This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
Out Stealing Horses is a coming of age story that follows a man named Trond. A great amount of imagery is found in this novel, allowing the story to be put together in the perfect way. Imagery, used to place a reader into an experience through the usage of words, allows the reader to create their own picture in their mind. The use of imagery allows the reader to experience what is described using all five senses such as sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. This brings out five different types of imagery such as visual imagery, olfactory imagery, tactile imagery and gustatory imagery. Trond, the main character of the novel, looks back at his life and the summer that had changed him. To understand the story, the historical background must be understood. The second world war had just ended, it was a brutal war and brought a lot of damage to Norway. Elements of the war are found in the novel such as how Tronds father was a member of the underground during the Nazi occupation, this was however, hidden from Trond. The situation in Norway might not have been very stable yet, even after the war. Trond was a man who had experienced the second world war first handedly, this perhaps may give us a better understanding to the experiences he must have had and his personality. Living in rural Norway, he was always very much involved with his surroundings and because of this, great description of it is found, especially of water, which is the main focus of the essay. A great amount of water imagery is used. Recurring images of lakes, rivers and rain can be observed. Water bodies are part of the environment in which he had been around as a child. He is very familiar to them and this is shown by different statements such as, "And even if it's not possible to recognize water from the way it flows, that was precisely what I did" and "I heard the river before I could see it".(pg 214) They often represent important aspects of the novel, bringing out the mood of the setting, highlighting themes and personalities of characters. Water is a general representation of a variety of different things such as reflection, purity, life and fertility. Its importance in the novel is immediately shown in the beginning, there is infact a description of it in the first page itself. It is also is found to often represent turning points. In the novel, the reader might find that the different type of water forms have different meanings; this is an effect of the imagery used.
The novel, set in rural Norway, contains very detailed descriptions of nature in the loneliest of Trond's surroundings. He is a very quiet and introspective person and this suits the quiet surroundings of him. The reader, also is placed in this, therefore showing the strength of the imagery used. The great use of water imagery adds to the nostalgic and reflective mood of the novel. There are plenty of moments where being around water bodies lead to him being more thoughtful. A quote from the novel is "So there is somewhere to sit and watch life at the mouth, see if the fish are jumping and the ducks and the swansâ€¦" (pg98) and, "with the water surging against my boots, and everything else was so big and quiet around me, but I did not feel abandoned, I felt singled out. I was perfectly calm.." (pg 100). This shows the effect being around water has on him. During the retirement time in Tronds life, he had reflected upon his life by sitting in front of Swan Lake. This is another body of water presented in the book. He had said, "But now it is still dark, and I can sit here by Swan Lake thinking about whatever I choose." (pg 188) This brings out the personality of Trond, especially his reflective nature. It can be compared to water itself, which also has the ability to reflect. The lake, being a relatively serene body of water represents peace, this bringing out the theme of solitude present in the novel. This may also show Tronds search for inner peace, especially since he is already of old age. This shows water as a symbol for reflection because he tries to understand himself better. Trond uses detailed observations and flashbacks, showing the importance the past had played to making him the man he is.
It also seems to be more than just an element in the setting. It contributes to characterization, showing Trond's personality and feelings are shown through his perspectives and actions rather than directly saying them. When Trond is happy, water elements are seen in a good light with it being calm. For example, he says "there was hardly a shadow in the valley, the river, sparkling, wound its way along, and we could hear it..".(pg 58) When Trond is upset, he even relates himself and water, for example "I felt the forest floor sway beneath my feet. It was like standing on water,.." (Page 31)The setting compliments the characters. The reader finds it representing a lot of Tronds childhood because it is constantly part of his environment. One of the main events in Tronds life happened when he and Jon would "steal horses". After Jons sudden breakdown, the weather seemed to immediately change to one of heavy rain. "and then the rain came at me like a wall.." page 32
The water imagery used in the setting also brings out the themes in the novel. The themes include family, life and death, and solitude. Trond's father played a very significant role in his life. They seem to have a very special relationship, Trond adoring him and wanting his approval. This brings out the theme of family. Various water bodies bring out different feelings and memories. For example, when Trond found out the truth about his dad, he did not know what to think and states that "the river was the same, yet somehow altered, and that too was how my father seemed to me" (pg 164). The theme of family can also be related to how Trond was with his family, he too, like his father, left his children without giving them any idea where he was. Perhaps, his father and him are essentially very similar.
The river is also a symbol of a barrier, it has the ability to obstruct two places. In one instance, Trond sees his dad kissing Jon's mother. He did not seem to know what to think about it and had felt his "head almost bursting with emptiness". It may show how Trond did not completely know his father, which is especially true with how he did not know the truth in what his fathers' occupation was. He states "the river was the same, yet somehow altered, and that too, was how my father seemed to me when I thought of the stories Franz had told me about himâ€¦"
The theme of Life and death is also an important theme. This may be shown by the incident where Jon accidentally shot Odd. Trond had never experienced dealing with an incident of that sort and he learns and gathers his own thoughts about it, growing up. That summer may be the summer he grew into a man. As said previously, water may symbolize a lot of things, positive aspects and negative aspects and may go according to the water body. . Life is brought out by how it can be used to show how Trond learned the importance and need to move on and accept the past. The river will always flow, just as how time and life always goes on as well- regardless of circumstances.
The imagery he uses foreshadows the events that follow up. For example, in chapter two of the book, during his outing with Jon, before the strange events that follow, he states "I ought to have understood there was something special about that July morning, something to do with fog on the river andâ€¦", His different perspectives are also shown through water imagery. Quite often, his emotions are reflected through the descriptions. Evidence of this is by how Trond describes the river when he is nervous and upset. One example of this could be during the night of that summer when he had noticed that his father was not in bed. During this night it had also been raining, symbolizing the frustration, confusion and the turn of events that were going to come. The line is "The water flowed more swiftly now after the drenching rain, running higher up the boulders along the banks, and it swelled upâ€¦.the river running was the only sound I heard." This can also be connected to the theme of family, ***
The main type of imagery used in the book is auditory and visual. Auditory imagery is used to appeal to the sense of sound while visual imagery appeals to what is seen. An example of a combination of auditory and visual imagery used is, "Behind him, the river rushed down the rapids, its tone unchanging as far as he could tell..and even if it's not possible to recognize the water from the way it flows". The use of both of these forms of imagery brings out a greater effect to the reader, enhancing the picture in his/her mind and allowing the reader to get a fuller picture of the setting.
The novel also holds a variety of different imagery contributing towards the events and feelings Trond went through. This ranges from imagery describing the sun, trees, sky and overall, the whole surrounding. Per Petterson describes these using detailed explanations of auditory, olfactory, tactile and gustatory imagery. Feelings are shown through the imagery he uses. For example, the auditory imagery he uses when he went out stealing horses, the anxious and excited tone, is brought out through the following line, "the vibration in the tree grew stronger and the sound of the hooves filled my head". Another example to prove this is that when he gets nervous and scared, he describes the sound to be very disturbing. This is shown in the instance when he got injured when he was out with Jon. The auditory imagery used is "I heard a whinny and the thundering sound of hooves and it all came back like a whirring boomerang".
The book revolves around a great use of imagery that stimulate the senses of the reader and allows the reader to end the book feeling like he/she may have already known Trond for all their life. Overall, a precise picture is put up for the readers with a combination of different forms of imagery which bring out emotional sentiments in the readers.