In Literaute we have read the story: ‘A Horse and two Goats’, and we had to write an essay about it’s main theme: the clash of cultures. This is mine
The most important theme in “A Horse and two Goats”, and in fact the central theme of Narayan´s work, is the clash of cultures. Do you agree?
In A Horse and two Goats, Narayam portrays the encounter between the Indian culture and the American culture and the differences that emerge as a result.
Firstly, one of the aspects that is dealt with in this clash of two opposing cultures, is the lack of communication between Muni (Indian) and the tourist (american). They both meet and try to interact which becomes impossible due to the fact that they speak different languages: Muni speaks Tamil and the American, English. “The foreigner nodded his head and listened courteously though he understood nothing”. However, they continue chatting nonsense. Each one speaks about his own life and local calamities, with no awareness that the other hears nothing. This misunderstanding is caused because Muni does not know anything about America and the American tourist does not know much about India. So it´s the lack of knowledge of in the other´s culture that does not permit their interpretation. The conversation between Muni and the “red-faced” is ironic and ridiculous. For example when the foreigner arrived, he asked for a gas station and Muni thought he was a policemen and started to declare himself innocent: “Muni shrank away (…) perhaps he (the American) was trying to (…) arrest him”. He was afraid of him and wanted to go away innocent as fast as possible.
Secondly, another aspect is the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised, and their different realities. The foreigner is the American and the colonised, Muni (India). The American is taking away India’s culture from Muni by buying the statue of the horse. “Isn’t this statue yours? Why don’t you sell it to me?” This unknown foreigner enters the village of Kritam and pretends to take away a statue, that for Muni means a lot: his past, culture. These 2 characters are very different: Muni is poor, rural, uneducated, Hindu and black, while the American is white, educated, urban and wealthy. Muni ends up speaking about his religion and Indian mythology, which shows that his culture is more centered on faith and belief. The foreigner, on the contrary, is very focused on business and negotiating a statue, demonstrating that his culture is centered on money. The American is accustomed to living in the 1st world where everything is modern, evolutionary and urbanized, whereas Muni lives in the 3rd world and he is poor and can’t adapt to the new world, to modernity and to new changes. He is unable to move on, stuck, getting old. He is compared to the horse: “…no one noticed its existence”. The statue was also stagnant, unable to move forward.
In conclusion, the most important theme in the story is the clash of cultures, as there is an encounter between two very different nationalities, which deals which different aspects.