The Stallion

Summary The Stallion

The chapter centers on three dramatic incidents driven by honor, illustrating the importance of honorable conduct to southern society. First, the Waverly boys must give the Appaloosa to Paul because he won the bet they made with him. Even Mr. Waverly agrees—he posits that since the boys entered into an agreement, Paul deserves the horse. Secondly, George reacts violently when one of the Waverly boys calls Paul a "white nigger," and Hammond explains their code of honor: Paul is family, and what is said of him is said of their entire family. In the third honor-driven incident, Paul stands up for Mitchell much as his brothers stood up for him. To some extent, Paul's sacrifice is Christ-like: he stands in for Mitchell and bears his punishment instead of him, even though Paul's father knows that Mitchell was riding the horse when the injury occurred. At the same time, Paul's decision is a bit more ambiguous than this. He feels guilty for having offered the horse to Mitchell in the first place, he wants to win Mitchell's respect and friendship, and he knows that the punishment Mitchell would receive is perhaps harsher than his own—especially if Willie's job is threatened. Paul, who clearly understands his role in Mitchell's predicament, refuses the less honorable, but more attractive course of action, in which he allows Mitchell to be punished. After all, Mitchell, in a literal sense was responsible for the horse's injury. Paul's family and, to a lesser extent, his entire society, is motivated by this sense of honor—a person must keep spoken promises and bear the consequences of his or her statements, be they true or not.

Taylor characterizes Paul's father—through his words, actions, and interactions with Paul—as a somewhat distant but fair and honorable man. When Ghost Wind is wounded, he approaches the terrified Willie calmly, trying deliberately and carefully to get to the bottom of the problem. He metes out Paul's punishment just as serenely, letting the consequences of Paul's decision, rather than anger or a beating, serve as his punishment. At the same time, Paul refers to him respectfully as sir or Mister Edward, and his father's decision to ride his five finest horses to the Waverly's is both shrewd and proud. Mister Edward comes across as trustworthy but also worthy of fear and awe. His sense of justice is true but unbending.