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Analysis on Defamiliarization Existent of Leo Tolstoy’s Kholstomer

The Story of a Horse

By: Paul T. Jimenez


The life itself is a discipline in which lies the foundation of every existing idea
in the society. It can never fully understand since it’s far beyond the capacity of
the mind. Perception of it may vary from one another but one sure thing about
life is, its laws and principles apply to all.

Here in the story it depicts life in the perspective of the horse which is finding
happiness and the hindrances that is incorporated to it, as Aritstotle said
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life“.

The setting of the story takes places in a barn where horses in different ages
are kept and taken care and it represents the society in which they function. One
particular horse is the old piebald gelding which is a very different kind of horse.
The piebald means castrated in which in this story depicts the power of men as
portrayed by the horse and by which the horse did not get since he didn’t have
the “thing” which signifies its masculinity that is why throughout the story this
physical deformity caused him much trouble.

As the story says, it clearly shows that men must be powerful and there is a
standard to achieve it in which the society and the people itself set the standards.
The standards therefore set an organized flow of the society evading chaos.
Though this standards were harmful and helpful it kept the "relative" balance of
power and everything.

The invalidity of the horse became a thing for everyone since they are
particular in breeding pure species of horse, it can be implied that it signifies the
royal family in which the "royal blood" must not be contaminated by a "common
blood". In this way they can maintain the power and honor with respect to the
horse also. The horses were enslaved by the things that the owner or human
imposes to them as men is viewed as the society. This tradition of a family holding
power can be seen until the present time. As the place Russia is a communist
The horses were taken out of the barn to roam the fields every morning
which represents that in the society people are free to go venture out thinking
they are really free but at the end of the day they don’t know that they are
enslaved that is why they go home or kept before the night rises, just like how
people go to work to earn a living and also the grass serves as the food which is
readily available leaving all of them blinded on things that men do to them.

In the field young horses and old horses do different things, the young horses
have the energy to venture out freely while the old ones prefer to eat in group.
This shows that at an early age people have the time to do things that is often for
them what will make them happy but as soon as they grow old they will see the
reality. In addition, the combination of the young and old horse shows the
importance of time in our life. They both states that as young there is plenty of
time while if gotten old time is limited. "Old age is sometimes majestic, sometimes
ugly and sometimes pathetic. The line "But old age can be both ugly and
majestic, and the gelding's old age was just of that kind", this line represents that
being old is either good or bad in the sense that being old means respect and
also weakness in physical aspect.

The piebald horse was the center of tease of the young filly and coals
because of its appearance, “His forelegs were crooked to bow at the knees, they
were swellings over both hoofs....” it clearly shows the cruelty of the society to a
certain individuals because of their physical appearance. Aside from that is also
shows how old individuals are taken care of, situated in the line “At this the gelding
blew himself out, but a finger was thrust into his mouth and knee hit him in the
stomach, so that he had to let out his breath”.

The marks in the body of the horse, “He had three spots, one on his head,
starting from a crooked bald patch on the side of his nose and reaching half-way
down his neck ….” represents the burden or struggles that a person will get in its
entire existence in the world and also the experiences. Aside from that detailed
markings in other horses or characters were well presented. It clearly implies the
comparison of one another and to show the dominance of one from another.

“The colts and yearling fillies, pretending to be grownup and sedate, rarely
jumped or joined the merry company. They grazed in a dignified manner, curving
their close-cropped swan-like necks, and flourished their little broom-like tails as if
they also had long ones. Just like the grown-ups they lay down, rolled over, or
rubbed one another. The merriest group was composed of the two- and three-
year-old fillies and mares not yet in foal. They almost always walked about
together like a separate merry virgin crowd” here it represent the teenagers who
are eager to grow but were not ready and foolishly thinks that it would be easy
for them to be an adult. It also depicts that females are inferior to men since the
female should make a move to have a relationship, it can also be seen in the
scene where the mischievous one is neighing hoping to be heard and to have a

The piebald horse represents the life of Serpukhovskoy which was at first
wealthy and a well-known but later become a common individual. In the story he
fell deeply in love with Mathieu, as stated in the conversation of Serpukhovskoy
with fellow rich individuals, "And have you given up Mathieu?", this seen can be
correlated to the one which is the, “The most beautiful and spirited of them was
the mischievous chestnut filly. Then she set out to turn the head of a little roan
horse with which a peasant was ploughing in a rye-field far beyond the river. She
stopped, proudly lifted her head somewhat to one side, shook herself, and
neighed in a sweet, tender, long-drawn voice. Mischief, feeling, and a certain
sadness were expressed in that call. There was in it the desire for and the promise
of love, and a pining for it.” This clearly implies that love on the roan and of
Serpukhovskoy are the same but in a different perspective, just like as what is
stated, the principles of life apply to all but its approach is different.

Furthermore from that the story highlighted the roles of the mother in
guiding their child, here it shows that the mischievous one was doing things that
are different from the things that the other filly of her age do. It implies that the
mother lacks the affection and love that’s why the young filly longed for it and its
way of expression is to find a lover even though at a young age, "but it has not
yet been allowed me to know the sweetness of that feeling, and not only to
experience it, but no lover - not a single one - has ever seen me!". This scene can
also be seen on how the piebald's mother change attitude.

