Half Broke Horses


Jeannette Walls

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Mr. MacIntosh Character Analysis

The county superintendent in Red Lake, Mr. MacIntosh tells Lily she will only be able to work at the local school until they find a more qualified teacher. Upon firing Lily three years later, he remarks that she has “pretty eyes” and will be fine so long as she finds herself a husband. Lily repeatedly refers to him as “fish-faced,” and to her Mr. MacIntosh represents the pencil-pushers and bureaucracy she loathes. Later, when Lily has returned to Red Lake and invites the pregnant Helen to stay with her, Mr. MacIntosh says that the latter must leave to uphold the moral standards of the school—something Lily finds deeply hypocritical, given the sordid lifestyles of many of her students’ parents.

Mr. MacIntosh Quotes in Half Broke Horses

The Half Broke Horses quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. MacIntosh or refer to Mr. MacIntosh. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Chapter 3  Quotes

I couldn't help feeling a little burned about being told by Fish Face that I was now unqualified to do something I'd spent the last four years doing.

Superintendent Maclntosh seemed to know what I was thinking. "You're young and strong, and you got pretty eyes," he said. "You just find yourself a husband—one of these soldier boys—and you'll be fine."

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Mr. MacIntosh (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The parents of my schoolkids included cattle rustlers, drunks, land speculators, bootleggers, gamblers, and former prostitutes. They didn't mind me racing horses, playing poker, or drinking contraband whiskey, but my showing some compassion to a sister who'd been taken advantage of and then abandoned by a smooth-talking scoundrel filled them with moral indignation. It made me want to throttle them all.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Helen, Mr. MacIntosh
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. MacIntosh Character Timeline in Half Broke Horses

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. MacIntosh appears in Half Broke Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3 
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Shortly after Lily’s arrival, she meets the county superintendent, Mr. MacIntosh . He explains that the board wants certified teachers with at least an eighth-grade education,... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Halfway through the year, Mr. MacIntosh finds a certified teacher for Red Lake. For the next three years after that, Lily... (full context)
Chapter 4
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
...women.” The whole town now knows about Helen’s pregnancy, and treats both sisters with contempt. Mr. MacIntosh comes to the teacherage and says that to uphold moral standards at the school, Helen... (full context)