The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse
By Williiam Saroyan
About the Author
William Saroyan was an American novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He was born on August 31, 1908 in Fresno, California. His father came to New York in 1905 and started preaching in Armenian Apostolic churches. At the age of three, after his father’s death, Saroyan, along with his brother and sister, was placed in an orphanage in Oakland, California. He continued his education on his own, supporting himself with jobs.
Saroyan decided to become a writer after his mother showed him some of his father’s writings. A few of his early short articles were published in Overland Monthly. His first stories appeared in the 1930s. The short story collection My Name is Aram (1940), an international bestseller, was about a young boy and the colorful characters of his immigrant family. It has been translated into many languages.
In 1943, Saroyan married actress Carol Marcus with whom he had two children, Aram, who became an author and published a book about his father, and Lucy, who became an actress. By the late 1940s, Saroyan’s drinking and gambling took a toll on his marriage, and in 1949, upon returning from an extended European trip, he filed for divorce. They were remarried briefly in 1951 and divorced again in 1952.
He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Story for the film adaptation of his novel The Human Comedy. Saroyan wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California. Many of his stories and plays are set in his native Fresno. Some of his best-known works are The Time of Your Life, My Name Is Aram and My Heart’s in the Highlands.
Saroyan died of prostate cancer at the age of 72 in Fresno.
This story is about two poor Armenian boys – Aram and Mourad. They belong to a tribe known for its honesty for centuries. Both have intense longing for horse riding. But they can’t afford to buy a horse. So going against the family reputation, Mourad steals a white horse of a farmer, John Byro. Aram is shocked because it is a stolen horse. But he discounts the charge of stealing and goes for a ride. One day he overhears John Byro telling Uncle Khosrove about his missing horse. He gives the news to Mourad. The next morning the horse is returned to its real owner.
1. Aram – a nine year old Armenian boy belonging to Garoghlanian tribe.
2. Mourad – an Armenian boy of 13 belonging to Garoghlanian tribe, cousin of Aram.
3. Uncle Khosrove– Aram’s uncle, a crazy person with a powerful head.
4. John Byro – a farmer
5. Narrator’s mother
Aram and Mourad are cousins in the Garoghlanian family – an Armenian tribe which has a reputation for honesty that has been maintained by its family members for hundreds of years. But the tribe is extremely poverty stricken though they never resort to unfair means to get money. Both boys long to ride a horse but their poverty keeps them from their deepest dream. Early one morning, Mourad shows up at Aram’s home on a charming white horse. Aram is awestruck! He cannot understand where Mourad got this beautiful horse when they do not have enough money to afford one. But he also cannot think that his cousin–a member of the honest tribe–can ever steal. But he is too surprised to try and find out the truth. He so longs for a ride. Also Mourad is determined to keep it, and they try their best to keep the horse a secret from others and learn to ride it. In the days to follow, both the boys take out the horse from its hiding place every morning to ride in the countryside. Though, only Mourad can ride the horse properly as he has mastered the art by having riding practice for a month before revealing his secret to Aram. Aram tr
ies hard to master the skill. He is determined to learn to ride and tells Mourad not to return the horse until he himself learns to ride. Mourad says it would take Aram a year to learn to ride. He cannot keep the horse that long but Aram tells him to keep it.
Mourad has a special quality—a deep understanding with all animals. He says “I have a way with a horse”. Really he has a way with all animals and birds. Once he was repairing the hurt wing of a young robin and whispering to it. Mourad is considered a crazy fellow–the descendant of his crazy uncle Khusrove. Uncle Khusrove has a very bad temper and always stops people from talking by shouting–“It’s no harm,pay no attention to it!” Even when his son informs him that their house in on fire when uncle is having a hair-cut, uncle simply sends the boy away repeating his famed dialogue! Also when John Byro–the real owner of the stolen horse– comes to Aram’s house to recount his sad tale of losing his beautiful horse, uncle simply says the matter is of no use and he should pay no attention to it. Then follows a humorous conversation between Khusrove and Byro at the end of which the sad farmer stamps out the house in frustration.
