A Horse and Two Goats Summary in English by R.K. Narayan

A Horse and Two Goats Story Summary in English and Hindi Pdf. A Horse and Two Goats is written by R.K. Narayan.

A Horse and Two Goats Story Summary in English by R.K. Narayan

A Horse and Two Goats Story Summary
A Horse and Two Goats Story Summary

A Horse and Two Goats About the Author

R.K. Narayan was born in a working class south Indian family in Chennai in 1906. Since his father, who was a school headmaster, used to be frequently transferred from one place to another, R.K. Narayan spent most of his childhood under the loving care of his grandmother, Parvati. It was his grandmother who taught him arithmetic, mythology and Sanskrit. He also attended many different schools in Chennai like Lutheran Mission School, Christian College High School, etc. He was interested in English literature since he was very young. His reading habit further developed when he moved to Mysore with his family and there his father’s school library offered him gems of writings from authors like Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Wodehouse, etc.

After getting married in 1933, Narayan became a reporter for a newspaper called The Justice and in the meantime, he sent the manuscript of Swami and Friends to his friend at Oxford who in turn showed it to Graham Greene. Greene got the book published. His second novel The Bachelor of Arts was published in 1937. It was based on his experiences at college. This book was again published by Graham Greene who by now started counselling Narayan on how to write and what to write about to target the English speaking audience. In 1938, Narayan wrote his third novel called The Dark Room which dealt with the subject of emotional abuse within a marriage and it was warmly received, both by readers and critics. During the 1980s Narayan wrote prolifically. He is best known for his novels such as Mr Sampath (1949), The Financial Expert (1952), The Guide (1958) for which he received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961, and The Man-eater of Malgudi (1961), and the stories, ‘Malgudi Days’ (1982).

A Horse and Two Goats About the Story

All about the Story A Horse and Two Goats:
The story is about misunderstanding between an Indian named Muni and an American businessman. The foreigner with his English is baffled by the incomprehensible behaviour of Muni while Muni is equally mystified by the American’s strange words and antics. The author makes the story amusing and humorous in many ways.

The story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ deals with the misunderstanding that takes place between an Indian named Muni and an American businessman. Muni, an old man, lives with his wife in poverty. The couple lives in a small south Indian village. Muni has taken his goats to the usual spot which is a few miles away. He is sitting around a statue of a horse made of weather-beaten clay. As Muni watches the trucks and buses, a yellow station wagon comes and stops there. A red-faced American man dressed in khaki clothing comes out and asks Muni about the nearest gas station in English. There he notices the statue which he finds ‘marvellous’. Muni does not understand English. He thinks that the man in khaki must be a policeman or a soldier. He is scared of him.

The American gives him a card but Muni thinks that it is a warrant of some kind. Muni gives a long explanation of his innocence of whatever the crime he is investigating. The American asks questions about the statue which he would like to buy. Muni gives some information about the statue in Tamil language. Though the American does not understand Tamil, he enjoys every word that Muni utters. Muni interprets the statue “This is our guardian At the end of Kali Yuga, this world and all other worlds will be destroyed, and the Redeemer will come in the shape of a horse.” The American says, “I assure you this will have the best home in the U.S.A. and I don’t see how that can interfere with the party – we’ll stand around him and have our drinks.”

Finally the American pushes one hundred rupees into Muni’s hands and considers that he has bought the statue as he thinks that Muni is the owner of the statue. Muni thinks that he has bought his goats. Muni goes home to give the money to his wife while the American flags down a truck, gets help to break the horse off his pedestal, and drives away with his purchase. Muni’s wife does not believe his story. Her suspicion is confirmed when the goats find their way home. She shouts at him and says, “If you have thieved, the police will come tonight and break your bones. Don’t involve me. I will go away to my parents….”

A Horse and Two Goats Summary in English

Life in Kritam
The story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ revolves around a poor protagonist named Muni who lives in a tiny south Indian village named Kritam. There are about thirty houses in the village and only one called the Big House is made of bricks. The others, including Muni’s, are made of bamboo thatch, straw and mud, etc. There is no running water and no electricity.

