Rk Narayan A Horse And Two Goats Analysis Essay

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1 A horse and two goatsR.K. Narayan

2 starterWrite 3 questions for each of the following words, in which the word is the answer to your questions.MuniThe statueThe AmericanKritam

3 Learning Objectives Do now
To understand, analyse and critically review the short story,To express a personal opinion.To write a formal essay in an analytical and academic register.Do nowMatch the vocabulary terms from the story to the correct definitionWinning pair will get chocolate cupcakes tomorrow baked by me 

4 AuthorR.K. Narayan (Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswam) lived from October 10, 1906 to May He was an Indian author, who was famed for his fictional works of literature. Narayan was born in Chennai, an Indian city, formerly known as Madras. He grew up partly with his father, who was a headmaster from whom Narayan gained some knowledge from, and partly with his grandmother as his father was constantly moving jobs. It was from his grandmother, that Narayan learnt arithmetic, mythology, classical Indian music and Sanskrit. When he was slightly older, Narayan and his family moved to Mysore, where his father worked at the Maharajah's Collegiate High School. It was here that Narayan found his passion for reading and writing. Narayan was able to finish high school, however failed his university entrance exam.

5 A year later, in 1926, he retook this exam, and passed, therefore was granted permission to attend Maharaja College of Mysore. Narayan obtained his Bachelor’s degree four years later and for a short time he worked as a teacher. However, Narayan realised that his true calling was in literature, therefore he started his career with writing a book review on ‘Development of Maritime Laws of 17th-Century England’, which was his first published work. Narayan also began writing articles for English newspapers and magazines, which allowed him to earn a sufficient but not prosperous living. However, he was content. His first novel was written in 1930, ‘Swami and Friends’ which was mocked and rejected by many publishers.

6 Author continuedNarayan continued writing, and in 1933, married Rajam, a girl from his neighbourhood. Narayan’s novel ‘Swami and Friends’ was finally published in 1935, with the help of his friend Graham Greene, in Oxford. Narayan was widowed in 1939, as his wife died from typhoid. This death bought on Narayan’s next novel, ‘The English Teacher’, which was a tribute to his late wife. Narayan continued to write and published many books including, ‘A Tiger for Malgudi’, ‘Talkative Man’ and his final novel ‘Grandmother’s Tale’, which was published in Narayan became hospitalised during May 2001, at the age of 94, and passed away in Chennai, that same month.

7 Plot Summary Slice of life English, do you speak English?
Barren coupleI sold the goats!

8 PLOTR.K. Naryan’s, ‘A Horse and Two Goats’, is set in Kritam, a tiny village located on the edge of India. The main character and protagonist of the story, Muni, is shown as poor and deprived old man, who previously led a prosperous life, which has gone downhill, leading to him and his wife living in poverty. Muni and his wife are taunted by the villagers as a ‘barren couple’ as they have no children, and are frowned upon, because even though they are childless and must only support themselves, they still live a rundown life. This ‘slice of life’ story shows what begins as a typical day in Muni’s life, and ends very unpredictably. The story begins with Muni begging his wife to make him a breakfast of ‘drumsticks’. She decides to make this breakfast as long as Muni is able to find the other ingredients needed. Muni’s wife does not have these ingredients in the house, nor the money to buy them, therefore she sends her husband off, telling him that a day of fasting ‘will do (you) good’. Disappointed, Muni sets out with his two goats, to ask the local shopkeeper, for the items that his wife needs to cook him the breakfast he is craving. However, Muni is sent away by the shopkeeper, as he already owes the shopkeeper a large debt. Again, 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. Unexpectedly, Muni is approached by an American man, who has just pulled over in a station wagon. Muni becomes frightened as the man’s ‘khaki’ coloured clothing, has mislead Muni to believe the foreigner is a soldier or police officer. Muni tries to run away, however his old age restricts him and he is unable to move. The stranger approaches Muni and greets him in Tamil, then continues the conversation in English, as his knowledge of Tamil is very little. Muni replies with ‘Yes, no’. These two words are as far as Muni’s English vocabulary reaches. The foreigner, who in reality is a businessman from New York, pulls out a cigarette, lights it and offers it 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. The American man asks Muni questions about the ‘marvellous’ horse statue, which he believes belongs to Muni. Both men “converse”, though neither understands what the other is saying. This language barrier leads to Muni, reminiscing about his past, the statue and his childhood, while the American explains to Muni how he will be rearranging his furniture back in New York, to accommodate the statue. 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. The American makes his leave with the horse statue towed in his station wagon, while Muni returns home to his wife. When he arrives home and 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 to go ‘back to her parents’.

