Snapshot Notes (Class 11)

CBSE Class 11 English Snapshot Chapter 1 The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse

The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse – William Saroyan

The story begins on a note of reminiscence, where the narrator recalls a certain incident from his childhood. Although the story is written about the Aram as a little boy of nine, the point of view provided is much mature than that, and is of a more aged and experienced Aram, who in his later years is reminiscing about his glorious childhood.
The notion of summer in western ideology is that of leisure and pleasant weather. Many fond memories are formed during the course of this short-lived relaxation. One such memory is described by the narrator in this story.
As a child, one harnesses various desires within themselves, it is through the eventual manifestation of them that peaceful adulthood is achieved. Such a desire enveloped within little Aram was his desire to ride a horse.
The narrator claims that in childhood, we have the leisure to wonder about the magnanimity of our surroundings and perceive it from the various incidents that take place. As we grow older, such sensitivity is lost.
It was on an early morning that the primary incident happens when his cousin Mourad had brought an exquisite white horse to show to him. Even as a child, we are not free from the subjugations of her situations.
Although having the desire to ride for a long time, Aram knew it was not possible, for he was well aware of his poverty-stricken condition. From here we get the reality of the conditions faced by Armenian immigrants and the influences they had on Aram. Aram dual heritage influences him highly.
Although he is not quick to judge his cousin, he very well knows what others conceive of him. His uninhibited nature often goes around as his “craziness” which is said to hereditary. But, nevertheless, Mourad lived his life to the fullest and Aram somehow envied that.  Aram is not judgemental of his cousin’s deed, but he knows that there was no way his cousin could have bought a horse, leaving the other obvious alternate of stealing it.
Aram knew the implications of it. He belonged to the proud heritage of the Garoghlanian family, who were known for their honesty and ethics. Aram knew at once, that Mourad has done, at grave consequences.
But as children, we tend to have a more open-minded outlook, so Aram develops his own reason and interpretation to justify this deed and convince himself to participate in this, for the horse was something that was beyond his wildest dreams. Here we see Mourad be a widely misunderstood character.
On contrary to the popular notion of Aram’s family, Mourad turns out to be this sensible character who “ has a way” out of life. He does not deny his theft but refuses to share its detail in order to protect Aram’s innocence. Aram’s untainted view of life has made him develop his own ideas.
He incurs that stealing a horse for money is not as grave or even as same as stealing it for riding. This is the justification that Aram provides to his conscience to subdue his guilt of participating in a crime. This is clearly out of the influence of society and his “proud” heritage, which urges him to be self-righteous.
Nevertheless, Aram goes out to experience the opportunity of his lifetime. The horse here can be referred as an allegorical symbol for all those desires that we contain within ourselves due to the constraints that are subjected to us and the sweet taste of concealed rebellion that comes with its willful fulfilment.
The first ride is with Mourad is described as this Romantic stroll of two princes wandering through nature. Through this mutual adventure, Aram began to contemplate on the Mourad’s carefree nature. It was so thought that in every family, there exists a member who has such a passionate streak, and it is said that Mourad gets it from their Uncle Khosrove.
Khosrove had a bad temperament and was indifferent to everything at par and was eternally irritated. To all situations alike, he had the same reaction, “ no harm, pay no attention to it.”  Mourad is considered to be a natural descendant of this man, although Mourad’s father, Zorab, was a practical man. In their tribe, traits were not necessarily inherited from parents. The tribe, from the beginning, had been impulsive.
Next what happens is considered by Aram one of the “ loveliest sights” had ever seen. After letting the horse run to its heart’s content along with Mourad, Mourad insisted that he now wants to ride on his own.
The narrator vividly describes the languid majestic movement of the horse. The horse gets up on its hind legs and snorts and sprints into a gleeful run. After five minutes of run across a field, running to the irrigation ditch, Mourad came back with the horse. It was Aram’s turn to ride now. But what happened next was not what Aram had in its mind.
Instead of running to the ditch, the horse went into the vineyard of Dikran Halabian, where it leapt over seven fines, eventually making Aram fall. The horse ran away, and it took Mourad half-hour to track him down. Seeing broad daylight, Aram was worried that people may find out about the stolen horse, but on seeing Mourad’s unflinching attitude, Aram inferred, that Mourad must have been taking this morning rides for long and he had only informed Aram today because he knew how Aram desired to ride. But Mourad advised Aram that if people found out, he was supposed to say they had stolen the horse that morning only.  
Mourad took the horse back to its hiding place, in the deserted vineyard that once belonged to a farmer named Fetvajian. The horse was ill-tempered but Mourad said he had an understanding with the horse.  
