Act One Scene Ten

Synopsis of Scene 10

Alan explains to Dysart when and where he first saw a horse, acting out the scene of this encounter as he speaks. This encounter took place on a beach when he was about six years old, and the man on the horse let Alan ride with him. Dora and Frank made him get off the horse, however, saying that he could have been hurt. The six year old Alan clearly resented this interruption of his enjoyment. The horseman rode away, covering Frank and Dora with water and sand, to Alan’s amusement.

Alan explains that since then, he’s never been on a horse. He asks Dysart to tell him a secret, and Dysart tells him that when a patient is reluctant to talk about something, perhaps through embarrassment, he gives them a tape-recorder so they can talk in private. Alan says that this is stupid, but he takes the tape-recorder away with him when he leaves the stage.

Commentary on Scene 10

college chap: I.e. someone who had been to university, which, in pre-war Britain, was largely only accessible to those with money. It is clear that the Horseman is of a higher social class than the Strangs, and that some of Frank Strang’s resentment towards him is class-based. 

Trojan horseTrojan: The horse is named Trojan, after the people of Troy, who were written about by Homer in his epic The Iliad, about the Trojan Wars. Trojans were renowned for their physical strength. There is also a pun in that a ‘Trojan horse’ is an idiom for enemy infiltration under the guise of friendliness, hinting that Alan’s initially positive exposure to horses will have dire consequences.

la-di-da: A colloquial expression aping the long vowels associated with upper-class English accents, meaning that Frank feels the Horseman is patronising him.

Jesse James: The Horseman is being sarcastic here. Jesse James (1847-1882) was an American robber, outlaw and murderer, who became a legendary figure of the Wild West.

Investigating scene 10...

  • What do we discover in this scene about Alan’s interest in horses?
  • How effective do you think the staging is in this scene?
  • How do you think Alan feels about his parents after the encounter with the Horseman?
  • Does Shaffer give us any clues in this scene as to what happens later?
  • Why does Dysart tell Alan about the tape-recorder?
    • Why do you think Alan returns and takes it with him?
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