One day when Mourad and Aram are taking the horse to the farm at which they have been hiding it, they come face to face with the horse’s owner John Byro. He looks at the horse very eagerly and studies it tooth by tooth. He exclaims that this white horse is identical to the one horse he owns. Finally he says that it cannot be the same one, for the Garoghlanian tribe is noted for its honesty. Aram notes that Mouצing thing happens. The guard dogs of John Byro instead of barking at the strangers follow them around silently. Yes Mourad communicates with them, perhaps telling them to not make noise!
The next day John Byro visits the Garoghlanian family home to tell of a great miracle. The horse which had mysteriously disappeared from his barn has returned! It was a very amazing happening; and the horse returned better trained and well-tempered. All this happened due to Mourad. This is the story of the beautiful white horse. The Garoghlanian family thus maintained their good name too.
Short Answers Type Questions
Q1. Who were Aram and Mourard?
Ans. Aram and Mourad were cousins. Aram was nine years old. Mourad was thirteen. Both of them were fond of horse-riding. They belonged to the garoghlanian tribe of Armenians.
Q2. How does the narrator describe the Garoghlanian family?
Ans. Garoghlanian family had the reputation for honesty that has been maintained by its family members for hundreds of years. Every one trusted them. These people took pride in the fact that they were honest in spite of their poverty.
Q3. What did the narrator see when he looked out of the window? Why couldn’t he believe his eyes?
Ans. The narrator heard a tap on the window of his room. When he looked out, he saw his cousin Mourad sitting on a beautiful white horse. He could not believe his eyes because Mourad belonged to a poor family. He could not afford to buy such a lovely horse. Surely, he had stolen it.
Q4. How did Aram justify Mourad’s action of riding a stolen horse?
Ans. Aram too was very crazy about horse riding. But riding a stolen horse both delighted and frightened him. He justified Mourad’s action saying that taking out a horse just for a joy-ride could not be called stealing until they offered to sell it.
Q5. Who was the real owner of the beautiful white horse? How did Aram come to know about him?
Ans. John Byro was the real owner of the white horse. He was a farmer. On a visit to Aram’s house he complained of his loss to uncle Khosrove. This assured Aram that the horse had been stolen by Mourad.
Q6. In what respect did Mourad and Aram differ from each other?
Ans. Mourad and Aram were cousins belonging to the Garoghlanian family. Both had a common craze for horse riding. But Aram was more honest and straightforward than his cousin. Mourad had a streak of craziness. He could tell lies’. He was boastful. Aram was simple-hearted.
Q7. Why did the sight of Mourad’s horse both delight and frighten Aram?
Ans. Aram was just a young lad, truthful and honest. But he had a longing for a joyride on a horse. Naturally, he was delighted when Mourad asked him to sit on the white horse. But he was also frightened because he knew that it was a stolen horse.
Q8. Who was uncle Khosrove? What were some of the notable traits of his character?
Ans. Uncle Khosrove was widely known to be crazy. He was short-tempered and impatient as well. He stopped others from talking by shouting at them. His stock saying was: ‘It is no harm, pay no attention to it.’ Mourad had got that craziness from uncle Khosrove.
Q9. Mourad had a way and some sort of understanding with three creatures. Who were they?
Ans. Mourad was boastful and self-confident. He was good at dealing with a wild white horse, the barking dogs and an angry farmer, like John Byro. The white horse of Byro became better tempered. The dogs at Byro’s barn did not bark. John Byro also accepted Mourad’s lie as true.
Q10. What was Aram’s experience when he rode the white horse alone?
Ans. Aram was keen to ride the white horse alone. He leaped to the horse-back and even kicked into its muscles. It snorted and began to run. It went out of control. It leaped over seven vines. Aram fell but the horse continued running.
Q11. ‘I didn’t want both of us to be liars? Who spoke these words and in what context?
