In the story, the three sons and daughter of the horse dealer are compared to animals (mainly dogs and horses); the older brother, Joe, is described as a "subject animal" that is about to "marry and go into harness," on the other hand, Fred Henry thinks of himself as an "animal which controls," Mabel is named " bull-dog" by her brothers and they are all represented by the narrator through an imagery of four horses having no sense of direction and walking in a movement that "showed a massive, slumberous strength, and a stupidity which held them in subjection."
These animal referenced metaphors lead to the understanding of the animalized nature of the brothers that make them have no feeling of love, respect and affection toward their sister. In the story, the brothers show no interest on their sister's doom because they all garneted what they are going' to do after leaving the house. The future of their sister remains neglected by them although she clearly says that she does not intend to go to her sister's house as planned. This emotionless treatment was one of the main motives that lead to the sister's attempt to commit suicide later on.
The use of animal symbolism at the beginning of the story and in description of the characters adds the dark mood of animal life, where you cannot distinguish between friend and foes, upon the story. The animal symbolism also builds up the background and life reference of the protagonist, Mabel, which justifies the proceeding actions.
Later in the story, Mabel tries to drown herself in a pond but her attempt fails when saved by the young doctor, Jack Ferguson. This drowning in the pond represents the summit of Mabel's depression and confusion. The rescue, on the other hand, represents a second chance to her. From that angle, the pond is seen as a symbol of death...