9 Narrative AnalysisAlthough the story is short there are frequent references to Indian mythology and a strong presence of irony.Analyse the story in 3 sections:The Statue and the VillageThe transactionThe outcomeDO NOW: Write a brief summary of events in each section.EXTENSION: What does each section represent? Eg statue and village are symbolic of what? Transaction is symbolic? Outcome is tragi-comic, why?

10 The Statue and the village
Examine the state of the statue and the village in which it is situated (1st paragraph of the story).Comment on the way the village and the statue are presented by the writer.The village, “apex of the world” , on the other hand a “tiny dot on even the most detailed map”.The statue was magnificent because of its bright colours, its texture is little more than “blobs of mud”, being ravaged by the sun and rain. Where do readers learn that there are many statues like this?Overall – descriptions present former grandeur, India is no longer what it used to be.

11 The transactionThe protagonists don’t have the slightest idea of what the other is talking about – mutual mystification.Use the handout to fill in the speech bubbles – speculate on what each of the characters could be thinking while the other is speaking.

12 The outcomeWhat leads Muni to think that the American wants to buy his goats?The American strokes them. Muni has looked after them, so they are in fairly good condition and are therefore worth buying.What makes the American so sure that he has bought the statue?As Muni was sitting near the statue, the American automatically assumes that it must belong to him. He cannot conceive of an object not belonging to anybody. He gives Muni Money, so believes a transaction must have taken place and he is now in possession of the statue.How does the narrator make use of comic irony to describe the situation?Neither of the protagonists knows what the other is talking about: The American does not know that he now owns the goats and not the statue, while Muni does not realize that he now has 120 rupees but still has his goats.

13 TASKS 1 + 2 Mutual Mystification – speech bubbles task
Forms of Characterisation – Re-read the story carefully and take notes on how the two protagonists are characterised.What they sayWhat they doWhat the author is telling us

14 charactersHer temper was undependable in the morning but improved by evening time. She was sure to go out and work – grind corn in the Big House, sweep or scrub somewhere, and earn enough to buy foodstuff and keep a dinner ready for him in the evening.”“They had known him in the days of affluence when he lorded over a flock of fleecy sheep, not the miserable gawky goats that he had today.”“The red faced man wore khaki clothes – evidently a policeman or soldier.”

15 MUNIMuni, an old(unsure about his age) and desperately poor man, is the protagonist of the story. Once he was prosperous, with a large flock of sheep, but a series of misfortunes have left him with only two scrawny goats. He and his wife have almost no income and no children to help take care of them. He lives a simple life, and likes to pretend that he has a daughter, despite the fact that they are a “barren couple”. Every day, Muni takes the goats out to graze on the scarce grass outside of town, while his wife pulls something together for an evening meal. As he watches the goats from the shade of a large statue, he remembers his younger days when the work was hard but there was enough to eat, when he could not attend school because he was not of the right caste, and when he imagined that he would one day have children. Like many poor and struggling people, he fears authority figures, and so he fears the American who steps out of a strange car wearing khaki clothes. While the man tries to talk with him about the statue, Muni babbles on about a recent murder and the end of the world. He finds solace in the horse statue. It is a place to rest but also where he is comfortable. At the end he seems to have temporarily escaped his money troubles, but his bad luck continues when his wife suspects him of thievery and threatens to leave.

16 MUNI’s WIFEMuni’s wife, who remains unnamed throughout the story has spent some sixty years with him (neither of them is sure about their ages), through prosperity and poverty. Although she is gruff with him now, she is willing to indulge his request for a special meal. She is shown to be temperamental and does all the domestic chores. She has the ‘upper hand’ in the relationship. She works as hard as he does, or harder, getting up at dawn to fix his morning meal, and taking odd jobs at the Big House when their stores are low. But poverty has worn her down: her first reaction when she sees the hundred rupees is to accuse Muni of stealing.

17 THE FOREIGNERThe man comes riding into the story in a yellow station wagon. A businessman who works in New York and commutes from Connecticut, he is dressed in khaki clothing worn by American tourists. He came to India as he experienced a power cut in his office in the Empire State Building and felt the need to experience and visit other civilisations. He typifies the “Ugly American”: he speaks only English, but is surprised and a little annoyed to find that Muni can only speak Tamil, and although he is in the tiniest village in India, he expects to find a fas station and English-speaking goatherds. Once he sees the statue, he wants it for his living room without any thought as to what the statue might mean to the people of Kritam. He exemplifies, that even though the language can’t speak, money can and buys the horse for himself without any real thought or consideration. The communication barrier between Muni and the American man causes a misunderstanding when it comes to the horse statue. The American man thinks it belongs to Muni and attempts to buy it while Muni thinks that his misfortune is coming to an end and the scrawny goats are being sold.

