Explain how R. K. Narayan has depicted the theme of innocence and poverty in the story A Horse and Two Goats with textual reference.
In his story “A Horse and Two Goats”, R. K. Narayan has conveyed the theme of innocence and poverty through the character of Muni, the protagonist.
Muni is a poor Tamil villager in India. Once he had a flock of forty goats and sheep, but now he is left only with two goats. He grazes his goats in the outskirts of the village and shakes down the drumsticks from the tree in front of his house. It doesn’t give him a bare living. Often his wife has to go out and work — grind crops in the Big House, sweep or scrub somewhere, earn enough to buy foodstuffs and keep a dinner ready for him in the evening when Muni returns home with his goats.
The family’s only concern in life seems to survive by earning enough for the day, though Muni has a dream of setting up a small shop someday selling his two goats. Accustomed to this life, Muni has probably submitted to his fate.
This submission is due to his ignorance and innocence. Muni has no formal education for belonging to a lower caste in a prejudiced Indian society where only upper-caste Brahmins can go to school. Moreover, he has never gone beyond his village and knows nothing of the world outside. This has led to his innocence.
Muni’s innocence shows up in his wondering how to describe the car later to his wife, in his claim of not being involved in the murder incident, in his mention of how jackals and cheetahs sometimes take away their goats, in his narration of the stories he has learnt from the temple priest and in his questioning of how many children the man is blessed with, to mention a few.
So, the theme of innocence is well expressed throughout his conversation with the American visitor. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the language difference that led to a troubled conversation where they never really communicated with each other. And that setting is deliberately created by the author to display the innocence of an ignorant Indian common man.
In the short story A Horse and Two Goats, author R. K. Narayan has depicted the theme of Innocence and Poverty explicitly.
Muni, the protagonist of the story, belongs to a village Kritam which has less than thirty houses and mostly made of bamboo thatch, straw, mud and other unspecified material with only one pakka house made of brick and cement. Muni seems to be of poor financial ground. We know this because he has blanched millet flour as nourishment for the day, he owes five and a half rupees to the shopkeeper and fails to buy further things on credit, and he hasn’t had a cigarette since decades until provided by the foreigner and so on. This highlights poverty in the life of Muni.
Innocence is present in Muni’s thoughts when he replies taking the name of God and when he thinks that the foreigner is questioning him of the murder case recently taken place. He is once seen lying to the shopkeeper that he would repay him (shopkeeper) the money which he has on credit when he receives his gift of money from his daughter on the occasion of his 50th birthday although everyone knows he does not have any progeny. But he does that just to receive the grocery items he needs to fulfill his craving of chewing drumstick out of the sauce. He also stands innocent in the matter of his goats having eaten pumpkin from the farm of the village headman, an issue he is accused of. He scolds and holds his goats by the ears when he sees them return back and is not happy to receive money for selling nothing as he thought he earned the money on selling his goats.
His wife is also shown very innocent and truthful by threatening Muni of leaving him and doesn’t want to be involved with him in case of theft but isn’t happy of getting a hundred rupees with which her and Muni’s life could become better.
In this manner, Narayan has depicted the theme of innocence and poverty in Muni’s life.
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