Treasure Trove Short Stories Workbook Answers A Horse and Two Goats
A Horse and Two Goats Questions and Answers
What do you know about the village named Kritam and point out what the name means ?
Kritam was a tiny village in the south of India. Though the village was small and consisted of less than thirty houses, it had a grand name “Kritam” which means “coronet” or “crown”. There was a Big House in the Tamil village which was made of brick and cement. It was gorgeously carved with figures of gods. The other houses were much smaller and were made of bamboo, straw and mud. There were four streets in the village and Muni, the protagonist of the story, lived in the fourth street.
Comment on Muni’s occupation and his domestic situation.
Muni is a shepherd who earns his daily bread by grazing goats or sheep. There was a time in his youth when he owned a flock of forty goats and sheep but now his stock has dwindled to two goats only. This change in his economic situation has been caused by famines in the past. The things are so bad now that Muni is under debt and the village shopkeeper refuses to lend him any more. His wife pesters him often to get essential items for the kitchen but he is too poor to get any. He asks his wife to take the drumsticks and sell them in the market place.
Bring out the humour and irony in the conversation between Muni and the shop man.
The story “A Horse and Two Goats” by R.K. Narayan is replete with touches of humour. We are amused when Muni’s wife sneers at him by saying “You have only four teeth in your jaw, but your craving is for big things”. She sends Muni to fetch dhall, chilly, curry leaves, mustard, coriander, gingelley oil etc. knowing too well that he has no money in his pocket. The shop man pays no attention to him when he sits on an upturned packing case below the platform of the shop. When he clears his throat and sneezes, the shop man loses his patience and says angrily : “What ails you ? You will fly off that seat into the gutter if you sneeze so hard, young man.” Muni is so much delighted at being addressed as a “young man” that he laughs loudly in order to please the shop man. He is able to win over the shop man as the latter likes his sense of humour to be appreciated. Muni apprises the shop man that he would be able to pay him some money because his daughter will be sending him some money on his fiftieth birthday. Later on, we come to know that Muni and his wife are childless. This is indeed ironic as well as tragic.
How does Muni feel after returning empty-handed from the village-shop ?
The visit to the grocery fatigues Muni so much that he flings himself down in a corner after returning home. His wife also chides him : “Fast till the evening, it’ll do you good”. He understands that his wife is shattered with her poverty, though she is good-natured and caring about him. Her temper was undependable in the morning but improved by evening time. He knew that she would go out and work – grind corn in the Big House, sweep and scrub somewhere and earn enough to buy some food for the evening. He wonders what his wife would do if he dies suddenly. They had no children to sustain themselves at his age.
Describe the horse statue situated on the edge of the village. What is the part played by this statue in the story ?
There was a huge horse-statue on the edge of the village. The pedestal of this statue was a resting place for Muni. Sitting on this pedestal for the major part of the day, Muni could enjoy the full view of the highway and see the lorries and buses pass through to the kills. It gave him a sense of belonging to a larger world. The horse was nearly life-size and it was moulded out of clay. There was a figure of a warrior beside the horse. This horse-statue plays a significant part in the story as it is unwittingly sold away to an Englishman who doesn’t understand the Tamil language spoken by Muni.
Comment on the communication gap between Muni and the red-faced foreigner bringing out the element of humour in the situation.
Muni often sits at the foot of the horse- statue watching his goats and the passing vehicles. A yellow vehicle which looks like both a motor-car and a bus stops in front of him on this particular day. A red-faced foreigner gets down and looks around for help since he has run out of petrol. He approaches Muni and asks him if there is a gas-station (petrol pump) nearby. Suddenly his attention is caught by the horse- statue and he exclaims : “Marvellous”. The red faced man was wearing khaki clothes and this scares Muni because he could be a policeman or a soldier. He has an inner urge to run away but stays on. He curses his age since he can no longer put his limbs into action. Meanwhile, the foreigner comes closer to him and says “Namaste ! How do you do ?” Muni exhausts his English vocabulary saying “Yes, no,” in response. Shifting to Tamil language, he informs the foreigner that he is Muni and those two goats belong to him and nobody can challenge his claim. Failing to understand even a word, the foreigner looks in the direction of the two goats and then lights a cigarette from his silver case. Suddenly he asks Muni : “Do you smoke ?” Muni answers again
with his “Yes, no.” At this the foreigner takes out a cigarette and gives it to Muni who accepts the offer readily and gratefully. We have a touch of genial humour in this awkward meeting between a local and a foreigner.