18 Themes Cultural diversity Wealth & Poverty Colonialism (Ignorance)
INSENSITIVITYCultural diversityWealth & PovertyInsensitivityColonialism (Ignorance)

19 Style and setting Realism Humour Setting - Kritam Narration And Point
OfViewSetting - KritamRealismHumour

20 SettingThe location itself is irrelevant –it could be anywhere in southern India (Tamil is spoken in south-eastern India): outside a village so tiny that it cannot be found on any atlas, but guarded by the ancient statue of a horse and a warrior. Here, Muni looks after his goats, resting ‘in the shade of a nearby cactus’. The detailed description of the statue contrasts with the vagueness of the location: the formerly awe-inspiring statue dominates and guards the scene (‘massive’, ‘brightly coloured’, ‘prancing’, ‘tail looped up’, ‘bulging eyes’) and conveys the impression of movement as opposed to the calm and peaceful situation around it. The exotic element which the description contains is further emphasised by the explanations of its religious significance given by the old man, which are totally lost on the American.However, it is Narayan’s humourous and ironic description of the setting, his use of language which sets the scene for the reader, hinting at elemental human weaknesses, as is ‘the way of the world’.


22 SUMMARY: Narayan has written numerous novels and short stories, many of them set in Malgudi, a fictional but typical small Indian town. His characters are invariably ordinary people finding their route through Indian life. Although A Horse and Two Goats makes no reference to Malgudi itself, it is typical of these stories, as Muni tries to live and ease the burden of his poverty. The story is narrated with the non-judgemental understanding and gentle humour typical of Narayan’s writing.The narration emphasises the insignificance of the village, and by implication the insignificance of its central character, who is coping with poverty and domestic struggle and seeks to ease his way by deceit and invention. The big deceit of the story, though, happens through misunderstanding and without Muni’s volition, Narayan creating comedy through the two parallel lines of attempted dialogue between Muni and the American tourist. Within the comedy, though, Narayan shows the different values of the two, the American’s dialogue concerned with acquisition and possessions, while Muni is concerned with history and spirituality.

23 Sequence Breakdown Learning outcome: appreciate and understand the sequencing of events in the narrative, present aspects of the story including setting, symbols, character.In pairs, complete a detailed, crafted and workable sequence breakdown which will adapt this story into a short film.Sequence Breakdown = ordered/arranged events within the plot – you will have to think carefully about how to divide the scenes up.Video notes = Mise-en-scene (everything in the scene), costume, setting, lighting, acting, props/objects.Audio notes – Music/Soundtrack, Script, ambience, sound effects, diagetic sounds.

24 EXTENSION Wider reading
The Guide (novel) and Malgudi Days (short stories) by RK NarayanKanthapura by Raja RaoCompare withGames at Twilight by Anita DesaiOf White Hairs and Cricket by Rohinton MistryOnlineInformation about RK Narayan is available at:

25 Video

Analysis For R.K Narayan´S " A Horse And Two Goats"


A horse and two goats

This is a short story written by R.K. Narayan, who is an Indian novelist that pointed all of his work towards showing how much difference there is between Eastern and Western culture. Narayan is fascinated by the gap which exists between supposed and real understanding, by the element of incomprehension in human relationships. The author finds this "culture clash" utterly amazing, and in this specific story he decided to address the subject by portraying Muni, who is a typical, poor, uneducated Indian farmer, and a wealthy, shallow, educated, white American.

"A Horse and Two Goats" opens with a clear picture of the poverty in which the protagonist Muni lives. Of the thirty houses in the village, only one, the Big House, is made of brick. The others, including Muni's, are made of "bamboo thatch, straw, mud, and other unspecified materials." There is no running water and no electricity, and Muni's wife cooks their typical breakfast of "a handful of millet flour" over a fire in a mud pot. This is reffering to the enormous lifestyle difference between the two main characters. When this two first meet, Narayan makes his first point, the complete lack of ability to comunicate and interact succesfully between this two men, which is a metaphor for the incapacity to interact between the Eastern and Western culture. Unlike many stories about culture clash, the inability to communicate in this story leads only to confusion, not to any real harm. In fact, although each feels vaguely dissatisfied with the conversation, the men do not realize that they are not communicating....

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