Theme analysis of "The Outlaw" by Sinclair Ross

Essay by Deez-NutzCollege, UndergraduateB, April 2008

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From a young age, children have a strong desire to become adults. They imitate their parents and other relatives when playing games, and try to act as grownups, when they are not. Sinclair Ross explores this idea in "The Outlaw", a story about a boy who seeks guidance from his horse, Isabel, on his path to maturity.

The boy projects his thoughts and feelings onto his horse, which represent his dreams and his attitude toward life. He gives Isabel anthropomorphic qualities, which depict her as a temptress, as trying to seduce him to ride her. He mentions that: "She had sized me up, evidently, as soft-hearted as well as faint-hearted, and decided there was just a chance that I might weaken and go riding.(p18/130)" This statement shows his feelings about himself and his sense of insecurity and the fact that he is a coward. Since the horse has a notorious reputation, his parents say: "nobody expects it of you (p18/130)", referring to him being able to tame Isabel; therefore, she has become a challenge to him in order to cure his sense of inferiority.

The boy imagines conquering foreign lands with Isabel: "Thundering battle chargers, fleet Arabians, untamed mustangs - sitting beside her on her manger I knew and rode them all (p19/130)", this represents his dreams and fantasies which symbolize how much he thinks he can achieve by taming Isabel. However, in reality he is a coward; he ran away from a fight and wants use Isabel to put his shameful past behind him. He goes on to say: "she was a dangerous horse, and dutifully my parents kept warning me (p19/130)", which shows him trying to justify why he is scared to ride her. He believes to be a grownup, but does not...