What do you gather about the red-faced foreigner who meets Muni on the roadside ?
The red-faced foreigner is an impressive character in the story “A Horse and Two Goats” written by R.K. Narayan. We come to know that this man has come from New York in America and is staying currently with his wife, Ruth, in a Srinagar hotel. Sick of the hot-summer in Connecticut, he suddenly made a plan to visit India and how he is just “doing the rounds”. After his vehicle breaks down on the way owing to shortage of petrol, he finds Muni to while away some time before he can get help from some other driver. He shows his friendliness to Muni by offering him a cigarette from his silver cigarette case. Since there is a language problem, he cannot understand whatever Muni says about his cattle and other things. He even offers to help Muni in chopping wood if the latter so desires.
Discuss the American tourist as an art- lover.
Like all other European tourists, the American man shows his love of art and artifacts. Soon after meeting Muni on the roadside, the American is fascinated by the horse-statue. He has an instant desire to buy this souvenir and put it up in his living-room. From the manner in which Muni is sitting on the pedestal of the horse- statue, he gathers that Muni must be its owner. He tells Muni that he will offer a good price for this great piece of art. We are quite amused when he says :
“I appreciate the article. You don’t have to explain its points.”
In the attitude of a demonstrator the American remarks :
“This is a marvellous combination of yellow and indigo, though faded now … How do people of this country achieve these flaming colours ?”
Comment on “A Horse and Two Goats” as a piece of realism.
R.K. Narayan is renowned world-wide for his realism. His portrayal of Malgudi in South India has won him great applause. He is regional yet universal in his appeal. This story is a typical example of his realistic description of characters and situations.
“A Horse and Two Goats” is replete with realistic touches. We can easily visualise the setting, the characters and the situation. The author deftly describes the details of his characters, their actions, gestures and mannerisms. Muni’s conversation with his wife, with the shop man and the American businessman is skilfully delineated. His characters are quite convincing and credible. Though there is a language-barrier between the Tamilian shepherd and the American businessman, their mutual admiration is unmistakable. The Tamilian Muni can speak only two words of English, “Yes, no” while the American can only say “Namaste”. It is this language barrier because of which Muni gets a hundred rupees from the American tourist under the impression that he has sold his goats to that foreigner whereas the American has paid this price for the horse-statue (under the impression that it belongs to Muni). Such a funny mistake proves to be harmless for both the characters. Such mistakes are the stuff of which human life is made.
A Horse and Two Goats Comprehension Passages
1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
The village consisted of less than thirty houses, only one of them built with brick and cement. 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. Muni’s was the last house in the fourth street, beyond which stretched the fields. In his prosperous days Muni had owned a flock of forty sheep and goats and sallied forth every morning driving the flock to the highway a couple of miles away.
(i) What is the name of the village referred to here ? Where is it situated ?
Answer: The name of the village referred to here is Kritam. It is a tiny village, situated far away from the highway at the end of a rough track. ‘Kritam’ in Tamil means ‘crown’.
(ii) Describe the Big House.
Answer: The Big House was built with brick and cement. It was painted in a brilliant yellow and blue colour. There were carvings of gods and gargoyles on several posts.
(iii) What had Muni owned in his days of prosperity ? What did he do every morning ?
Answer: Muni had owned a flock of forty sheep and goats in his days of prosperity. Every morning he went out with his cattle to graze them.