In addition to that the mentioning of the word of the peasant shows that
there is a certain division of class or social status just like how the society works. Sir
of Serpukhovskoy or Nester represents the superiority while Vaska and peasant
represents marginalized group. The things that a certain individual have
determine its placed in the society, like how unfortunately the piebald horse, he
is treated poorly because of the spots and his overall appearance as stated in
the lines of, "And what devil does he take after - he's just like a peasant-horse!" he
continued. "He can't be left in the stud - he'd shame us”. There are also scenes
which depicts this kind of classification of wealth or status as stated in the section
of The Evening After.

There are many norms presented in this story which is the same as how the
society is. In one of the paragraphs in the story, “One might think not, but in equine
ethics it was, and only those were right who were strong, young, and happy -
those who had life still before them, whose every muscle quivered with superfluous
energy, and whose tails stood erect.” Here the story highlighted the survival of the
fittest whereas strong individuals are chosen because they are more productive
in work while the older ones are forgotten and all off their works are thrown away.
Exploitation is also rampant in the story, just like how horses are used to provide
entertainment to the royalties.

“My mottled appearance, which men so disliked, was very attractive to all
the horses; they all came round me, admired me, and frisked about with me”
implies that since the piebald perceive as low bred or type of horse it appearance
is admired by other horses which shows that perception varies from one another,
which society has a big factor to it.

“My being piebald, which aroused such curious contempt in men, my

terrible and unexpected misfortune, and also my peculiar position in the stud farm
which I felt but was unable to explain made me retire into myself. I pondered over
the injustice of men, who blamed me for being piebald; I pondered on the
inconstancy of mother-love and feminine love in general and on its dependence
on physical conditions:” Here in this statement it states the biased form of justice
that he saw from men which due to his invalidity made him think that men have
no sense of empathy towards another race. Aside from that men always look for
inconsistencies to justify their doings in life just like how his mother is separated from
him and also his exclusion from the other group of horses.

Furthermore “and above all I pondered on the characteristics of that

strange race of animals with whom we are so closely connected, and whom we
call men - those characteristics which were the source of my own peculiar
position in the stud farm, which I felt but could not understand” which he
misunderstood the way the stud treats him that’s why he said that the race of
men were inferior to them since they just follow orders from higher authority even
though they have the ability to comprehend.

Religion plays a vital role in the society that’s why in this story it is used as
the standard, for example, "Given it, or sold it - the devil only knows! The count's
horses might all starve - he wouldn't care - but just dare to leave *his* colt without
food! 'Lie down!' he says, and they begin walloping me! No Christianity in it’, he
states they too much follow and scared to the higher authorities. He pondered
that the men are hypocrites since they have their own religion which is Christianity
yet they were more unedcucated and not disciplined well enough.

In addition, this lines, He has more pity on a beast than on a man. He must
be an infidel - he counted the strokes himself, the barbarian! The general never
flogged like that! My whole back is covered with wheals. There's no Christian soul
in him!" he finally conclude that men are barbarians because the way men
handle their pets are brutal just like how people were.

The piebald was also confused on how men handle to that he seems as
possessions. For him having a possession means taking care of it while for men
they use words to convey their possession but since the horse focuses on actions
he think men are fool however for men they use words since action is not enough.
This clearly shows the effect of different language. The actions received by the
horse make him think that possession is through action, this is mainly due to the
fact that he is the favored horse of the general as stated in the lines, “Only much
later when they separated me from the other horses did I learn what it meant. At
that time I could not at all understand what they meant by speaking of *me* as
being a man's property. The words "my horse" applied to me, a live horse, seemed
to me as strange as to say "my land," "my air," or "my water." Therefore made him
think that there race is far superior which he pertains to the hierarchy of species
where men are on the top of the food chain. He pondered that men are guided
by the words not by the deeds. Because of the cruelty that he had endured
overtime it is easy to say for him that men are far more barbarian.

In the story the word three always pop up which indicate the holy trinity or the
divine 3. The word 3 always shows in the scenes where 3 character things or
objects are being tackled about.
The story also tackles the doctrine that the religion particularly the Christian
is being acted by its followers. One it is the use of popular individuals to convey
something, for example St. Nicholas wonder worker which is well known for its act
of giving and gaining the title of Santa Claus. Here in the story it shows the battle
between the good and the evil because of the thing that happen to piebald
when he is being transferred from one owner to another. Other people also
depicts something like Feofan who is a Russian archbishop and also Tikhon an old
Russian saint.

Later at the end of the story, piebald was sliced in the throat that caused his
death. The death represents freedom from all of the problems of the world, "The
whole burden of his life was erased". He did not get recognition for all of the things
that he have done, at the end of the day his skull and shoulder blade were put
into use, maybe as decorations.

Overall the story showed how once appearance may affect the treatment
to a certain individual. It tackles mainly on the different social issues which life is
incorporated. Aside from that the materialism is present in the story since it convey
in many scenes that having more possession means more power, also wealthy
people are always praised and they give orders to low status people, by which
means portray the injustice in the economic status. In the end the differences or
impurities makes us unique in every way.

Life is always the same to all other creatures. It’s relative to one another of
race. Religion plays a vital factor in which how a certain individual creates a
meaning on life itself. For the horses as per stated, it’s relative in a sense that what
laws or principles is also applied to them like social status. But in the end the
meaning of life lies on the way it will be perceived and lived by others.