Act One Scene Thirteen

Synopsis of Scene 13

The stage directions explain that Alan gives the tape to the nurse. She takes it to Dysart, who turns it on. We hear Alan speaking into the tape. He explains what riding a horse felt like to him when he was six, and how he felt about horses subsequently. While Alan is speaking, Dysart takes notes.

The nurse shows Frank Strang in to see Dysart, and we hear Alan’s voice again, saying that he doesn’t want to use the tape-recorder any more.

Commentary on Scene 13

white horse in Revelations: Alan is referring to the white horse in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, which contains visions about the end of the world. In this, the horse is seen as warlike and fierce but also divine and good. The quotation is taken from Revelation 19:11-14:

 11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 

 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.                 KJB

‘Dashing .. flanks!’: This quotation by Alan sounds similar to one from a romantic Victorian retelling about a Saxon hero resisting Norman incursions, Hereward the Hunter, by H.W.Herbert:

the archers dashed their spurs into their chargers’ flanks and sped at a pace actually fearful ..

Equitation: Alan resents the formal aspect of riding a horse, in which horse and rider wear specific clothes and are expected to conform to a certain code of behaviour. To him, this takes away from the primitive, exciting aspect of the horse.

God sees .. everywhere: Dora is referring to the idea from Psalms 14:2 and 2 Chronicles 16:9 that God sees everything that occurs on earth.

Investigating scene 13...

  • How does Alan feel about horses?
    • How is this linked to religion?
  • How is his feeling towards horses related to his feelings for his parents, particularly his father?
  • Why do you think he says he won’t use the tape-recorder again?
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