A Horse and Two Goats


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Painted a brilliant yellow and blue all over with gorgeous carvings of gods and gargoyles on its balustrade, it was known as the Big House. The other houses, distributed in four streets, were generally of bamboo thatch, straw, mud, and other unspecified material. And we also notice the touch of humour in the comment on the name Kritam; and as Muni is the least of the villagers his hut is the last in the last street of the village. This is about two-thirds of the opening paragraph of the story. So Muni is poor. A definition of his poverty follows, in the second para of the story.

His wife lit the domestic fire at dawn, boiled water in a mud pot, threw into it a handful of millet flour, added salt, and gave him his first nourishment for the day. When he started out, she would put in his hand a packed lunch, once again the same millet cooked into a little ball, which he could swallow with a raw onion at midday. She was old, but he was older and needed all the attention she could give him in order to be kept alive. But let us pause at the packed lunch.

To commuters in India it might evoke associations of tiffin carriers; for westerners it could mean a nice fat carton of selective watch your calories snacks. But having roused our expectations, Narayan dashes them in the very next breath with the letup of just a comma ; once again the same millet cooked into a little ball, which he could swallow with a raw onion at midday. And here is how, to cap it, Narayan concludes his statement: …She was old, but he was older and needed all the attention she could give him in order to be kept alive.

The last observation breaks through the crust of the preceding lines even as their humanity does through their sub-human living. Here is the second half of the next paragraph: …And so the two goats were tethered to the trunk of a drumstick tree which grew in front of his hut from which occasionally Muni could shake down drumsticks.

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A Horse and Two Goats by R K Narayan: Summary & Analysis

This morning he got six. He carried them in with a sense of triumph. Although no one could say precisely who owned the tree, it was his because he lived in its shadow. And meanwhile there is the last sentence. This is the drumstick tree.


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I believe that Narayan could have planted with equal facility any other vegetable tree or plant here; for example, a jackfruit tree or a gourd creeper. We normally have to take the idiomatic meaning of the phrase, but I think in the given context it acquires literal overtones. When Muni asks his wife for drumstick sauce, she orders him out to somehow procure the groceries for making the sauce; and Muni approaches the village shopman.

The shopman helps Narayan throw light on Muni in a couple of ways.

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But even daughters will do for Muni, childless, he would very much like to have some. He recollected the thrill he had felt when he mentioned a daughter to that shopman; although it was not believed, what if he did not have a daughter?


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  7. Still, everyone in the village whispered behind their backs that Muni and wife were a barren couple…. Muni may be poor but he still has vestiges of dignity and self-respect. Here is the conclusion of his unsuccessful mission to the shopman who indulges in Muni-baiting, giving him nothing but mockery and scorn. But what can I do? Who can dream of a bath when you have to scratch the tankbed for a bowl of water?

    ICSE - Treasure Trove - A Horse and Two Goats - HINDI Explanation - R. K. Narayan - With Summary

    We would all be parched and dead but for the Big House, where they let us take a pot of water from their well. So go out and sell the drumsticks for what they are worth. But let us now move on to the scene that is central to the action of the story. This is the scene between Muni and the foreigner.

    Basically Narayan is exploiting a device from the slapstick, of dialogue that two deaf people create when they encounter each other in earnest business. How do you do? Have you any religious or spiritual scruples against English speech? But with Muni he seems to be getting nowhere; the two are on two different wave-lengths. Is your daughter married? Is it difficult to find a son-in-law in your country also?

    He went up casually to them and stroked their backs with every show of courteous attention. Now the truth dawned on the old man. His dream of a lifetime was about to be realized. He understood that the red man was actually making an offer for the goats. He is unnamed. He is the red-faced foreigner, the red man, the foreigner without a name. But Narayan invents the American with the very quirk and tang of Americanese. Ruth may disapprove, but I will convince her. The TV may have to be shifted too. Ruth will probably say what about when we have a party? This is seasoned literary ventriloquism and it helps superbly concretize the image of the American.

    Characters | Study Guide: A Horse and Two Goats

    Still, this is the case of a character being endowed with more than a local habitation—and that without a name: purposely. His speech, his manner and his actions typify him as a westerner--and who is more western in modern times than a New Yorker. If anything Narayan may be placing a spotlight on the arrogance of the American when it comes to his belief that he can purchase something that may be traditionally important to the village. It is also interesting that Narayan allows Muni to get the better of the American when he purchases the two goats instead of the horse.

    The American thinks that Muni is going back into the village to get the help of others so that the American can remove the horse. This may be significant as through all the confusion between Muni and the American it has never dawned on the American that the deal he has struck is in fact for the two goats.

    The American is on holidays and in all likelihood he has spent the duration of his trip trying to buy sacred items in the other places he has visited. On this occasion he has not succeeded. The horse will remain in the village and the American may never see Muni again. However Muni has prospered from his engagement with the American.

    He needed twenty rupees to set up a small shop and now has one hundred and twenty rupees. Through all the confusion Muni without knowing it has outwitted the American. Which may be the point that Narayan is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that those who are culturally rich Muni will always get the better of those who are not the American.

    Cite Post McManus, Dermot. The Sitting Bee, 3 Aug. Related Posts: House Opposite by R. Narayan Stories of Ourselves 2 comments Gargi June 15, pm Thanks, it helped me a lot in doing my project and my homework. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Home About Contact. A Horse and Two Goats by R.

    Narayan 3 Aug Dermot R. Narayan , Stories of Ourselves Cite Post. Narayan Stories of Ourselves. Thanks, it helped me a lot in doing my project and my homework. Dermot Post Author June 15, pm.

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