Muni’s wife cooks their typical breakfast of ‘a handful of millet flour’ over a fire in mud pot. On this day, Muni has shaken down six drumsticks from drumstick tree growing in front of his house, and he asks his wife to prepare them for him in a sauce. She agrees, provided he can get the other ingredients, none of which they have in the house – rice, dhal (lentils), spices, oil and a potato.

Muni’s poverty
Muni and his wife lead a poor life. But they have not always been poor. There was a time when he had a flock of forty sheep and goats. But life has not been kind to him and his animals. Years of drought, a great famine and an epidemic ruined Muni’s flock. Since he belonged to the lowest of India’s castes, he was never allowed to go to school or learn a trade. At present he is left with two goats. Muni and his wife have no children. Their only income is from the odd jobs his wife does at the Big House.

Muni has exhausted his credit at every shop. Now when he goes to get the items his wife requires to cook the drumsticks, he is insulted and sent away. There is no other food in the house. Muni’s wife asks him to go away with goats and fast today. Muni takes the goats to the usual spot which is a few miles away. It is a grassy spot near the highway. There he sits in the shade of a life-size statue of a horse and a warrior and watches trucks and buses go by. The statue is made of weather-beaten clay and has stood in the same spot for more than seventy years.

Arrival of an American
As Muni watches the trucks and buses, a yellow station wagon comes down the road and pulls over. A red-faced American man dressed in khaki clothing comes out and asks Muni about the nearest gas station. There he notices the statue which he finds ‘marvellous’. Muni wants to run away as he thinks that this foreigner in khaki must be a policeman or a soldier. But Muni is too old to run away. The two begin to converse with each other. Both don’t understand each other’s language. The American says “Namaste ! How do you do ?” Muni responds with the only English words he knows : “Yes, no.”

Muni’s apprehensions about the American
The American is a businessman from New York city. He lights a cigarette and offers one to Muni. He offers Muni his business card, but Muni gets scared as he thinks that it is a warrant of some kind. Muni gives a long explanation of his innocence of whatever crime the man is investigating. The American asks questions about the horse statue which he would like to buy. While talking to Muni, he narrates a bad day at work when he had to work for four hours without elevators and electricity. He is unaware that Muni has to live this kind of life everyday. By now the American is convinced that Muni is the owner of the statue which he is determined to buy.

Muni’s interpretation of the statue
Muni gives some information about the statue to the American that he had from his father and grandfather. “I get a kick out of every word you utter,” the American says. Though he does not understand Muni’s language, he enjoys the words. Muni reminisces his impoverished childhood days, the American laughs heartily.

Muni interprets the statue : “This is our guardian….. At the end of Kali Yuga, this world and all other worlds will be destroyed, and the Redeemer will come in the shape of a horse.” The American says, “I assure you this will have the best home in U.S.A. I’ll push away the bookcase – The TV may have to be shifted – I don’t see how that can interfere with the party – we’ll stand around him and have our drinks.” It is clear that even if the two had understood each other’s words, they would not have understood each other’s worlds.

The American gesture and the confusion
Finally, the American pushes one hundred rupees into Muni’s hand. This money is twenty times more than Muni’s debt with the shopkeeper. The American considers that he has bought the horse, and Muni believes that he has just sold his goats. Muni goes home to give the money to his wife, while the American flags down a truck, gets help to break the horse off his pedestal, and drives away with his purchase. Muni’s wife does not believe his story. Her suspicion is confirmed when the goats find their way home. At the end of the story Muni’s wife shrieks and says, “If you have thieved, the police will come tonight and break your bones. Don’t involve me. I will go away to my parents ……”