Next day, their Uncle Khosrove came for coffee and cigarettes, and he sat in their parlour talking to another visitor, John Byro. Byro was complaining how his horse was missing for more than a month. He did not miss the horse per se, but he complained of the inconveniences that were being caused due to its absence, like how his carriage is useless now and that he had paid sixty dollars for the horse which will now go to waste.
Khosrove on listening to this burst out in anger that Byro was pinning at something so trivial when they all had lost their homeland and that Khosrove had no regard for money like Byro did. Aram could make out of this conversation that it was Byro’s horse that Mourad had stolen. Aram’s mother apologized to Byro for Khosrove’s behaviour, she claims that Khosrove has a “ gentle heart” and that he was acting so harsh for he was homesick.
Aram then ran to Mourad to inform of this encounter. On reaching he saw Mourad tending to an injured robin. Aram requested that they don’t return the horse until he had learned to ride. Mourad exclaimed that would take around a year, and keeping the horse for that long a time would amount to stealing, and a member of the Garoghlanian family could never steal.
Mourad agreed to keep the horse for six months at most and after that, the horse must go out its “ true owner”. For the following two weeks almost, each morning Aram went out for riding but never succeeded, but Aram never lost hope.
One morning to Fetvaijan’s house, they met John Byro, who could have sworn it was his horse, but Mourad had his “ own way” of convincing him. He said that it was his horse and was called “ my heart”. Given the honest family reputation that both of them belonged to, John Byro trusted them and left in confusion.
Next morning, Mourad went to return the horse to Byro’s barn. The dogs followed them but didn’t make a noise. Mourad again said he had his own way. Mourad pain-strickenly parted to form the horse. Byro on finding the horse again exclaimed that the horse had grown stronger and well-tempered. Khosrove on listening to this again became irritated as usual.
Important Questions
Q. What does the writer suggest by beginning the story with the following words, “ One day back there in the good old days…”?
A. The above lines are suggestive of reminiscing tone that the story will be narrated in. It signifies that the anecdote narrated is not of recent past and belongs to the golden period of his childhood when things were “ good”.
Q. What did the narrator think of Mourad?
A. The narrator was probably the only person who was not prejudiced against Mourad, whom everybody else thought to be “crazy”. Aram had somewhat regard for Mourad’s uninhibited lifestyle and he knows that Mourad believes in living each day to its fullest and that had “ fallen into this world by mistake”.
Q. How did Aram justify the act of stealing the horse?
A. Aram in his childhood was not introduced to the dogmas of the world, so for him stealing had only one definition, for money. But in his conscience, he knew very well, that what Mourad had done was stealing in fact. But the simple and innocent nature of his childhood compelled him to justify this act as an act of pleasure, for stealing the horse to ride it was not same as stealing the horse for selling it for money.
Q. Mourad showed a special concern for animals. Justify.
A. In the story, there are several instances which show Mourad’s compassion towards animals. The horse reigns better under his command, the injured Robin is nursed to health and is able to fly again. The fact that the only name he could think of for the horse when asked was “ My Heart”  in the Armenian language speaks tonnes of his sympathy towards animals. Moreover, the dogs that follow him to the barn when he goes to return the horse to its owner, they don’t bark at him. At the end, when Mourad parts with the horse, it’s poised and emotional scene where Mourad is clearly grief stricken due to the separation. Through all these instances we can justify Mourad’s compassion and concern towards animals.
Q. What did John Byro mean when he said: “ a suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart”?
A. When John Byro met with Mourad and Aram with the horse, he was shocked to see the similarity between their horse and his. But Byro belonged to an immigrant community to whom Mourad and Aram’s parents were also a part of. Aram’s clan, the Garoghlanian clan was famous for its honesty and to be suspicious of the children would be to question their heritage. And in his heart, he valued the sacred bond of brothers that they carried from their homeland to distant city and he did not want to violate that by listening to reason. So he listened to “ his heart” which to better of his judgment, asked him to walk away.
Q. What did John Byro perceive about the horse after it was returned? Why?
A. After Mourad returned Byro’s horse, he noticed that the horse had grown stronger than before and is well-tempered. Although Byro does not understand why  and this sudden positive change in the horse has taken place, the reader can concur that it was due to the love and care which the horse had received from the children, who treated the horse like their “ heart” and like Byro, they did not treat the horse as an animal of burden.
Q. What are some differences between Mourad and Aram?
A. Despite their similar backgrounds and blood-ties, Mourad and Aram have completely different personalities. Aram is one of life’s dreamers, a romantic with a vivid imagination. This makes him the exact opposite of the more active, worldly Mourad. Aram’s naivety and general lack of understanding of the world mean that he is easily led, and it’s no surprise that he goes along with Mourad on his little escapades without a moment’s thought or hesitation.
