Presentations text content in A Horse Goats a nd Two Group Members
Genre and Tone
Significance of Title
Real Life Experience
Point of View
Author Techniques and Literary Devices
Personal Connection QuestionSlide4
Genre and Tone
A Horse and Two Goats is a short story. Its genre is humor and sarcasm . The conversation between Muni and the foreigner tells us that both individuals are fairly polite and respectful. However, the tone of the narrator is mocking as he describes how both characters assume that they have perfect understandin
g of each other. “ At this stage the mutual mystification was complete, and there was no need even to carry on a guessing game at the meaning of the words.” This adds to the humor of the passage.Slide5
The American makes his leave with the horse statue towed in his station wagon, while Muni returns home to his wife. He explains to his wife that the money has come from their sold goats; she is infuriated and does not believe him. Muni is left confused, and the story ends with the wife threatening him:
“Don’t involve me. I will go away to my parents...”
Muni is shown as poor and deprived old man whose prosperous days have passed. Muni and his wife are taunted by the villagers as a ‘barren couple’ as they have no children.
Muni sets out to buy the grocery items required for his meal. He is with his two goats. However, Muni is sent away by the local shopkeeper as he is already in debt. Muni is let down, and continues to his usual spot, underneath a large clay statue of a horse and warrior, where he rests, as his goats graze.
Muni begs his wife to make him a breakfast of ‘drumsticks’.
“Oh, I am tired of eating those leaves. I have a craving to chew the drumsticks out of sauce, I tell you.”She decides to make this breakfast as long as Muni is able to find the other ingredients needed.
Unexpectedly, an American man pulls over in his wagon, and approaches Muni, frightening him, for Muni thinks that he is a policeman. The stranger greets him in Tamil, then continues the conversation in English. Muni replies with ‘Yes, no’. These two words are as far as Muni’s English vocabulary reaches.
The foreigner, a businessman from New York, offers a cigarette to Muni. Muni accepts this offer, and the American man then pulls out a business card. Muni becomes startled at this action, as he believes that this is a warrant of some kind, therefore starts blabbering of his innocence and how he has not committed any crime.
Muni realizes that ‘some financial element was entering their talk’. When the American strokes goats’ backs with every show of courteous attention’, he thinks that the foreigner wants to buy his goats.
Finally after this strange conversation, the foreigner places a 100 rupee note into Muni’s hand. Muni believes he has just sold his goats, while the American believes he has just purchased the statue.
This story is set in
, a tiny village located on the edge of India, during the time when India was a British colony. The village is so small that it is not even mentioned in any atlas and in the local survey map it is marked as a tiny dot. Most of the natives who live there are poor, rare educated farmers and deeply rooted in Hindu traditions. It seems that the story is placed in the nineteen sixties because of the typical khaki safari dress the tourist wears.Slide7
Apparently, the most relevant and important thematic element in the story is cultural differences. Both the American and the old man are quite ignorant and ethnocentric by knowing little of each other’s cultural background, and both keep talking about different topics, not understanding a word of what the other one is saying. R. K.
, who may have experienced a similar situation, is trying to convey that cross-cultural knowledge is important in the world today. The fact that they cannot understand each other, can be looked upon as the main conflict.
Muni is poor and the American is rich. We see how different these two people are by what they value. For the wealthy American, the statue is nothing but pretty decoration, and the hundred rupees he offers the old man are of little value to him. Muni, considers it a dream to have more than 20 rupees. The statue of the horse isn’t a decorative object for Muni. As a matter of fact, Muni values it for the spiritual importance of it. This shows us that wealthy people are quite materialistic, while the poor value small things.
The main theme of this passage is clash of cultures. Muni’s culture is different from culture of American. The foreigner and Muni speak different languages. Muni lives in village while foreigner is from New York. Muni works like a farmer and has to work hard to cater to his own needs while the foreigner works in an office. He is rich and has enough money to afford the luxury of a statue. Muni smokes occasionally, whereas the foreigner smokes frequently. There is hardly any similarity between Muni and the foreigner. They belong to different cultures and languages, and there is finality in their conversation that indicates that such a variety cannot be united. It is a clash, and meant to be that way.
Another sub-dominant theme in the story is the role of women. Muni’s wife is said to have always had the upper hand in their relationship, and the foreigner’s wife too seems to have a lot of influence on him. Of the progeny that Muni desires, he specifically desires a daughter; and it’s the postman’s wife who brings a bad name to him. Although no role of a single woman is major in the story, this indicates that women have a major role to play in the lives of men and what they do outside home. They have an important, albeit background role as it is in this story.
The second theme is Hope. The two goats are Muni’s only fortune. He is very poor as we conclude from when he says:“Bath! Who can dream of a bath when you have to scratch the tank-bed for a bowl of water?” To add on, Muni does not have anything to eat. He is not starved, but not able to afford a variety of foodstuff either. Yet Muni never loses hope. Every day he goes with his goats from morning till evening. Muni believes that his gods will help him, and a miracle will occur. He gets his reward, Rs.100 without even losing anything (goats). That is the power of hope.
Along with this, he shows lack of respect when he sees a statue he finds to his liking, and wants it in his possession at once without considering what the statue means for him or the native people. This way, the American is presented as a typical wealthy western person, who is quite materialistic and thinks that money solves all problems. What can be considered as odd, and perhaps just another example of western ignorance, is that the American naturally assumes that because the old man stands beside the statute, he owns it.
He speaks only English, but is surprised and a little annoyed to find that Muni can speak only Tamil. Although he is in the tiniest village in India, he expects to find a gas station and English-speaking goatherds. Being a wealthy person, probably a businessman from New York, The American should know more about Indian culture, than what the old man should know about the western ways.