(iv) What did Muni feed his flock with ? When did he come back home ? What did he carry home ?
Answer: Muni fed his flock with foliage. He came back home at sunset. He gathered faggots and dry sticks and carried them home for fuel.
(v) What did Muni’s wife cook for him in the morning ? How did she cook it ?
Answer: Muni’s wife cooked balls of millet flour for him in the morning. She boiled water in a mud pot. Then she threw a handful of millet flour into it, and added salt in it. Then she made balls of millet flour.
2. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
He flung himself down in a comer to recoup from the fatigue of his visit to the shop. His wife said, “You are getting no sauce today, nor anything else. I can’t find anything to give you to eat. Fast till the evening, it’ll do you good. Take the goats and be gone now,” she cried and added, “Don’t come back before the sun is down.”
(i) What fatigue does Muni refer to ?
Answer: Muni had gone to the shop to get rice, dhal, spices, oil and a potato on credit, but the shopman refused to give any item on credit. Rather, he was insulted by the shopman for making lame excuses and telling lies. He was disappointed and sad. He refers to his insult and disappointment as fatigue.
(ii) Why does Muni’s wife tell Muni, “Fast till the evening, it will do you good” ?
Answer: Muni asks his wife to cook drumsticks in a sauce. In order to cook drumsticks, she needs rice, dhal, spices, oil and a potato, but not a single item is there in the kitchen. Muni goes to the shop to get these things on credit. The shopman refuses to give him any item on credit. Rather he insults him. He comes back and tells everything to his wife. So Muni’s wife gets angry and tells him “fast till the evening, it will do you good.”
(iii) Why is Muni’s wife upset and angry ?
Answer: Muni and his wife lead a poor life. They don’t have anything to eat. Muni asks him to cook drumsticks in a sauce. But there is no sauce in the kitchen. Muni goes, to the shop to get the essential items on credit, but the shopman refuses to give him any item on credit. Rather he insults him. He tells everything to his wife. So Muni’s wife gets upset and angry because there is nothing to eat at home. She is upset and angry due to poverty and absence of eatables in the house.
(iv) Why did she ask Muni not to come back home before sunset ?
Answer: Muni went away to graze his goats without eating anything. She asked Muni not to come back home before sunset because she would somehow manage some food for him in the evening.
(v) How did she plan to earn enough to buy foodstuff for the evening meal ?
Answer: She planned to go out and grind com in the Big House, sweep or scrub somewhere, and earn enough to buy foodstuff and keep a dinner ready for him in the evening.
3. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Unleashing the goats from the drumstick tree, Muni started out, driving them ahead and uttering weird cries from time to time in order to urge them on. He passed through the village with his head bowed in thought. He did not want to look at anyone or be accosted’. A couple of cronies lounging in the temple corridor hailed him, but he ignored their call.
(i) What did Muni do to urge the goats to move on ? Why didn’t he want to talk to anybody?
Answer: Muni uttered weird cries from time to time to urge the goats to move on. He was absorbed in his own thoughts and therefore did not want to talk to anybody.
(ii) Why did he ignore his cronies who had known him since his days of affluence ? Describe his days of affluence.
Answer: He ignored his cronies who had known him since his days of affluence because he was now poor and led a miserable life. He had no money to entertain his cronies. During his days of affluence, he had a flock of forty sheep and goats.
(iii) How does wealth lie in sheep ?
Answer: During his days of affluence, Muni had a flock of sheep. Fleece on the sheep is used to make woollen clothes. So wealth lies in the fleece of the sheep.
(iv) Where did Muni lead his goats to ? What did he do there ?
Answer: Muni led his goats to a grassy spot near the horse statue on the edge of the village. He sat on the statue’s pedestal while the goats grazed nearby.
(v) How did Muni lose his several cattle ? What is he left with now ?
Answer: Years of drought, a great famine and an epidemic ruined Muni’s several cattle. At present he is left with two goats.
4. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
The horse was nearly life-size, moulded out of clay, baked, burnt, and brightly coloured, and reared its head proudly, prancing its forelegs in the air and flourishing its tail in a loop; beside the horse stood a warrior with scythe – like mustachios, bulging eyes, and aquiline nose. The horse itself was said to have been as white as a dhobi-washed sheet, and had on its back a cover of pure brocade of red and black lace, matching the multi coloured sash around the waist of the warrior. But none in the village remembered the splendour as no one noticed its existence.
(i) What advantage did Muni have of sitting on the pedestal of the statue ?
Answer: Muni had the advantage of watching the highway and seeing the lorries and buses pass through the hills and it gave him a sense of belonging to a larger world.
(ii) Describe the statue of the horse.
Answer: The statue of the horse was nearly life-size. It was moulded out of clay, baked, burnt and brightly coloured. Beside the horse stood a warrior with scythe-like moustachios, bulging eyes and acquiline nose.
(iii) What did the image makers believe in ?
Answer: The image makers believed in indicating a man of strength by bulging out his eyes and sharpening his moustache tips, by decorating the man’s chest with beads.
(iv) What was the splendour of the horse ? Why did the people in the village not recognize it ?
Answer: The horse was as white as a dhobi-washed sheet and had had on its back a cover of pure brocade of red and black lace, matching the multi-coloured sash around the waist of the warrior. This was the splendour of the horse.
The people of the village never noticed the splendour of the statue and so never recognized it.
(v) How did the young village lads damage the things near the statue ?
Answer: The young village lads gashed tree trunks with knives and tried to topple off milestones and inscribed lewd designs on the walls.
5. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
“I am sure you know when this horse was made,” said the red man and smiled ingratiatingly.
Muni reacted to the relaxed atmosphere by smiling himself, and pleaded, “Please go away, sir, I know nothing. I promise we will hold him for you if we see any bad character around, and we will bury him up to his neck in a coconut pit if he tries to escape; but our village has always had a clean record. Must definitely be the other village.”
(i) What case does Muni refer to ? Why is he afraid to confront the American businessman ?
Answer: Muni refers to the case of murder that had taken place. He tells the American businessman that he knows nothing of the case. But the murderer would not be able to escape the law. He swears by God and says that he knows nothing about the murder.
He is afraid to confront the American businessman because he thought the American businessman to be either a policeman or a soldier.
(ii) Why did the foreigner nod his head to whatever Muni said about the murder ? What question does the foreigner ask Muni ?
Answer: Muni spoke in Tamil which the foreigner did not understand. So he nodded his head whatever Muni said about the murder.
The foreigner asks Muni if he knew when this horse was made.
(iii) What promise did Muni make to the foreigner with regard to the murder ? What did he tell him about his village ?
Answer: Muni promised the foreigner that if they found the murderer, they would hold him for him. They would bury him up to his neck in a coconut pit if he tried to escape. He told him that their village had clean record. The murderer must be from some other village.
(iv) Why are Muni and the American businessman unintelligible to each other ? What did Muni do to get out of this awkward situation ?
Answer: Muni, a south Indian Tamilian, speaks Tamil whereas the American businessman speaks English. They don’t understand each other’s language, and so they are unintelligible to each other.
Muni felt confused and tried to get away from this place. He said that he must go home and also turned to go. But the other man seized his shoulder.
(v) What difficulties did the American face while working in the Empire State Building last August ?
Answer: In the summer of last August, he was working in short sleeves in his office on the fortieth floor of the Empire State Building. There was a power failure that day. And he was stuck there for four hours because neither the elevator nor the air conditioning plant worked.
6. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
The old man now understood the reference to the horse, thought for a second, and said in his own language, “I was an urchin this high when I heard my grandfather explain this horse and warrior, and my grandfather himself was this high when he heard his grandfather, whose grandfather. …”
The other man interrupted him. “I don’t want to seem to have stopped here for nothing. I will offer you a good price for this,” he said, indicating the horse.
