What are the themes of “The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse”?

“The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse” by William Saroyan addresses several themes. Here’s a breakdown of the primary themes present in the story:

1. Innocence and Youth: Aram, as a young boy, is a symbol of innocence in the story. His immediate trust in his cousin Mourad and his romanticized idea of riding the horse showcase the untainted perspective of youth. This innocence is both a source of joy, as in the exhilarating horse rides, and pain, as in the eventual realization of the horse’s true origins.

2. Morality and Ethics: Mourad’s decision to steal (or “borrow”) the horse creates a conflict between individual desire and moral rectitude. This theme is especially pronounced when juxtaposed with the tribe’s history of thievery and the family’s pride in never having stolen anything. The story forces readers to question the boundaries of morality and what constitutes right or wrong.

3. Dreams vs. Reality: Aram’s dream of riding a horse becomes a reality, but not in the way he imagined. The contrast between his dream and the reality of the situation (i.e., the horse being stolen) underscores the often complex and imperfect ways dreams can be realized.

4. Family and Community Ties: The strong bond between Aram and Mourad, as well as the respect the family has in the community, is evident throughout the story. John Byro’s decision not to directly accuse the family of theft, despite his suspicions, speaks to the importance of preserving community ties and mutual respect.

5. Cultural Identity: The story provides a glimpse into the Armenian community in California, touching upon tribal customs, values, and the importance of reputation within the community.

In essence, “The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse” delves into the complexities of morality, the bittersweet nature of growing up, and the deep-seated values of community and family.

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