Throughout her journey in Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, Lily Casey gained valuable understandings about deceit, death, and discipline. The diverse characters she encountered played a pivotal role in shaping her outlook on life. Helen Casey, Ted Conover, and Adam Casey all served as mentors to Lily during her challenging expedition and ultimately propelled her towards success.
Lily’s first marriage to Ted Conover was impulsive and ended in an annulment. When she moved to Chicago, she caught the attention of many men, but it was Ted’s charming words that immediately captivated her. They spent a lot of time together before Ted proposed marriage to Lily. At first, their marriage seemed successful, even though Ted often traveled for his “business.” They had a joint bank account which they both had access to. However, one day, after Lily was hit by a car, she discovered at the hospital that Ted was already married to another woman. Lily decided to follow Ted and met his wife and children. Confronting Ted about his deceit, she sought an annulment for their marriage. Alone in Chicago once again, Lily faced the added blow of discovering that Ted had taken nearly all of her money from their bank account. This experience taught Lily a valuable lesson about trusting others too easily. She realized that she had been foolish and resolved to become more independent. She became determined to find a job, saying, “I focused on the future… I obviously couldn’t count on a man to take care of me, what I needed more than ever was a profession” (Walls, 85). Through the betrayal of her first husband, Ted, Lily learned to be more self-reliant and hard-working in order to achieve her desires.
Helen, Lily’s younger sister, moved in with Lily and became depressed after discovering she was pregnant. Unfortunately, her depression led to her committing suicide by hanging herself in the rafters of their school. This devastating event deeply affected Lily, who initially considered quitting her teaching job and leaving Red Lake. However, she ultimately decides to stay and finish the school year.
After a few months pass, Lily realizes that she now has a strong desire to have children of her own. Helen’s actions not only ended her own life but also took away the life of her unborn baby. This realization brings about a newfound appreciation for the little joys in life that Lily had previously overlooked since Helen’s death – like witnessing a beautiful sunrise.
Instead of pitying herself, Lily is determined to bring new life into the world by becoming a mother. As a result of Helen’s tragic death, Lily eventually meets Jim Smith whom she marries and together they have two children: Rosemary and Jim Jr.
Lily learned the lesson of discipline from her father and their time on the ranch. Due to financial constraints, Lily had to work hard and assist her father on the ranch. While Adam taught her basic school skills, he also served as her mentor. He emphasized the importance of earning money through hard work and not shying away from taking risks. After Lily fell off a horse, Adam imparted a crucial lesson: “Most important thing in life is learning how to fall” (Walls, 21). With these values instilled in her, Lily successfully faces numerous challenges in her life by drawing upon the toughness and dedication taught by her father.
Throughout her life, Lily Casey is influenced by various factors that give her many life lessons. Among the important lessons she learns, three are taught by individual people: deceit, death, and discipline. These lessons shape her into the woman she becomes in adulthood. Although Ted Conover, Helen, and Adam had influential roles in Lily’s life, they are not the only ones who contribute to shaping her. Various people, places, and events all play a part in molding Lily Casey Smith into the inspiring woman she grows up to be.
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses. New York: Scribner, 2009. Print