(i) How did Muni understand that the foreigner was making reference to the horse ?
Answer: The foreigner spoke English and tried to make Muni understand that he was referring to the horse, but Muni did not understand because he did not know English. So the foreigner almost pinioned Muni’s back to the statue and asked, “Isn’t this statue yours ? Why don’t you sell it to me ?” Muni now understood that he was making reference to the horse.
(ii) How did the American businessman conclude that Muni was the owner of the statue of the horse ?
Answer: The American businessman guessed that Muni was the owner of the statue of the horse by the way he sat on the pedestal of the statue of the horse.
(iii) How did Muni understand that the foreigner was talking about the horse ?
Answer: Muni followed the man’s eyes and pointed fingers towards the statue and then dimly understood that the foreigner was talking about the horse.
(iv) Why did Muni begin to talk about the horse enthusiastically ?
Answer: Muni felt relieved that the theme of the mutilated body had been abandoned. So, he began to talk about the horse enthusiastically.
(v) Why did the foreigner listen to the foreigner with fascination when he did not understand Muni’s language ?
Answer: Muni spoke Tamil in a stimulating manner and the foreigner listened to the sound of the language with fascination. He loved the sound of the language so much that he said, “Your language sounds wonderful.”
7. Answer the following questions with reference to R.K. Narayan’s short story entitled ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ :
The foreigner followed his look and decided that it would be a sound policy to show an interest in the old man’s pets. He went up casually to them and stroked their backs with every show of courteous attention. Now the truth dawned on Muni. His dream of a lifetime was about to be realised.
(i) What did Muni often dream of ?
Answer: Although Muni was extremely poor he often dreamt of big things. He had a craving of chew drumstick out of sauce.
(ii) How was the foreigner dressed ? Why did Muni feel the urge to run when he first laid eyes on him ? What stopped him from doing so ?
Answer: The foreigner was dressed in Khaki clothes. Evidently he looked like a policeman or a solider. Seeing the man dressed in Khaki, Muni mistook him for a policeman. He had an urge to run away. He feared lest the policeman should arrest him. His old age stopped him from running away.
(iii) Muni assumed that a recent incident had brought this visitor to his village. Give details of this incident.
Answer: A man had been murdered and his dead body was found mutilated and thrown under tamarind tree at the border between Kritam and Kuppam. This incident had take place a few weeks before.
(iv) What was the visitor actually interested in ? What did he offer Muni soon after they met ? Why did the offer surprise Muni ?
Answer: The visitor was actually interested in the statue of the horse. He offered Muni a cigrette. The offer surprised him because he had never been offered anything so respectfully.
(v) Which part of the story do you find most amusing ? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: The visitor was actually interested in the statue of the horse. He offered Muni a cigarette. The offer surprised him because he had never been offered anything so respectfully.
A Horse and Two Goats Assignment
1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
While he was brooding on this pleasant vision, the foreigner utilized the pause to say, “I assure you that this will have the best home in the U.S.A. I’ll push away the bookcase, you know I love books and am a member of five book clubs, and the choice and bonus volumes mount up to a pile really in our living room, as high as this horse itself.”
(i) How did the foreigner praise the horse ?
(ii) What did Muni say about the horse ?
(iii) What assurance did the foreigner give to Muni with regard to the horse ? What will he do to accommodate the horse in his house ?
(iv) What does Muni say about the pundit’s discourse in the temple about the horse ?
(v) What reply did the foreigner give to Muni when he was telling him about the pundit’s view about the horse ?
2. (a) What are Muni’s apprehensions about the American ? How does he react when the latter gives him his business card ?
(b) What do you know about the everyday life of Muni and his wife ? What impression do you form about them ?
(c) The story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’ reflects a clash between Indian culture and
American culture. Discuss with reference to the story.