The Significance of an Individual's Perspective in "Horses of the Night" by Margaret Laurence.

Essay by TVGHigh School, 12th gradeA, March 2006

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How an individual looks at life makes all the difference in how it will turn out. In the story, "Horses of the Night," by Margaret Laurence, a young and innocent narrator, Vanessa, befriends the much older Chris, who deals with his problems by hiding in his own fantasy world. Chris and Vanessa are character-foils of each other, and their perspectives are represented accordingly. Vanessa's perspective keeps her grounded to reality, and Chris's is a very negative force in his life. Laurence shows that the abnormal perspective that Chris holds has very tragic consequences.

Just as the time in which "Horses of the Night" is set infuses the story with an atmosphere of despair, so does the predicament that Chris faces from the beginning of his appearance in the story. Although Chris has at least high hopes on the outside that he will make it to college, the reader, his family, and possibly even him know that, "the answer is a foregone conclusion": he won't be able to afford it.

Vanessa is aware that she is living during the Depression, but it affects her much less than it does Chris. From her perspective, "the Depression and drought were external and abstract, malevolent gods whose names I secretly learned although they were concealed from me, and whose evil I sensed only superstitiously."

Chris tries to escape from his hardships by taking a viewpoint of optimism, and often enhancing things to seem better than they are. For example, Chris tells Vanessa he is going to be a world traveler when in reality he is only becoming a traveling salesman. Chris wants people's judgments of him to be good, and also believes his own mistruths to create a better sense of self-worth for himself. One of the reasons he...