A Second Look at A Man Called Horse No matter what circumstances we are born into we all search for meaning and purpose in our lives. Sometimes, even people who are born into privileged circumstances and seem to have it all, still feel they need to search for an identity. They may not know what they are really searching for, but they feel a need to know who they are. I think this was the case with the man called Horse. This was also the case with his captor, his owner, and his wife.
We could compare the young white man, Horse, in this story to teenagers today. They have all the things their parents give them and often they are still not content. They test the value system they have grown up with. They often go against their parents and grandparents wishes. They put life to the test and usually come to realize what is of most value to them eventually.
The young man set out on what would be a journey of self discovery. He had a lot of pride in his heart. He had the idea that in Indian country, where there was danger, all white men were kings, and he wanted to be one of them. But he was knocked down the first notch when he discovered out there that some men could still be his superiors even when they couldn t read like he did. These men still had the necessary skills to be good at what they needed to be good at in the circumstances they lived in. Then the young man supposed that he could buy with money the kind of men he wanted to associate with but that didn t work out either.
He found them not friendly. They were apart from him and he was still alone. He was still not satisfied. I think people often try to buy or impress the people they want for friends with money or the fancy things money can buy. People who are impressed by those things alone don t usually end up being real friends. The young man was captured by an Indian at a time when he was totally vulnerable, naked and stripped of everything that was of value to him.
He was forced to be humble. He was even grateful for the dead man's moccasins. He decide that he would pretend to be a horse so that he could survive, so that he would not use his human emotions which would likely get him into trouble or killed. But he is still had some pride and thought that he was better than the others when he thought of how he would tell the people back home of his hideous adventure and thought of himself as a hero.
He was judging the Crows and their ways. We could compare Horse with Yellow Robe. Yellow Robe, the story says, lived like a lord and he was full of pride. The white man was so far beneath him in status that the Indian did not even think of envy.
This was much the same as the state the young white man before he started out on his adventure. However, when Yellow Robe's wife is stolen which forces him to be humble, his reaction is one of self pity. Instead of being humble like a horse he chooses to take dangerous risks. This eventually leads him to his death.
The young man, on the other hand, takes every opportunity to better his position, realizing that a future was something to be earned. Eventually, as he begins to understand the Crows language and begins to join in their ways, he accepts them more and they begin to accept him. He has to earn some status, prove his worth. I think this is what he had been missing in his life all along.
He had grown up with status and didn t have to prove anything. Now he had to earn his future. Killing the enemy and capturing the horses was one of the first steps to earning this future. Just as the lives of the people in Boston were the way they had always been, the lives of the Crows were the way they had always been. He had been given everything when he was at home but here he had to make his own future.
As he accepts the ways of the Crows for what they are, he begins to understand them. He goes through a transformation in his values and is not as concerned about what used to be so important to him such as escaping. His thoughts previously had always been of getting away but each time as he came to understand their ways and feelings he wanted less to get away and was less likely to criticize the things they did. Although Horse is upset when the women sacrifice all their belongings in their grieving, he feels obligated to stay and help them.
He never felt any obligations before in his life. He has a sense of purpose now that he has earned his future. The people who had stripped him of all pride were stripped of their pride as well. They were people trying to make their way in their own circumstances just as he was trying to make his way. They were trying to understand their purpose in life and deal with what it gave them. Through his experience with the Crows he became humble and realized the he was a man on life's journey just each of us are.
He looked for the girl, his wife Freedom, to set him free, and she did, but in a very different way than he thought she would. He was using her for his own purposes but he became attached which gave him meaning and purpose in his life which gave him freedom because he found himself.