A Horse and Two Goats
‘A Horse and Two Goats’ is a masterpiece of literature by R. K. Narayan (1906 - 2001). The writer is a brightly shining star in the galaxy of the leading literary Indian fiction writers, particularly who wrote in English including Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao. Narayan is given credit for bringing the Indian Literature in English to show the whole world. For this great service to the Indian literary world, he is rendered as the greatest Indian novelist and short story writer. The setting of this story is in the real and small village, Kritam unlike his most of the stories. His stories have simple language and common characters that are grappling with their social problems of everyday life as we see in his story ‘A Horse and Two Goats’. Narayan has been compared to as great writers as William Faulkner and Guy de Maupassant. He has reflected humour and passions of ordinary life and exposes the bitter truths about human life in different shades and colours. With respect to this trait, he is counted a humanitarian artist in his own way and distinctive style. However, R.K. Narayan’s style has met bitter criticism for simplicity of his diction. It is said that he is too simple to be intellectually entertaining.
The story has just two main characters. Muni, an old and very poor Indian and a red-faced American. Both of them represent their cultures through language. They speak their own languages and hardly can understand each other. In other words, language proves a great barrier in communication between the two individuals who belong to two entirely different cultures. This difference of cultures speaks volumes about the conflict of the East and West, with their own distinctive values and standards. Moreover, the two characters represent their respective nations. One is from the First World, America, the highly developed one and the other is from India, the Third World. Muni is symbol of austere poverty, materially as well as morally. He is in fact telling a lie to his wife when he tells her that ‘I have sold our goats to a red-faced man. He was absolutely crazy to have them, gave me all this money carried them off in his motor car’ (p.16). The American has mistakenly bought the statue of horse. He misunderstands that the horse-statue belongs to the poor old man, Muni. His misunderstanding is owing to his utter ignorance of the Indian culture as well as his materialistic outlook. He misunderstands that money can buy anything he likes. He stands as a symbol of the American that their material superiority can make them able to buy the cultures of the poor nations with money. He time and again talks about his business and his keen desire to become a big businessman. This fact can be seen in these wistful words of him: I repeat I am not a millionaire. Ours is a modest business; after all, we can’t afford to buy more than sixty minutes of TV time in a month, which works out to two minutes a day, that’s all, although in the course of time we’ll may be sponsor a one-hour show regularly if our sales graph continues to go up…(p.14). Moreover, the American fails to discern the reality that the horse-statue is not the possession of the poor goat-man but it belongs to the whole village of Kritam. On contrary, Muni is very poor but he is not preoccupied with materialistic pursuits. He talks about his religious and spiritual preoccupation. According to him: …our pundit […] told us that Vishnu is the highest god. Whenever evil men trouble us, he comes down to save us. He has come many times. The first time he incarnated as a great fish, and lifted the scriptures on his back when the floods and sea waves … (p.12). This discourse exposes the truth about the conflict of the East and West on spiritual and materialistic grounds respectively. The writer seems to suggest that West is hollow at heart and worshipper of materialism whereas East is spiritually rich and deep-rooted in culture and traditions which cannot be...
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