The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse – Summary

‘The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse’ by William Saroyan is narrated by nine-year-old Aram Garoghlanian, a member of an Armenian community living among the lush fruit orchards and vineyards of California.


One morning Aram is awakened before dawn by his thirteen-year-old cousin Mourad, who is thought to be demented by everyone except Aram, and has a way with animals. Aram is astonished to see that Mourad is sitting on a beautiful white horse. Aram has always wanted to ride a horse, but his family is too poor to afford one.

However, the Garoghlanian tribe is noted not only for its poverty but also for its honesty, so it is unthinkable that Mourad would have stolen the horse. So, Aram felt that his cousin couldn’t have stolen the horse.

Aram was invited to ride on the horse with Mourad. The idea of Mourad stealing the horse drained away from Aram’s mind as he felt that it wouldn’t become stealing until they offer to sell the horse. They enjoyed their riding on the horse for a long time.

Mourad’s crazy behaviour was considered to be a natural descent from their uncle Khosrove, even though his father, Zorab, was a practical man. Uncle Khosrove was an enormous man who was always furious, impatient and irritable. He would roar for everyone to stop talking and say It is no harm, pay no attention to it. In fact, one day, when his son came and told them that their house was on fire, Khosrove silenced him by roaring “Enough. It is no harm”. After a long day of riding, Mourad wanted to ride alone on the horse. Aram had the same longing, but when he sat on the horse and kicked its muscles, it reared and snorted and raced forward, dropping Aram off its back.

That afternoon, an Assyrian farmer named John Byro, an Assyrian friend of the Garoghlanians- came to Aram’s house. He reported to Aram’s mother that his white horse which had been stolen a month ago was still missing. Hearing this, Aram concludes that Mourad must have had the horse for a long time. Khosrove, who was at Aram’s house when Byro came, shouted his dialogue “Its no harm” to such an extent that Byro was forced to spring out to avoid responding.

Aram ran to Mourad to inform him of Byro’s arrival. Aram also pleaded to Mourad, not to return the horse until he could learn to ride. Mourad disagreed saying that Aram would take at least a year to learn, but promised he would keep it for six months. This became a routine. Mourad came daily to pick Aram to ride, and Aram continuously fell off the horse’s back after every attempt.

Two weeks later, they were going to take the horse back to its hiding place when they met Byro on the road. The farmer is extremely surprised. He recognizes his horse but refuses to believe that the boys had stolen it. He says “the horse is the twin of my horse” and “a suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart” and that night they return it to the farmer, John Byro. Thus, the Garoghlanian’s fame of honesty saved them.

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