DISCUSSION ON PROJECT TOPICS (TREASURE TROVE)
A HORSE AND TWO GOATS
BY R. K. NARAYAN
Question) Describe the rural life as described in the short story – A Horse and Two Goats.
Answer)The setting of the short story A HORSE AND TWO GOATS, by R.K Narayan is in Kritam, a fictional village in South India. Kritam was a tiny village with about thirty houses. The people of the country were mostly poor and illiterate . They depended on cultivating their lands or grazing domestic animals like sheep and goats to earn a meager living at the day’s end. But only one family was prosperous. It was the village headman who had allegedly tricket those poor people by lending them money and charging high interest and in this way made a lot of money and built a brick house – the only one to be seen in the village.
Muni, the protagonist of the story was so poor a man that he even had to stay empty stomach on some days. There was a time, when he had a flock of forty sheep and goats but those days were long past. He now grazed his two goats in the outskirts of the village near the highway. His wife sometimes worked in the in the village headman’s house. She ground corn or swept or scrubbed somewhere to buy food stuffs and get a meal for her husband. At times, Muni would shake down drumsticks from the tree which was in front of his hut and express his desire for a change of taste.
But his desire remained unfulfilled as there were no other food stuffs available to make a meal. The shopkeeper owed five rupees and a quarter to Muni and rejected to offer more on credit. Mani did not even see a hundred rupee note in his life. He had only earned in coppers and nickels.
But it was not only Muni. Poverty and hunger was something very common in the village areas. Things were worsening with time as we see how Muni had become so poor from a prosperous life once. Famines were also prevalent in those days.
People did not have high ambitions. Rather they were satisfied with their simple life while their only concern had been to arrange food for their daily needs. All Muni had hoped and dreamt of is setting up a small shop with the capital by selling his goats. Social classes and caste system were prevalent in the village. Only Brahmins could go to school. Only learned men and officers knew English. The village headman had hoarded all resources to the displeasure of the poor village like Muni. He hated Muni and his goats and gave false allegations against him of stealing a pumpkin from is farm.
The village people were apparently peaceful, though there were small incidents of theft of animals or food. Besides these, cheetahs and jackals would sometimes carry off the goats and sheep. These were the only occasional disasters that happened to them. Apart from such few incident, things were pretty usual throughout their monotonous life.
People were scared of policemen and soldiers since they head either experienced or heard of disastrous incidents of messing up with them. This was mostly due to their ignorance of the outside world. They were also scared of the village headman.
Those poor people had never had gone anywhere beyond the village. They had never attended a school. They knew only their local Tamil language. And Muni stared at the buses and lorries passing by on the highway and counted himself to be a part of the larger world. They were also ignorant of the artistic value of the statue of the horse. The American man bought the horse statue for a hundred rupees but Mani thought that he had paid the money was paid for his goats.
Superstitions and prejudices were rampant in those days. Muni believed in what the Pandit discoursed at the temple once – how the oceans were going to cover the earth in a huge wave and swallow all people and how the horse would grow bigger to carry off the people on its back. People believed that the world would get destroyed once the Kali Yuga ends. Having many children was regarded to be a blessing.
Hence we can say Narayan has given a complete and detailed picture of rural India full of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance superstition and class distinction through the life of Muni in his story A Horse and Two Goats.
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY
Question) Discuss After Blenheim as an anti-war poem.
Answer) AFTER BLENHEIM is an anti-war poem that centers on the most famous battle in the war of the Spanish Succession. Blenheim is the English name for the German village of Blindheim, situated on the left bank of the Danube River in Bavaria in Southern Germany.
In November 1700, the grandson of King Louis XIV of France acceded to the throne of Spain as Phillip V. Austria and other European countries saw this development as an unfair plan of the French king to increase his power and influence. Consequently, in 1701 a war broke out between the countries of Austria and France. Furthermore, England, The Netherlands, Portugal and various German dominions entered the war on the side of Austria. The Italian provinces of Savoy and Mantua and the German provinces of Cologne and Bavaria unified themselves with France. Later Savoy renounced its allegiance to the French and joined the Anti-French coalition. In 1704, the coalition defeated French and Bavarian forces at Blenheim in one of the most important battles of the war. Among the conquering heroes were England’s Duke of Marlborough and Savoy’s Prince Eugene.
AFTER BLENHEIM has a scathing criticism of the horrors of war. It shows the international diplomacy, politics and war are matters which are cut off from the lives of common men. In an outburst of praise for the heroes who won the war, Old Kasper reveals the typical inability of an ordinary citizen to grasp the reason why the war took place. The poet’s comment is ironical when Kasper explains his grandchildren that he does not know why the war took place.
Old Kasper tells his grandchildren that not only his own parents had been rendered homeless by the war but many mothers had also lost their new born babies. It is sorrowful that a terrible sight of thousands of bodies rotting in the sun becomes a measure of the greatness of a “famous victory”. It is indeed ironic that Kaspar goes on to say that the Duke was praised by all since it was for him that the war was won. But it is through the innocence of Peterkin and Wilhelmine that the poet expresses the condemnation of war when they expresses their disgust by saying that it was a very wicked to kill people and also what good it resulted ultimately.
The poem exposes the destruction caused by the war. For the common man, war means death, devastation, hunger and disruption of peace.
The poet is unable to point out any benefit from that “famous victory”. By making Kaspar speak that it was a great victory, the poet manages to question its greatness. What is won when everything is lost? Moreover, the idle boastfulness of heroes who win wars and the futility of war itself is depicted by innocent children. For them, Duke of Marlbro’ and Prince Eugene were some shadowy figures in the remote corners of some distant past. Nevertheless, the children were unable to grasp their achievements from a human angel.
Thus, the innocent children become the mouthpiece of the poet, who expresses his disapproval of war.