Interpertive Essay on “High Horses Courting” By Black Elk

The story of the High Horse’s Courting is portrayed as a great example of one of the narratives of Black Elk. The narratives depict lessons that the readers can learn from the era and the setting of the story. It is shown how things were done in the past and displays the ways of the American Indians in their time such as how to get the girl of your dreams.
At the onset of the story, Black Elk narrates the story and shows admiration to the young boy’s bravery, the High Horse. He uses different scenarios in the story for the reader to be able to relate to his thoughts, or maybe to his story. He even agrees that if he were in the same situation, he would’ve done the same thing; “I have to be a very sneaky fellow to talk to her at all, and after I have managed to talk to her, that is only the beginning.” (Black, Elk, and John G. Neihardt, 1988, p 52)

The story shows how tough it is to marry a girl you like in that era. You would have to be somebody in order for the parents to entrust their daughter to you or at least you would have to offer a good amount of wealth, normally livestock or horses, as an excellent bargain in order to get their daughter. Although it may sound a little too much similar to paying someone for a wife, it was still a little different from the way it used to be.
For quite some time, offering hard labor or wealth to your girl’s parents was the norm until such time it waned away. Even in some parts of the globe like Asia, specifically the Philippines, considering the difference of the Americas to its geographically, they used to have the same ways.

Dowry, enormous gold, silver, bronze or anything valuable, used to be offered to the parents of the girl a man desires. (Taylor, J G., 1971, p 24) This explains that it used to be the ways of our ancestors, one way or the other, regardless of culture. At some point in history, things were done differently.

The High Horse is used as a symbol of a person who has high regard for himself, never quits and with great aspirations. Although he knows that he may be a little off to go for the girl he desires, he still goes on for her and tries to do anything possible in order to get her hand. “But the old man just waved his hand, meaning for High Horse to go away and quit talking foolishness like that.” (Black, Elk, and John G. Neihardt, 1988, p 53) This shows the perseverance of the High Horse, the young boy, who will not give up and will do anything until he reaches his dream.
At the middle part of the story towards its end, a red deer, who appears to be High Horse’s cousin, happens to join High Horse in his fight on getting the hand of the girl he desires. Encouraging High Horse to make a plan to get his girl, he acts as a support to his cousin whenever he makes a failed attempt by supplying vibrant energy in the story. The character of the red deer can also be a symbol of energy due to the origins of the term and how a red deer acts in the food chain. A red deer used to be a source of food in the medieval ages. Food is synonymous with energy, which is the main role of High Horse’s cousin, the red deer.

At the end of the story, after all the failed attempts of the two to steal the girl from her parents, although it appears to be accidental, they succeed in winning the girl by acquiring a number of horses from a tribe. This ending serves as an answer to the question that may have been running in the minds of the readers, “Is being poor equivalent to not getting a wife?” At the time the High Horse is able to give more than enough horses to the parents of the girl he’s been meaning to marry, it is explained at the end of the story that the father is just looking for someone who deserves his daughter. “The old man did not wave him away at that time. It was not the horses that he wanted. What he wanted was a son who was a real man and good for something.” (Black, Elk, and John G. Neihardt, 1988, p 58)


Works Cited
Taylor, J G. The Literature of the American West. p. 17-41. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Black, Elk, and John G. Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the
Oglala Sioux. Chapter 6, p. 52-58. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988. Print.
Taylor, J G. The Literature of the American West. In English Composition II, FCCJ Handbook.
Black, Elk, and John G. Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the
Oglala Sioux. In English Composition II, FCCJ Handbook. Chapter 6 p. 52-58)

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