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...
Jules Tonnerre, half French, half Indian, settled in Manawaka after the Meti Indian uprising of 1885. Three generations of his family now live in a collection of shacks, surrounded by junk, in the river valley outside Manawaka. The town is Scots-Irish and Ukrainian, and the Tonnerres are not part of it in any sense. They work irregularly, they are sometimes involved in drunken brawls, and their domestic lives are as chaotic as their housing.
Because Piquette Tonnerre, Jules’s granddaughter, has a tubercular leg, Dr. MacLeod wants to take her with his own family to their summer cabin at Diamond Lake, for she will have little chance to recuperate at home. Grandmother MacLeod refuses to join them if a half-breed is included in the household. Preferring Piquette to her mother-in-law, the doctor’s wife agrees to have the girl come along. Vanessa, age eleven at this time, loves the unspoiled beauty of Diamond Lake and hopes Piquette will share this love, for Vanessa romanticizes the Indian heritage, its warlike past, and its bond with the wilderness.
Piquette, however, rejects all overtures. She silently helps Mrs. MacLeod with the housework, but she will not play and cannot walk or swim far. Most significantly, she will not go to the lake at night to listen to the loons calling mysteriously across the dark water. Vanessa and her father sit by the lake while Piquette remains indoors. The following winter, the doctor dies of pneumonia and Vanessa...
(The entire section is 478 words.)