The story “The Summer of the Beautiful White House” is the first introductory story to Saroyan’s international collection of short-story, My Name is Aram. It is a poignant tale of childhood innocence and the societal influence on its harmless desires. It is a tale of a nine-year-old boy, Aram, who, along with his uninhibited cousin, Mourad, goes on an adventure of a lifetime. The collection revolves around the various incidents that take place in the little boy’s life in Fresno and his take on it. This is a “ bildungsroman” like collection where the development of the protagonist, in this case, the nine-year-old Aram, is traced from his innocence to his maturity.
Solved Question and Answer of The Summer of the Beautiful White House
1. What does the writer suggest by beginning the story with the following words, “ One day back there in the good old days…”?
Ans. The above lines suggest the reminiscing tone that the story will be narrated in. It signifies that the anecdote related is not of the recent past and belongs to the golden period of his childhood when things were “ good.”
2. What did the narrator think of Mourad?
Ans. 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 he had “ fallen into this world by mistake.”
3. How did Aram justify the act of stealing the horse?
Ans. Aram, in his childhood, was not introduced to the dogmas of the world, so for him stealing had only one definition 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 the same as stealing the horse for selling it for money.
4. Mourad showed a special concern for animals. Justify.
Ans. In the story, there are several instances that show Mourad’s compassion towards animals. The horse reigns better under his command, and 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 don’t bark at him. At the end, when Mourad parts with the horse, it’s a 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 toward animals.
5. What did John Byro mean when he said, “ a suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart”?
Ans. 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 of whom Mourad and Aram’s parents were also a part. Arams 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 a distant city, and he did not want to violate that by listening to reason. So he listened to “ his heart,” which, to better his judgment, asked him to walk away.
6. What did John Byro perceive about the horse after it was returned? Why?
Ans. 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 this sudden positive change in the horse has taken place, the reader can concur that it was due to the love and care that the horse had received from the children, who treated the horse like their “ heart” and like Byro, they did not treat the horse like an animal of burden.
Solved Long questions of The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse
1. Write a brief note on the Garoghlanian family as perceived by the narrator.
Ans. The Garoghlanian family is an Armenian-American immigrant clan who have a poverty-stricken condition. The conditions were so worse that it was actually a marvel how the family managed to have enough money for food and other daily life necessities. But despite their financially precarious condition, they were a proud clan that upheld their proud heritage. Their honesty and pride were the inheritance they had received from their earlier wealthier times and now intend to continue with that trait now that they have fallen on worse times. So it was essential that no member of the clan ever indulged in robbery or any other form of dishonesty, like taking advantage of others. There was another thing that the Garoghlanian clan had inherited, and that was their steak of “madness”. The narrator claims that all families have this and they are no exception to it. An example in their tribe would be Aram’s Uncle Khosrove and his cousin Mourad. Mourad was considered the natural descendant of Khosrove even though his father, Zorab, was a much more practical one. But in the Garoghlanian clan, it was believed that that trait was not necessarily inherited from parents. The tribe, from the beginning, was shown to be very impulsive.
2. Describe the ride of Aram and Mourad when they went out together for the first time.
Ans. One early morning when Aram was sleeping in his room, Mourad came to his window with a beautiful white horse. It was the most beautiful horse Aram had ever seen, but he knew instantly that the horse was stolen because no one in his family had the means to buy a horse. But all this didn’t matter to little Aram because it was his deep desire to ride a horse. So setting aside all prohibitions, Aram went out with Mourad to ride the horse. They rode on Olive Avenue, letting the horse run as far as it could and felt. Then Mourad wanted to ride it alone. He gracefully handled the horse and shouted, “ Vazire, Run.” The horse stood on its hind legs, snorted and made a funny noise, and sprinted across in a fury of speed. Mourad raced the horse across a field of dry grass, across the irrigation ditch and five minutes later returned dripping.
It was then Aram’s turn to ride the horse, but unlike Mourad, Aram didn’t have much luck with it. When Aram first leaped onto the horse, the horse didn’t move at all. On Mourad’s advice, Aram tried kicking the horse’s muscles, which made the horse snort and run, only this time, instead of running across the field to the irrigation ditch, it crossed the road and went into Dikran Halabian’s vineyard and began to leap over vines. After the horse had leaped over seven vines, Aram couldn’t be steady anymore and fell off the horse.
3. You will probably agree that this story does not have a breathless adventure and exciting action. Then what, in your opinion, makes it interesting?
Ans. The story “ The Summer of the Beautiful Horse” by William Saroyan may not be a fast-paced, speed chase story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats, but it has an engaging simplicity within in, which attributes to its poignancy. It is a tale of childhood innocence and its uncomplicated ways. It is a reminder to the readers of what life was like before materialism gained sway. The story shows the oscillation between virtue and values in an individual and how it affects the new generation. Aram’s family are immigrants from Armenia and still carry within themselves the old country’s values but are constantly trying to adjust to the new agree realism. The younger generation, in turn, has to constantly choose between their desires and values. The story shows the reality that it is only imminent that future generations will eventually deter away from their communal values and adapt to new ones. For example, even though dishonesty is strictly shunned in their community, Aram and Mourad steal the horse and keep it for a long time before returning it to its owner.
But despite following their desires, the youngsters mean no harm. They have no malicious intent of stealing the horse for money, which in turn makes them justify their actions to their conscience. They engage in harmless frolic to enjoy the fleeting days of their childhood. The moral fiber of the community brings them back to the path of righteousness, and they return the horse to its actual owner. The anticipation of what the children will do and how the people around them will react makes it a relatable and interesting story.
4. Did the boys return the horse because they were conscience-stricken or because they were afraid?
Ans. Throughout the story, we see many instances which point out the honesty and sense of righteousness within. Mourad has the conscience to return the horse to its actual owner even though Aram wishes to keep it longer. Their community was well-known for their honesty, and no one would have suspected them of the theft. Moreover, if they were afraid, they could have returned the horse when Byro had come to their house and told them about his missing horse. Byro’s horse was missing for more than a month and untraceable. On top of it, when Byro confronts the children with his horse, even after scrutinizing the horse, Byro does not suspect them because it would be dishonorable to do so, and he is a man of heart. So it can be concluded that it was more out of guilt and a sense of righteousness that made the conscience-stricken return the horse and was not out of fear of getting caught.
You can also check out the summary of Desiderata by Max Ehrmann here.
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