Ans. These words were spoken by Mourad to Aram. Mourad indirectly admitted that he was telling a lie that he had not stolen the horse but in case they were found out by the horse owner, Aram was to tell him that they had started riding that very morning.
Q12. Why did Aram rush to his cousin’s house soon after Byro was gone?
Ans. John Byro visited Aram’s house. He reported that his horse was still untraceable. Uncle Khosrove shouted him down. But Aram overheard the conversation. He ran to Mourad’s house to tell him about it. He asked Mourad that he would keep the horse for some time more.
Q13. How did Mourad put John Byro off when the two met one morning?
Ans. One morning the two cousins ran into the farmer John Byro who examined the horse thoroughly. But Mourad confidently told Byro that his horse’s name was My Heart. Byro made no fuss because he knew about the honesty of Mourad’s family.
Q14. What change did John Byro notice in his horse after it was returned to him?
Ans. John Byro was not only happy but also surprised when he got his missing horse back. He failed to understand how his horse had become stronger and better tempered than before. He thanked God for the change.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q1. Who stole the beautiful white horse and why? How did they use the horse and what made them return the horse to its true owner?
Ans. ‘The Summer of The Beautiful Horse’ is a simple but interesting story about stealing of a horse by two Armenian boys Mourad and Aram, and later how they returned it to its rightful owner. Mourad had a passion and love for horse riding. Due to his passion for riding and fun once, he stole a beautiful white horse. Actually, the poverty of the tribe forced them to fulfill his desire for riding by stealing the horse. His cousin Aram too loved riding and in their childish innocence, they justified that stealing a horse for a fun and riding was not the same as stealing
and selling it for money. The two boys enjoyed riding the horse early every morning and hid it in the barn of the deserted vineyard.
The boys belonged to the Garoghlanian family which was known for its integrity and honesty. One day when the boys met John Byro, true owner of the horse and heard his confidence in the honesty of their family, the boys became conscience – stricken. Soon the pride and honesty which they inherited from their tribe overpowered their childish pranks and they realized that what they did was wrong as this could bring disgrace to their family. Thus conscience-stricken, they eventually returned the horse to its rightful owner.
Q2. Compare and contrast the characters of Mourad and Aram.
Ans. Mourad and Aram were cousins thirteen and nine years old respectively. Both longed for a horse ride. But their family was too poor to buy a horse. Both were adventure- loving. Both knew that their family was well known for honesty and right conduct. But Mourad could not help stealing John Byro’s horse. While he had a streak of craziness, Aram was honest and simple-hearted. Mourad was more talented and bolder than Aram. He domesticated the wild horse of John Byro. He repaired the injured wing of a robin bird; he knew how to deal with a horse, a dog and a farmer. Comparatively, Aram was timid and low-lying.
Q3. Bring out some of the notable traits of Mourad’s character.
Ans. Mourad, the son of Zorab, was the 13-year old cousin of Aram. Zorab was a practical man but Mourad was most unlike him. He was considered as crazy as his uncle Khosrove. He was not so honest as his family or tribe. He did not hesitate to steal John Byro’s horse. He was as fond of horse riding as his cousin. But he did not have the means to buy a horse. Very cleverly he hid the horse in a deserted bam and took it out at daybreak for a joy-ride. He loved adventure and singing. He had remarkable self-confidence. He said boastfully that he had a way with a horse, a dog and a farmer. He was not a thief. He returned the horse to its owner John Byro after about six weeks.
Q4. The narrator’s uncle Khosrove was known to be a crazy fellow. Give a few instances of his craziness.
Ans. The narrator’s uncle Khosrove was an enormous man with a large moustache. But he was considered crazy or capricious by the people who knew him. He was furious by nature. He was easily annoyed. He was impatient. He would not let anybody have his say. He silenced people with his roar. Once his house was on fire and his son ran to the barber’s shop to give the bad news. But he paid no serious attention to it and repeated his words rudely. He got irritated when John spoke about his stolen horse, and walked out of the room. He was a strange character.