The grandfather embodies the undisturbed life, and after his death Cole begins to think by himself. He leaves a world that he thought he knew for one in which none of the past rules were available. At the beginning he doesn't know that he departs to find the truth about life and about himself. Besides the differences between him and others he must go exploring the world, because when everything collapsed, when his world ruined, he started to understand that the world might mean something else. His awakening is very much alike with what Plato said in the allegory of the cave. Cole is one of the philosopher-prisoners who sees the sun , the symbol of knowledge, and goes to find it. On his way he is surrounded by all kinds of people who try to withhold him. Finding the truth is not such a simple mission , it involves some obstacles and reaching it requires the passing of certain stages, from innocence to experience. These changes are revealed in the book with the help of symbols. In the beginning of the novel Grady is seen as a child who wants to conquer the world, but at the end he is presented with scars on his face and chest. His lack of experience from the beginning makes him to mistake, and the scars are the symbols of rough time that harden him and made him an experienced man.
In the beginning Cole arrives to a ranch named "La hacienda de nuestra Senora de la Purisima Conception". This Mexican ranch is very much related to the state of the characters when they reach there. The name in English means Virgin Mary and implies that Grady arrives there with the hope that he will regain the moral values lost in his world. But Mexico is very similar to Texas. The owner of the ranch wants to combine two breeds of horses, so he wants to merge two styles of living, but he is very much against the union of his daughter with an American. This is the paradox of this world, and the meaning must to be seen in the symbol of horse. John Grady amazes everyone with his ability to break the wild horses, but this comes from the fact, that he himself is a wild horse, riding for a new truth. At certain moments in the novel characters are very much alike horses. The horse is the symbol of friendship and freedom: Cole goes with his friend to Mexico, and they get friends with a third: Jimmy Blevins who had stolen a horse. Their friendship and the stealing of this horse are the one that gets Cole near death. The owner of the Mexican ranch doesn't want to breed wild mountains horses with its stock; he wants to subjugate the most powerful breed to make a stronger one. At a negative meaning the horse represents the stamina, and also the love and the death. Extending at the level of characters: the owner of the Mexican ranch wants the help of Grady, he praises his ability, but he doesn't want the unification of the two worlds, symbolized by the marriage, and in this way he rejects Grady. They are two different cultures and civilizations and Grady is not welcomed in any side. From the moment they arrived at the ranch they were seen as employees and their help was only temporarily. Even Alejandra's aunt was against the young lovers' affair denouncing the cultural differences between them. In this respect, John and Alejandra can be visualized like two wild horses that experience the taste of freedom and love, but only one is ready to face them. Alejandra will drop out her dream, being influenced by her