Johnson was able to successfully and effectively bring out the theme of freedom and entrapment in man called horse through the characters and use of irony within the story. In A Man Called Horse, the theme of freedom and entrapment can be seen in both the emotional and physical aspect in mainly three characters – Horse, Yellow Robe and Greasy Hand. The emotional and physical entrapment of horse is a large component of the theme of freedom and entrapment. Horse was portrayed as physically free at the start but emotionally entrapped. Horse's reason to have left his house was due to the fact that he could not see that people around him as his equals and instead saw them to be superior to him or below him rendering him emotionally entrapped. Thus, His "father's wealth" ensured his physical freedom even though he was emotionally entrapped, letting him to even be able to live a comfortable and privilege life.
When Horse had been held captive by the Indians, he became emotionally and physically entrapped, forcing him to give up his human rights and accepted his status as an animal within the Indian tribe. Horse finally decided he would learn to be "docile' like a horse and not strike back when provoked. This marks the beginning of the bonds of emotional entrapment towards finding people equal to him loosening. When Horse got " first coop" his status was boosted up from horse to man, finally regaining his right as a man, gaining the same respect as others. At this point, horse finally attained emotional and physical freedom, being among his equals. Horse rose up the ranks as he gained respect from the Crows over time and recognition within the tribe as a man, allowing him to have a "crow marriage." .
In his plan to successfully escape, he married pretty calf in hope that she will be the key to his freedom. Irony is used to bring out the theme of Freedom and entrapment in this incident.