The Horse Dealer’s Daughter


D.H. Lawrance’s short story “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” is about a depressed young woman who attempts to commit suicide but unexpectedly falls in love. I believe that Mabel Pervin is driven to commit suicide because of the years of verbal abuse and neglect done to her by her siblings. Also Mabel is ashamed of her poverty and no longer wants to face the townspeople, and Mabel also wishes to be glorified like her mother was in her death. As a result her subconscious caused her to walk right into her demise.


Mabel’s relationship with her brothers is an abusive one, her sister is married and does not live near them and she doesn\'t visit. Her sister shows concern by offering Mabel a room in her home for as long as she likes but Mabel refuses. Her brothers give the impression that they are annoyed by Mabel’s very presence, Lawrance confirms this by describing Fred Henry’s behavior “He pushed his coarse brown mustache upwards, off his lip, and glanced irritably at his sister, who sat impassive and inscrutable” (587). Her brothers do not acknowledge her yet alone have a decent conversation. They treat her like a servant never saying thank you or even showing any kind of gratitude. “They had talked at her and round her for so many years, that she hardly heard them at all” (587). She in turn decided to ignore them by not answering there questions. But when they did speak to her it was in a cruel manner, they also made light of her depression ‘”The sulkiest bitch that ever trod”’ (589) Fred Henry exclaimed. Therefore she no longer wanted to subject herself to their scrutiny “Why should she answer to anybody?”(590).


“The stables had been full of horses… the kitchen was full of servants” (590) gives the indication that Mabel was raised in privilege. But now, as Lawrence points out, she is now without servants and has to buy “the cheapest food” (590). Even thought everything else in her life was bad, “as long as there was money, the girl felt herself established, and brutally proud” (590) but now there was no more money, “everything was gone to the dogs; there was nothing but debt” (590). The final blow was that the morning of her attempted suicide she had gotten the news that she is now bankrupt. Mabel is now left with nothing and nowhere to live.


Mabel was a young girl when she lost her mother and was not mature enough to let go and move on as the rest of her family did. Therefore Mabel continued a relationship with her mother even after her mothers death by visiting her grave often and performing ritualistic tasks "clipped the grass from the grave, and arranged the pinky white chrysanthemums ... and carefully, most scrupulously sponged the marble headstone and the coping-stone” as Lawrance explains (590). "She felt immediate contact with the world of her mother"(590) by doing these things. Because the graveyard was on top of a hill Mabel felt as though no one could see her “she felt immune to the world"(590). Mabel believes that by killing herself she will "be coming nearer to her fulfillment, her own glorification "(590)


To conclude I believe Mabel Pervine decided to attempt suicide because she was tired of the way she was treated by her brothers, she felt shame from being poor, and above all the only place where she felt happy and secure was in the graveyard near her mother.



Works Cited


Lawrence, D.H. . The Horse Dealer’s Daughter. The Bedford Introduction to Literature:


Reading, Thinking, and Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. New York:


St. Martin’s Press, 1999. 1795-1860.