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Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel Summary & Study Guide

Jeannette Walls
This Study Guide consists of approximately 28 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Half Broke Horses.
This section contains 544 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls.

"Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls is a work of fiction touted as being a "true life novel." The main setting of "Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls is located in western Texas. The Casey family lived on High Lonesome, a ranch in the heart of a difficult land. Lily describes the property: "When you looked out across the land, most everything you could see - the horizon, the river, the fence lines, the gullies, the scrub cedar - was spread out and flat, and the people, cattle, horses, lizards, and water all moved slowly, conserving themselves." (Part 1, p. 6).

The Caseys own 160 acres in west Texas, land used to raise carriage horses. The land was also known as the Salt Draw, resting alongside the Pecos River. The land was dry and hard. The region had its share of tornados and flash floods. The latter is recounted in Part 1 when Lily talks about the flash flood that nearly claimed the lives of the animals, Buster, Helen, and herself.

Lily Casey Smith was the main character in the story. Born in 1901 on Salt Draw, Lily quickly became her father's right hand when it came to training horses and dealing with the public. Adam Casey had also been kicked in the head by a horse at age three which left him with a speech impediment. People often mocked him for his slurred speech. Therefore, his speech in public was severely limited. It was up to Lily to be her father's voice.

From a young age, Lily was the kind of person who took charge. She took care of her siblings, broke horses, trained horses, and did every farm chore that needed to be done. There was nothing that Lily Casey couldn't do.

Lily would earn a position as a teacher without proper certification, move to Chicago, get married to a bigamist and promptly leave him, learn to drive a car, fly an airplane, and create an interesting and fulfilling life on her own ranch.

Lily's life was filled with turbulence often turned into opportunities. She landed several teaching jobs before she was certified. Lily also had run-ins with many different people - some of whom were trying to assert their manliness while others do not understand or appreciate Lily's outspoken ways. Lily got fired often.

After Lily's younger sister died by her own hand, Lily decided to get married and have a family of her own. She married Big Jim Smith, a mechanic almost 20 years her senior. The Smiths had a good marriage and producee two children, Rosemary and Little Jim. Both kids were a bit wild but Rosemary vexed her mother on a daily basis. Rosemary got thrown out of school, refused to learn or accept punishment or discipline, and was determined to do whatever she pleases despite protestations and consequences.

Throughout it all, the Smith family remained strong, withstanding drought, floods, and blizzards. They went through good times and financial ruin. In the end, Lily and Jim stayed together and lived their lives without compromises.

It was Lily Casey Smith's amazing life that caused her granddaughter, Jeannette Walls to forgo her original plans of writing a novel about her mother and to focus instead upon on her grandmother, a true pioneer.

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This section contains 544 words
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