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In the story, Half Broke Horses, the author, Jeannette narrates the story of Lily Casey, her grandmother, from Lily's point of view. Hence, Lily is the main character in the novel, and the plot of the story primarily revolves around her. Lily was brought up in two different ranches, the first in Texas after which her family relocates to a bigger ranch in New Mexico. Being a rancher's daughter, Lily learned how to break horses by the age of six as she helped her father. Both locations were very challenging, and Lily's life largely reflects the hardships encountered. For example, her father was partially disabled while her mother barely worked and hence, from an early age, Lily learned to assume adult-like responsibilities. By the time, Lily was a teenager she had already taken up tutoring roles where she taught in one-room schoolhouses in remote locations to help support her family. Despite her challenging circumstances, Lily learned how to be self-reliant and to be a survivor who does not give up no matter how difficult life became. Upon her relocation to Chicago, Lily got married only to realize that her husband had another family. Despite the failure in her marriage, Lily landed more jobs for which she had not trained. As a woman of multiple talents, Lily earned a living through different means like playing poker, participating in horse races and even selling liquor. Additionally, Lily strives to fight any existing injustices and prejudices although it lands her into problems some of the times. Overall, Lily is depicted as a strong, spirited and resourceful character who is not afraid to work hard and attain the impossible. Later in the novel, Lily owns and runs a cattle ranch in Arizona together with her husband, with whom they get two children. The novel Half Broke Horses, therefore, succeeds in depicting the freedom that comes with the rural life, its struggles as well as the strength of the women of the West as evidenced by Lily. One of the key characters in the novel is Lily's dad, Adam Casey, who is depicted as a hardworking, determined, smart, wise, realistic and meritocratic but with a quick temper and an aversion for technical and social progress yet he still strives to make the right decisions and to a large extent influences her daughter, Lily, to be successful in life.
Adam Casey is a hard-working and determined man who strives to provide for his family, despite all the negative experiences he encounters. Casey's father was a cavalryman as well as a cattle dealer who lived in the Hondo Valley of Texas and hence Adam Casey was introduced to the ranch life from his childhood. However, Casey's youth is made difficult by accidents and negative experiences, where at just the age of three he gets kicked in the head by a horse and is forced to live with paralysis on one half of his body which makes him speak unintelligibly. Even worse, Casey's father dies when he is only 14 years following a gunshot in Lincoln, New Mexico. Subsequently, at the age of 34 years, Casey gets arrested and imprisoned following a murder that occurs in the Hondo Valley. Nevertheless, he is released after three years, after his innocence is proven. Upon his release from prison, Casey meets with his future wife, Daisy, with whom they have three kids. Casey and his family relocated from the Hondo Valley to High Lonesome in Texas, where he manages a ranch. However, Casey strives with hearing problems owing to his working at the malt-mill throughout his childhood where he helped his parents. Despite all the negative experiences that Casey goes through, he remains determined to provide for his family at the ranch.
Casey is a realistic and meritocratic person who believes in his theory of purpose. Throughout the novel, Casey maintains his theory that everything in life happens for a specific reason and purpose and that failing to achieve this purpose is a waste of time. Casey's theory of purpose if evidenced in his strict parenting techniques, where he does not allow his children to play as he considers playing a mere waste of time. Such could be the reason that Casey takes Lily out of school, as he is convinced that her purpose is to assist in the ranch. However, despite being realistic, Casey is not open-minded, as evidenced when he tells Lily that is she cannot stop a horse she should sell it, and if she cannot sell it, she should shoot it. Such is proof of his meritocratic ways, where he thinks that animals are only useful when they are performing in business. Furthermore, Casey's meritocratic and realistic thoughts are evidenced in his belief in God where he notes that "God gives us all different hands. How we play with them is up to us" (Walls 29). The statement illustrates that although Casey is realistic and tough, he considers setbacks as motivations to do better as echoed in his other statement "The most important thing in life is learning how to fall" (Walls 23). Therefore, Casey is very independent, realistic and meritocratic in his thoughts where he handles life experiences with practicality.
In addition, Casey is a very wise man as evidenced in his decisions and actions which pose an overall positive effect for his family. For example, although he forces Lily to drop out of school, the experience teaches Lily that setbacks should serve as motivations for bigger goals and in the end, she succeeds in her career and family life. Although Casey is sometimes seen as having dubious decisions and deeds, he serves as a strong role model for Lily as a result of his persistence and defiance. He strives to teach his children the important things in life and holds the belief that everything in life has a purpose and thus should not be altered by technical or social progress.
Nevertheless, Casey has a terrible temper which is heightened by his dislike for technical and social progress and his preoccupation for making quick money. Alcohol is one of the things that Casey hates most, where he states that "alcohol made Indians and Irishmen crazy and that the strongest drink allowed in the ranch is tea" (Walls 23). Lily describes his father as having a terrible temper where he quickly loses his mind especially on issues he does not agree with. Casey's temper is made worse by the people who did not take him seriously as a result of his speech impediment. However, Lily notes that Casey is a generally smart person as evidenced in his love for reading books and in his long letters in which he writes on different political issues. Lily notes that in his letters Casey narrates of his dislike for industrialization and mechanization which he feels that they constantly destroy humans "Two of Dad's biggest concerns in his letters were industrialization and mechanization which he felt were destroying the human soul" (Walls 23). Casey's dislike for technical and social progress is evidenced when he takes Lily out of school in Santa Fe and spends the money on breading Great Danes which he believes will make him more money by selling the dogs. By taking Lily out of school, Casey believes that she will help more in the ranch while Lily's brother continues schooling. Besides, Casey's aversion for social and technical progress is evidenced in his wish to get buried at the KC Ranch since he wants to remain connected to his roots and to avoid the development around him.
Overall, the novel Half Broke Horses, brings out Adam Casey as a character who is hardworking, determined, smart, wise, realistic and meritocratic but with a quick temper and an aversion for technical and social progress yet he still strives to make the right decisions and to a large extent influences her daughter to be successful. Casey remains as a wise practical and meritocratic character who seeks to teach his children the important things in life. Although he is not open to technical and social progress, he still manages to serve as a perfect role model for his children, who draw on his motivation and on his theory on learning from negative experiences. Casey stands out because he likes as little government and technical interference as possible, and in spite of his speed impediment and his paralysis, he is still largely self-reliant. Therefore, considering all of Casey's character traits, he could be regarded as a good influencer, whose life is based on independence and self-reliance.
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses (B2): A True-Life Novel. Englische Lektüre Ab Dem 6. Lernjahr. Ernst Klett Sprachen, 2013.
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