A Horse and Two Goats Word Notes and Explanations

gorgeous – lovely
faggots – a bunch of sticks tied together
drumstick – type of horseradish
craving – a strong desire
itinerant – travelling from place to place
displaying – showing
parched – very dry
irritate – annoy
scrub – clean
gawky – awkward way
pestilence – infectious disease
scraggy – thin
barren – infertile
bullied – insulted / frightened
moulded – shaped
assortment – a collection of different things
puzzled – confused
flourished – succeeded/ developed
gushed – poured/flowed
mutilated – damaged
speculation – guess
deliberation – discussion
oration – lectures
propelled – moved/pushed
abandoned – left
antiquity – ancient past
demonstrative – showing feelings openly
faded – became less bright
discourses – lectures
inevitable – unavoidable
trampled – stepped heavily on something
mounds – piles
investigation – examination
progeny – a person’s children
appropriate – suitable
gestures – movements with hands or head to indicate something
peered – looked closely
ruminated – pondered
snatched – grabbed
wriggled – twisted

A Horse and Two Goats Theme

R.K. Narayan presents a clash between Indian and Western Culture in his story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’. Muni, the poor south Indian protagonist represents the Indian culture while
the American businessman represents the American culture. Muni is a poor, uneducated Hindu while the American is a wealthy, educated American. As a good Hindu, Muni calmly accepts his fate, while the American endeavours to change his life. Each man is ignorant of the other’s way of life.

Muni speaks Tamil, while the American businessman speaks English. The two are unable to communicate with each other. Muni speaks about his own life, while the American speaks about his own life. It leads to confusion. At the end of their encounter each man has what he wants, and neither has lost anything of value.

Both Muni and the American businessman differ in their respective level of wealth. Muni is poor and lives in a house made of bamboo thatch, straw and mud, etc., while the American businessman is rich and lives in a comfortable house.

Muni does not have formal education because he belongs to the lower caste. He has not travelled beyond his village and he likes to watch trucks and buses go by on the highway in order to have a sense of belonging to a larger world. But he has a lot of knowledge of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He gained it by listening to speakers at the temple. The American, on the other hand, has received education. He possesses a large number of books. Thus both have different ways of looking at things. Whereas Muni tries to tell him the significance of the horse statue, the American regards it only as a living room decoration.

Thus both have different attitudes towards life and things. Hence the writer shows the difference between the two cultures.

A Horse and Two Goats Title

The title of the story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ is very apt and it suits the story as the whole story revolves around the statue of a horse and Muni’s two goats. Muni grazes his goats at a grassy spot near the highway. There stands a statue of a horse and a warrior. A red-faced American takes a fancy to the statue of the horse and wants to buy it. He believes that Muni is the owner of the statue. So he talks to Muni about the statue in English. But Muni does not understand English. He speaks to him in Tamil. Both are unintelligible to each other. The American gives hundred rupees to Muni and thinks that he has bought the statue. But Muni thinks that he has bought his goats. So the story which revolves around the horse and the goats is actually about the misunderstanding between Muni and the American businessman.

A Horse and Two Goats Message

In this story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’, the author conveys a message that each individual should follow his own culture. He should not imitate other’s culture blindly. In the story Muni, the poor south Indian Hindu, follows his own Indian culture while the American businessman follows his own. The author, no doubt, presents a clash between the Indian and American culture, but does not want Muni and the American businessman to imitate each other’s culture.

As a good Hindu, Muni calmly accepts his fate, while the American endeavours to change his life. Each man is ignorant of the other’s way of life. Muni speaks Tamil, while the American businessman speaks English. The two are unable to communicate with each other. Muni speaks about his own life while the American speaks about his own life. It leads to confusion. At the end of their encounter, each man has what he wants, and neither has anything of value. Both Muni and the American businessman differ in their respective level of wealth. Muni does not have a formal education and has not travelled beyond his village. But he has a lot of knowledge of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The American, on the other hand, has received education, and possesses a large number of books. But both have different ways of looking at things. Neither Muni nor the American businessman tries to imitate the other.