Just about everyone except Aram thinks that Mourad’s completely mad—that he’s inherited his uncle Khosrove’s crazy streak. Whether or not Mourad really is mad, there’s no doubt that he often does crazy things, such as stealing horses. Aram, though much more sensible than his rebellious cousin, still has no hesitation in accompanying Mourad on his horse-thieving expeditions. There must be something charismatic about Mourad’s personality to draw Aram into his madcap adventures.
Q. Why was it difficult for Aram to believe the sight of his cousin Mourad with the beautiful white horse?
A.  When Aram looked through the window, he saw his cousin Mourad with a beautiful white horse and it was a sight which was very difficult for him to believe for two reasons:
  • First, the whole of the Garoghlonian family to which the two boys belonged was extremely poor and therefore it was not possible for Mourad to buy that horse.
  • Secondly, in that case, it would mean that Mourad had stolen that horse. But that was also not possible, because the Garoghlonian family was also very much famous for their honesty and therefore Mourad could not steal that horse either.
Q. Did the boys return the horse because they were conscience-stricken or because they were afraid?
A. The most beautiful essence of this story is the fact that the boys were very innocent and meant no harm to anyone. They were just dreamy and wished to ride a horse. It pricked their conscience when they saw the clean heart of the farmer, John Byro, who didn’t suspect them even for once for stealing the horse. They were not afraid but were guilt-stricken when they met a pure-hearted soul like John, who couldn’t even think of people of their clan stealing, even after he said it was confirmed that the horse resembled his, just like twins. The children might have also been afraid of ruining the prestige and honour of their families.
Q. Why did the two boys ultimately return the horse all of a sudden although they had planned to keep it at least for six months?
A. Although the two boys had planned to keep the horse for at least six months, they returned it all of a sudden the morning after they accidentally met the farmer John Byro from whom Mourad had stolen the horse. The farmer examined the horse and told them that he could swear
that the horse was his very horse which had been stolen from him many weeks before if he did not know about their parents. He added that the fame of their family for honesty was very well known to him and therefore he liked to say that the horse could be the twin of his stolen horse. What John Byro told them served as an eye opener for the two boys especially Mourad and they became conscious how precious and strong their family’s fame for honesty was and therefore they did not want to tarnish that name and prestige and immediately returned the horse.
Q. Mourad was the natural descendant of the crazy streak of uncle Khosrove. Explain the statement giving instances from the story, ‘The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse’?
A. Uncle Khosrove was considered in the Garoghlanian tribe as one of the craziest persons. It was also believed that the tribe that Mourad was the natural descendant of the crazy streak in their tribe. Uncle Khosrove’s craziness was out of the world. He had the largest moustache in the surrounding. His talk was not less than roaring, which was but natural for him. Once when his son came running to tell him about his house on fire, he simply said, ‘It is no harm; pay no attention to it’. The barber who reminded him that it was his own house also got rebukes. Khosrove also asked John Byro not to worry about the horse or the loss of money or even for his painting legs and answered in the same way.
Mourad was considered the natural descendant of this man though not a biological descendant mainly because of the crazy acts he was involved in. The act of stealing a horse because he was crazy about it is an example to prove the same. As the punch line of uncle Khosrove i.e. ‘It is no harm; pay no attention to it’ Mourad used to say that he had a way with the things, animals and even people. Thus Mourad said that he had a way with the horse, with the dogs, and with the farmers too.
Q. Discuss the character sketch of Mourad?
A. Mourad, the central character in the story „The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse is depicted as a young boy, who enjoyed being alive and having fun. He had a crazy streak in him which he had inherited from his family. He belonged to a tribe that was poor, had no money and lived in an acute form of poverty. As a young lad, he upheld the family customs and traditions. He believed in all the values that his tribe and family had tried to inculcate in him. He could not resist the temptation to ride a horse and stole a horse from John Byro, hid it and then went for horse riding early in the morning at 4:00 am along with his nine-year-old cousin Aram. He justified his actions by saying that it wasn’t stealing because they had no intention of selling it for money.
Mourad was crazy and fun loving. While riding the horse, he sang loudly and joyfully. He was confident about his riding abilities and said that he had a way with a horse. It was only when John Byro touched his conscience when he declared that if he had not trusted the honesty of their tribe, he would have sworn that the horse belonged to him. Mourad realized his mistake. His conscience pricked him and he returned the horse. The fun-loving boy had had his fun and then his honesty urged him to uphold his family values and traditions.

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