddle has criss-crossed lines sewn on which is a brand for Chris’s “ranch” in Shallow Creek. When Vanessa asks Chris about the ranch he only ever talks about the imaginary ranch. Chris describes the ranch to be like a place of refuge or paradise. His reason for creating this fantasy is, because the real ranch is bleak, and depressing. Secondly, Chris’s innocent and childlike behaviour is symbolized by Vanessa and the other children. His love for children and innocence is illustrated by the stories he shared with Vanessa about the dinosaurs and the ranch. Finally, the horses “Duchess and Firefly” are another symbol for Chris’s need to escape from reality. These imaginary horses show just how much Chris prefers imaginary over reality. As they are presented, the symbols suggest that the result of Chris’ attempts to escape reality will end in frustration, or failure, or even in

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