The Transformation of Trond in Out Stealing Horses
Out Stealing Horses is the story of how an elderly man reconciles with his past and becomes the father that he should be. His past has influenced his relationships making his marriages and fatherhood experiences unfulfilling. At the end of the story, two events occur that cause Trond to reckon with his past and become a different man from his father. Secondly, it causes him to stop living in the shadow of his father. After the death of his wife and sister, Trond, who is sixty seven years old, decides he prefers solitude and quietness. In fact he feels that he has just lost interest talking to people. He moves to a deserted area in Norway where he intends to live the rest of his life peacefully. This occurs in the year 1999. The only companion he has is his dog, Lyra. However fate has different plan. Instead of having quiet days, events occur that cause him not to spend the rest of his days alone. He meets with a neighbour called Lars Haug. It turns out it is the same Lars he knew when he was 15 years old. His father had taken him to a cabin in the countryside to stay with him. He befriended a boy called Jon who had brothers called Lars and Odd. He is confronted by memories that he would rather not deal with. These are the memories of his father’s abandonment in the summer of 1948. At this time, while isolated and after meeting Lars, he recalls details of his past for the first time. On speaking with Lars, it is like a tap has been opened that has let lose memories. He had thought that he was the one in charge of his painful memories. He actually says that “he decides when it should hurt” At this time however he is unable to control the memories as they come to his mind in unpleasant waves. However the most painful memory of all is that this is the time the dad abandoned him. Since he has never fully understood and accepted the reason why his father left, he has never moved on beyond the past. However, to advance into the future, Trond has to deal with his past. The solitude in his house at night causes him to think hard his father’s choice to leave him and the mother all those years ago. He was a member of the Norwegian Resistance. These are the people who resisted the Nazi occupation in Norway, therefore during the war he had to go into hiding. There are also other memories that Trod remembers from that time in 1948. The novel shows present and past scenes of how the summer of his father was and his interactions with Lars’s family. During that summer, he lost his heroes. For Jon, who he had spent all his time with, the family had to leave. For his father, apart from abandoning him, he had felt betrayed by his choice of having an affair with Jon’s mother. The title of the book comes from the events at this time. “Out Stealing Horses” comes from the act of riding the neighbour’s horses without permission. This is something that Trond and Jon used to do at the time. Lars, himself at the time is also dealing with his past.
Fifty years earlier, a tragic accident happened where Lars took a gun and while handling it, accidentally shoots his twin brother dead. They had been playing with the gun and unfortunately, it had been negligently loaded. The gun belonged to Jon. As the two men interact and discuss their pasts, they help each other gradually to begin healing from the past. At the end of the book Trond decides not to live in the past. He is extremely moved that one of his daughters Ellen has come to look for him. She has spent quite a lot of resources to track him down to his new location. Ellen narrates to him of his constant absences in her life. This reminds Trond of the effect of his father’s own absences in his life. He realises he does not want to be alone and he does not want her to leave either. As Trond deeply examines his father’s life he realises he has become just his father. He has also abandoned his children and desired to live a solitary life. Ellen talks with him her concerns that “what if they are not the leading characters in their lives”? Trond realises that all this time he has been living in the shadow of the past and needs to enjoy the present with his children and other people in his life. He is envisions his future if he continues living the way he had desired to live and realises that he desires to change. He even starts to have nightmares where he is afraid he has never really been in control of his life due to the events of the past.
In Out Stealing Horses, an elderly man is able to be transformed into a relational person after an unforgettable experience in a deserted location where he thought he had escaped from people. He meets a person he knew from the past who they share intense memories and a daughter seeks him out and his life is changed.
Petterson, Per. Out Stealing Horses. Minnesota: Graywolf Press. 2007. Print.