A Horse and Two Goats Character Sketch

1. MUNI

  • poor old man
  • protagonist of the story
  • lives in a house made of bamboo thatch
  • lives with his wife, no children
  • no formal education, belongs to low caste
  • confronts an American businessman
  • scared of him
  • considers him a policeman or a soldier
  • speaks Tamil, unintelligible to the American businessman
  • possesses a lot of knowledge about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
  • his financial troubles are over at the end

Muni who lives in a tiny south Indian village is a poor old man. He being the protagonist of the story plays a major role in the story. He lives in a house made of bamboo thatch, straw and mud. Once he was a prosperous man and had a flock of forty sheep and goats. But years of drought, a great famine and an epidemic have ruined his flock. He is left with only two goats. He and his wife have almost no income and no children to look after them.

Muni has no formal education. He could not go to school because he belonged to lower caste. He is ignorant and lacks confidence. When the American gives him a card, he gets scared as he thinks that it is a warrant of some kind. Muni gives a long explanation of his innocence of whatever crime the man is investigating. When the man tries to talk to him about the statue of the horse in English, he babbles on about the recent murder and the end of the worlds.

He speaks in Tamil and so is unintelligible to the American. The American speaks in English and so he is unintelligible to him. But both converse with each other. It leads to confusion. But at the end of the encounter, each man gets what he wants and neither has lost anything of value.

Though Muni has no formal education, he has a lot of knowledge of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. He gains it by listening to the speaker at the temple.

At the end, it appears that his financial troubles are over because he has received hundred rupees from the American, but his bad luck continues when his wife suspects him of thieving and threatens to leave and go away to her parents.

2. THE AMERICAN

  • The American businessman dressed in khaki
  • confronts Muni, speaks English
  • represents American culture
  • buys the statue of a horse
  • gives hundred rupees to Muni

The American, a businessman from New York city, represents American culture. He is dressed in khaki clothing worn by American tourists. He comes in a yellow station wagon and meets Muni near the statue. He asks about the nearest gas station. He is a typical American who speaks only English, but is surprised to find that Muni can speak only Tamil.

Once he sees the statue of the horse he likes it so much that he decides to buy it for his living room. Though he can’t speak Tamil, he knows that money talks. He gives hundred rupees to Muni and considers that he has bought the statue. Muni believes that he has sold his goats.

3. MUNI’S WIFE

  • Muni’s wife leads a poor life
  • does odd jobs to make a living
  • poverty has worn her down
  • honest wife
  • accuses Muni of stealing, gets angry, threatens to leave her husband

Muni’s old wife who lives with her poor husband leads a poor life. She has lived with Muni through prosperity and poverty. She does odd jobs at the Big House to earn her livelihood. Poverty has worn her down. She is a typical Indian wife who is ready to cook what her husband wants to eat.

She is an honest woman. She reacts in an angry way when Muni gives her hundred rupees. She accuses Muni of stealing and threatens, “If you have thieved, the police will come tonight and break your bones. Don’t involve me. I will go away to my parents.” This reflects her candidness and determination.

A Horse and Two Goats Critical Appreciation

Third Person Narrative
The story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ is told in the third person by the omniscient author. The author describes the details of his characters, their words, actions and manners. But he refrains from giving judgement. He describes the conversation between Muni and his wife or Muni and the shopman in an objective manner. He presents two believable characters with human flaws. There is a conflict between the two characters due to their different cultures. The readers feel sympathy and compassion for both the characters.

Realism
The story is important for its realism, its simple and accurate presentation of everyday life as it is lived by the characters. The author gives details of Muni’s life as to where he lives, what he eats, where he goes to graze his goats, how he coughs when he smokes his first cigarette. He gives details about the drumstick tree and the dhoti where Muni puts his hundred rupees in a realistic manner. The task done by Muni’s wife in the kitchen is realistically portrayed. “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.”

Humour
The story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ is replete with elements of humour. Its humour is affable and polite. The author believes that the weaknesses and foibles of the characters are to be accepted and not railed against. The author has artistically created the comic characters of Muni and the American and he laughs at them in a gentle and kind manner. His humour neither pricks nor annoys the readers. In fact, his humour is genial and friendly.

Leave a Comment