Our protagonist . He was once wealthy, but is not desperately poor. He relies on his wife heavily and no longer has any shame or pride when it comes to his poverty.
He is depicted as a poor conservative person, who believes that “the cinema has spoiled the people and taught them how to do evil things.” Muni is presented as the typical poor native who is quite the opposite of the American. His salary is mentioned as in coppers and nickels, and he has not seen currency notes higher than fives and tens.
Muni is portrayed as a disciplined and religious character as well, which is typical Indian. In the beginning of the conversation, he just wants the American to go away, but as the American keeps talking, Muni wants to repay this by leading the conversation on, himself. He also seems like a lonely person, because it is revealed later on that he is very grateful for the American’s company. Muni tells the American about the religious aspects of the horse statue, thus indicating that he is a quite religious person (perhaps there is also a trace of superstition).
Materialism is not an important factor for Muni, whose dream of a lifetime is opening up a small shop. As mentioned earlier, it is perhaps not so surprising that Muni knew little about western culture. As a poor rural man from a third-world country, he has limited access to information about other cultures. Therefore, he has trouble understanding that the American wants to obtain the statue, because the lack of materialistic ideology in his way of thinking makes him ignore the fact that the American perhaps wants to buy this particular object, which has no practical use at all.Slide10
Point of View
"A Horse and Two Goats" is narrated in the third person by an omniscient narrator who reports clearly and objectively on the characters' words, actions, and memories, but who does not comment or judge. The narrator describes
erosion and Muni's decline dispassionately, without regret; conversations between Muni and his wife, or Muni and the shop man, are told from Muni's perspective, but with his calm acceptance of whatever fate brings him.
When the two men leave the place where they met, each taking away something of value, neither has been accused by the narrator—nor by the reader—of foolishness...
This restraint is important to the understated humor of the dialogue between Muni and the American;
trusts the reader to interpret the absurd conversation without his having to say through his narrator, "Notice that this response has nothing to do with the question asked," or "See the irony in this remark."Slide11
However, it is to be noted that the horse, an animal of royal breed is compared to a mere two goats in this title. In this position, the horse, needless to say, holds a position of seniority. This clearly hints at the status disparity indicated later on, between Muni and the foreigner. As it is revealed later, we realize that even the statue of a horse is more valuable to person of high status, than two living goats. This indicates perhaps, that even a symbol of a rich man is given more importance in the world than a multitude of poor people.
Significance of Title
Just like the narration, the Title of the story can be very misleading in indicating that the subject of the story is no more than three mild animals. It appears as if the story is personified and these are its protagonists when in fact, the story revolves around a lower caste Indian’s and an American’s conversation.Slide12
He flung himself down
To throw away with force
A sense of frustration due to the violence of the action.
—considering that his only exertion was a
with the shopkeeper.
Flourished his lighter
Flourished a hundred rupee currency note
To brandish with pride/ a fanfare
Sense of the
to Muni’s surprise on such a simple action – picked up by his comical response.
There is grandeur in the use of the word that highlights the status difference.
A deeper bog of reminiscence
A bog – wet peat land often holding ancient remains
This is a
for the sense of sinking deeper into the memory and also linking the idea of memory to that of finding remains in bogs.
) Depicts the deep cultural roots of Muni as a
to superfluity of the American.
Flames burn and destroy
Here is a suggestion of passion and strength. This is
considering the complacency of Muni, who depicts the “people of this country” as the American words it.
M heightens the phrase – a sense of having attained the purpose of the encounter.
Sentences are predominantly long, intended for detailed description.
The statue of the Horse is the future incarnation of the God Vishnu.
It is a symbol of superiority.
A big chunk of the story is told through flashbacks and recollections of Muni’s life, and especially his youth. As Muni talks to the American, he dives into a “deeper bog of reminiscence” Flashbacks in this story are important because they are further proof of the omniscience of the narrator. They are also a reminder of Muni’s old age, and a symbol of the typical old age life of Indians.
The foreigner alludes to the 1965 New York City Blackout in which he was stuck in his office in Empire State Building for four hours. This endorses the opinion that the story is set in the 1960s.
Humor in the story is created mainly by:
Comic effects of body language
Misunderstandings and misinterpretation
Language barrier between Muni and the foreigner
“Her temper was undependable in the morning, but improved by evening time.”
writing style is simple and unpretentious with a natural element of humour in it. His language, characters and situations are easily relatable, and he uses a variety techniques and devices in his prose as any skilful writer. His prose is objective, minimally analytical, and realistic. His achievement is condensing much greater elements and themes in such a simple prose.Slide13
Personnel Connection Question
Q2. How does
explain the gap between Indian and American cultures, through his short story "A Horse and Two Goats"?Slide14
Real–life experiences, historical events and human conditions
In the Sub-Continents rural areas it is also common that literacy rate is very low. Very few people know English. Villagers are out of touch of the modern world.
We can not be happy all time. Profits and loss are a part of life. Once Muni owned a flock of 40 goats and now he has only 2 goats which are not even worthy rent of half a rupee per month.
The people around Muni treat him badly. This reveals that people treat poor very badly.
Human nature is discussed through the fact that when Muni gets money, he gets elated and jubilated yet his wife is astonished and suspects him of stealing.
Real Life Example:
went to Malaysia. We didn’t know the common Malay language spoken there. We didn’t knew any direction , or about superstores so we asked some common people from where to get food. We spoke in English and these people didn’t know English that well. After sometime of arguing and trying to explain them. What we wanted ,one person amongst them arrived at the conclusion: “Eat stones.” So we had to surrender and walk away.
and his family